I recently finished Love Undetectable by Andrew Sullivan – I’d never heard of Sullivan but found a lot of powerful insights in his writings. Some of his reasoning is a little over-Catholic for me but his balls to call self-destructive behavior as it is finds me in agreement. But the final chapter which explores the tenets of friendship had many insights that just hit me over the head – it reminded me of the historic recentness of romantic love and it’s construction. By comparing platonic friendship with romantic love, Sullivan seems like he is speaking directly to my group of friends. We have known eachother so intimately over the past seven years – they are such an enourmous support base that I’m willing to sacrifice the possibility of a romantic connection with these people in order to remain in the service of the friendship. It is why I’m so suspicious of lust and the idea of being enveloped and totally consumed by someone else. The idea that I’m wandering around incomplete until my perfect half finds me and we come together and all is well with the world. I just can’t believe that to be true. It’s all such a set-up. Love that blinds everything around it. Love that burns everything else in its path. This is the love of great novels and plays but in real-time this kind of sustained magic is just that – magic. It also got me thinking more at this article about ‘gay vague’ ness in advertisements – the indirect homosexual themes in current ad culture. Some of these examples seem so stretched – like the gay community is jumping at any time two men are shown together without a woman as another point scored for the movement. This denies the complexity of both sides of the coin and leaves everybody feeling a little idiotic. The VW commercial where the guys drive around and pick up the couch – some were saying they were lovers – essentially that if they aren’t ogling the bikini team or sharing a brewski this thirty-second friendship could be seen as having homosexual overtones. That just seems like it is really pushing it. And the little in-jokes you’ll see in commericals – the Old Navy one where the chick from Will & Grace proclaims (surrounded by a herd of pretty-boy dancers): These bottoms are the tops! It is all a part of America just getting the fuck over it. That one day these little ‘risks’ of humour in the mainstream will seem so boring and passe. Sullivan echoes here with:
The fear of male intimacy, which is intrinsically connected to a fear of homosexuality, has too often denied straight men the bonds they need to sustain themselves through life’s difficulties. Perhaps the most overlooked benefit of a culture which can relax its strictures against homosexual love and life is that we could finally liberate heterosexuall life to experiene a more fluid and satisfying and intimate range of nonsexual relations without the fear of stigma or moral panic. This is why the movement for homosexual liberation is actually a misnomer. It is a movement for human liberation, and heterosexuals stand to gain from it as much as anyone.
I note the added sensuality of my male friendships growing up – female as well. That there was an extra physical component. A vibrance. That when I say goodbye to my best friend Alan we kiss on the lips and embrace just as I do with my female friends. Same with Matt. One of my co-workers remarked that this was very European of us. But I do feel an elevated sense of friendship over romantic love. Too many times romantic love can’t be counted on and can’t be built on. Maybe it’s my own emotional nutty-ness in play here. Lovers come and go. But you’re friends are there. They are the family you choose. We are born with a blood-kin clan around us that we love/hate/tolerate and we append that family with our friends. And the added idea that how can I expect to just wander into a satisfying romantic relationship of that same level of depth when it has taken seven years to build some of these friendships.