Excellent article, i thought: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/fashion/28friends.html June 28, 2009 I Love You, Man (as a Friend) By DOUGLAS QUENQUA WELCOME to the flip side of homophobia. Im flattered, and I think its hilarious, Kris Allen told People.com recently, responding to the news that his former roommate and runner-up on American Idol, Adam Lambert, had a crush on him. Mr. Lambert, who favors black eyeliner and leather pants, had told Rolling Stone that Mr. Allen, an aw-shucks Christian from Arkansas, was the one guy that I found attractive in the whole group on the show nice, nonchalant, pretty and totally my type except that he has a wife. This all went down in the same interview in which Mr. Lambert finally confirmed the long-simmering rumor that, yep, hes gay. Mr. Allens cool, self-assured response to being the object of his gay roommates affection doesnt exactly qualify him as a civil rights hero, not at a time when straight men march against Proposition 8 in California and the most anticipated gay-themed film of the year, Brüno, is coming from a straight (if highly waxed) comedian. But do give him credit for overcoming one of the most common deal-killers in friendships between straight and gay men: the awkward crush. The kinship between gay men and straight women is familiar to the point of cliché (see: Sex and the City, Will and Grace, Kathy Griffins audience, etc.), but friendships between gay and straight men have barely registered on the pop culture radar, perhaps because they resist easy classification. For every sweeping statement one can make about such friendships, there is a real-life counter example to undermine the stereotypes. And as with all friendships, no two are exactly alike. But as Americas openly gay minority becomes more visibly interwoven into society a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 4 out of 10 respondents had a close friend or family member who was a gay man or a lesbian the straight world becomes more aware of the gay world. Although male friends of opposite orientations can face formidable obstacles sexuality, language, peer pressure, inequality there seems to be more mutual appreciation and common ground. The younger generation understands the spectrum and fluidity of sexuality much more than generations of the past, said Tom Bourdon, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Center at Tufts University. Most liberal-minded straight guys today could say they have gay friends, and people wouldnt bat an eye. Pop culture has also been picking up on this, serving up gay characters who have broken out of old stereotypes. In I Love You, Man, Andy Samberg plays a fist-bumping sports nut who is gay but makes the straight man, Paul Rudd, look prissy. On The Sarah Silverman Program, the gay couple acts so pathologically straight that they express their feelings with lines like, Im totally gay for you, dude, between bong hits. Still, as Billy Crystal remarked in When Harry Met Sally, its difficult for men and women to be friends because the sex part always gets in the way. The same can be true between gay and straight men only it gets way more complicated. Jason Mills, a gay screenwriter in New York, wrote a short film called Curious Thing about the time he lost a straight friend after things briefly turned sexual. Where it can get confusing for a straight man and a gay man is when they connect on every other level, and then the gay man starts to question, Well if there was just that one other thing, this could be perfect, Mr. Mills said. (Complicating matters a bit, Mr. Millss films are directed by his straight friend and business partner, Alain Hain, who must frequently combat the assumption that the movies are about him and Mr. Mills.) Adam Carter, 34, a straight fund-raiser from Chicago who frequently travels overseas, recalled losing a friend in Brazil after rejecting his advances. We were driving to a party and he put his hand on my thigh, Mr. Carter said. I didnt make a big deal out of it. I just told him it wasnt my thing. But things were never the same. He added: Now I look back on all the things we did together and wonder, was it all just to get me in the sack? Now I know what girls feel like. The notion that gay men cant or dont refrain from hitting on straight friends is, to many, the biggest stereotype of all. Its simply not true, say most of the men in gay-straight friendships interviewed for this article. A more common source of friction, some gay men say, is the tendency of straight friends to see them only through the lens of sexual orientation. I do have a lot of straight friends, but its harder to make real relationships with straight guys, said Matthew Streib, 27, a gay journalist in Baltimore. I feel like its always about my gayness for the first two months. First they have questions, then they make fun of it, then they start seeing me as a person. Another disconnect can be the tendency of straight men to purposely ignore their gay friends emotional lives. Jammie Price, a professor at Appalachian State University, studied 46 pairs of straight and gay male friends for her book, Navigating Differences: Friendships Between Gay and Straight Men. She concluded that only 13 of the pairs could truly be called close friends, often because the straight man was willing to delve only so far into the gay friends personal life. In a surprising twist, she found that the straight men with the most evolved sense of masculinity the ones who forged the tightest friendships with their gay friends were from military families or had some military training. These men were used to being thrown into different environments where it doesnt matter whether youre white or black or Hispanic, Professor Price said. Youre going to live in this house and youre all going to be treated the same and you have to get along. The insensitivity issue does tend to crop up in the form of poorly chosen words. Justin Miller, 28, a straight mortgage broker, met Joshua Estrin, 39, a gay drama and dance teacher, at a networking party in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., about seven years ago and became close friends with him, but has had to learn to watch his mouth. According to Mr. Estrin, Hell be out with me in a gay neighborhood and hell say something stupid like, Stop being such a queer, and like 900 heads in the restaurant will turn. I tell him, These boys are going to take you down.