We all should have a friend like David Bedrick. The author and therapist shared a letter he recently wrote to a group of straight male friends. One night they were all out celebrating and, while Bedrick had a good time, there was a moment of discomfort.
‘I believe it was twice that I heard someone say, in reference to our two friends who were about to be married, something like, “As long as it is to women,"’ Bedrick wrote in an op-ed in the Advocate.
He understands the comments were meant to be humorous, but goes on to explain why as a straight man he finds such jokes troubling. And it’s not because he wants to hang out only with ‘nice guys.’ Instead he wonders if such jokes cheapen the deep bonds of friendship between men.
‘Second, the teasing was not only at the expense of gay men, it was also at our expense —marginalizing a way of relating to each other that including tenderness and warmth, touch, and love.’
Is the teasing about ‘gayness’ a cover for a fear about softness in straight men?
‘What about my softness, my tenderness, my sweetness, my sensitivity? Is there room for that? To be direct, I feel that the teasing about gayness also adds insult to these qualities in me. I want to love men fiercely: fierce in my muscle, my capacity to stand my ground, and speak my mind, as I do here. I want to love fierce in my capacity to receive, to be soft body flesh, and tender in my caress and touch of a bearded cheek.’
He ends by noting this conversation serves everyone, from LGBT brothers and sisters to the straight guys horsing around at a table.
But like a good friend, Bedrick wants a conversation. He’s made his point and now wants to hear from those buddies.
‘If we need to take issue with each other, to butt heads, let us do it directly, in intimate relationship with one another. Not at another’s expense.’
Who wouldn’t want to get a note like this?