Anthony Carter

Can Gay Men Be Friends?

Filed By Anthony Carter | October 11, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: friends with benefits, love, one night stands, tricks

Growing up and coming out, I constantly heard very interesting messages regarding friendship between men and women.

corzefa007511-42-18736673.jpgThe message was loud and clear and annoying: they don't work. I thought this was interesting and often wondered why people would make such assumptions. Then, of course, I grew up and started dating men and to some degree began to believe and conduct myself based on this odd and accepted view of men and their "nature."

Like our straight counterparts, gay men are seen as always horny, on the prowl and commitment adverse. While this may or may or may not be the truth when it is used as both a point of reference and a place to build a relationship from, it can have inane and very limiting results.

Yes, gay men can be highly sexual creatures.

This is simply my observations of myself, my friends and damn near thirty years of personal research. While this may be the way things get played out, there are instances where this doesn't occur.

What do you do when you have decided that you will have a full bodied, powerful relationship with another gay man and there will be no sex?


From personal experience during my younger days and the days of my gay male posse, several friendships either sprang up from having been sexual at one time or began because there was the promise or hint of some type of sexual interaction in the very near future.

Sexual tension is awesome.

It is fun and enjoyable and can lead us into making some very stupid decisions. It can also cost us friendships and a great deal of hurt feelings via confusion and misunderstanding. While it can be a thrill knowing that the person you are having a serious conversation with would totally do you in the broom closet, sexual desire can often be our own undoing.

What is more exciting than the promise of sexually fulfilling desire?

When we mutually agree upon goals, add respect and value of another person, we create something infinitely more exciting than sexual conquest and fulfillment. This may sound boring to those of us who see the be-all-end-all as sexual conquest and the next great orgasm, but sex can mislead and confuse the best of us even we are trying to establish a foundation beyond the physical.

The trick is trying to establish a relationship when everything around you says, "It won't work". Keep in mind that as gay men we have already figured out what works to some extent.

If you had to navigate a less than friendly and accepting world as a result of coming up in any decade prior to the 1990's, you most definitely have some tools for thriving amidst hardship. While the 1990's may not have been ideal, it sure beats the hell out of being out in the 80's or 70's.

It is my understanding that back in the day (70's and early 80's) several friendships had their beginnings in sexual adventure being the only mutual goal. I have never been able to figure out how I can climb out of your bed in one moment and then say we're best buds the next.

This is a grave exaggeration.

It has always baffled me how you could have both. Perhaps this is the reason so many of us fail to make meaningful relationships and have challenging times creating them if everything is seen through the lens of sexual conquest.

I have several friends I adore and would do absolutely anything for; I don't think about fucking them.

I no longer utilize this criterion for friendship and during the brief stint I utilized this stupidity as a guide-rule, the shit always blew up in my face. My best and closest relationships have not been sexually. It can be very difficult being honest with someone if it may cost you an incredible roll in the hay.

It can be extremely upsetting to try and be emotionally honest with someone if you know they are just there for a good time or will be out the door before you can state why you don't want a proper romp.

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I don't understand it ever being a problem. The vast majority of my friends have been gay men, if nothing else because there's a level of trust and safety there I haven't found elsewhere.

I mean, being attracted to men doesn't mean wanting to have sex with every and all men - nor does finding someone sexually attractive equate to having to take it to that level.

this is the first tiem I've come across the problem, all the gay men in my circle and extended circle have always had more gay male friends than otherwise

I agree Sparky. It has never been an issue for me. I have a great mix of friends some straight some gay. My best friend is gay and he is like a brother to me not someone I want to have sex with. Same with other friends of mine. It has never been an issue.

I agree with both you and Sparky. My best friend is Larry, a man I met in seminary in the early 60s. Later, in the 70s, he and his partner, Gene, were my guiding support as I struggled with coming out. During that time we lived 1,500 miles apart.

The friendship has continued to fluorish over the decades. They and my late partner and I traveled together on several occasions. The three of us have another trip planned for the Spring. Even though we still live nearly 700 miles apart, their friendship is a very important part of my life. I speak with Larry by telephone much more often than I do with my blood brother. We can always pick up right where we left off.

Sexual activity has never been a consideration between us. But I love him deeply and completely.

I don't get this article at all. I have lots of friends, gay, straight, bi, and even trans. Some I'm attracted to, some not. Sure, there are some that I'd love to have sex with, and several that I have had sex with. In fact, many of my closest friends are exes or past flings. And in all cases I'm friends with (or even introduced them to) their current partner, where they have one.

I've never understood the need to avoid people because you've had intimate relations with them. Nor have I understood the taboo of being intimate with someone who you're friends with. Many people say it's because it changes the dynamic of the friendship. I can see that, and have seen that happen with others (mainly acquaintances). But if someone can't handle separating physical and emotional intimacy, good odds they're not someone I would consider a friend. I prefer more intellectually and emotionally mature friends, with a strong will and a logical though process.

I've often found that exes make the best friends. Typically because there was something shared, and a deeper understanding of one another that most others wouldn't understand. The ability to share how one feels with a look, or a tone. Part of that includes by default, as an "ex", something so compelling and so unalterable in both of us that it caused us to not be compatible as life partners. Be that some type of "core" lifestyle difference (like bar hopping or wanting/not-wanting kids), how we plan our lives (or avoid doing so), or how we manage resources (money, time, contracts), etc. That doesn't always dictate that we can't be friends, just that we're not compatible enough to be with each other as partners.

I sometime feel a little sorry of people that throw away others, or deny the chance of having close and caring friends because of fear or jealousy. Because in the end, that what this is about. Fear of being intimate. Fear of someone not understanding a friendship. Fear that allowing a partner to have close friends, or a life, will draw them away from you in some way. Reality often is that not being close, not communicating, and not sharing your life with others, leads to more turmoil and breakups than being open and intimate ever has.

I cannot relate to this concept and have never even heard such a stereotype. I am a gay man and my friends are quite diverse - probably 60% heterosexual men, 20% heterosexual women, 15% gay men, and 5% gay women. It would never occur to me to be romantically or erotically attracted to most of them or to consider dating or having sex with them - even in my single days. I have slept with a few of my friends who are gay men and heterosexual women in the distant past (plus one gay girl and three heterosexual guys) but it never comes up now or has a negative effect on our friendship.