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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Guy Love" (Unit II)

The term "bromance" is one that has become widely understood in our society because it is all over the media. A bromance is a relationship between guy friends that is very close but not sexual. A bromance is a type of homosociality, which is a socializing with members of the same sex. According to Don Romesburg in his article "Holy Fratrimony," there are two different types of homosociality for men (aka bromances): old homosociality and new homosociality. Both of these categories of bromances are depicted in the media, especially in the television show Scrubs. In one particular episode, two of the main characters best friends JD and Turk show their different dispositions when it comes to their bromance.
JD represents what Don Romesburg describes as "old homosociality," which was culturally acceptable during the 19th century when men "shared emotionally expressive relationships" and never had to worry about being considered gay. JD does this by openly proclaiming his "guy love" for his best friend Turk in front of a patient without the slightest regard that some of the things that he says, such as "he's the only one that's been inside me," may cause the patient bystander to think that he is homosexual.
Turk, on the other hand, displays his affections more conservatively compared to JD. Yes, he reciprocates JD's physical affection, but he is always concerned about what conclusions the people around him are drawing, namely that they are a gay couple. During the song, Turk always clarifies that he is very heterosexual like when JD says, "It's like I married my best friend" Turk responds by saying, "But in a totally manly way," which insinuates his need to prove his masculinity. Turk is demonstrating the "fear that other men will unmask us, emasculate us, and reveal to us... that we are not real men," which was said by Michael S. Kimmel in the article "Masculinity as Homophobia." Even though Turk is not homophobic, this quote explains his need to counter every comment that JD makes that may be taken sexually and indicate that they are homosexual.
The song "Guy Love" from the show Scrubs is a perfect example of the differing approaches to a bromance. JD represents "old homosociality" by figuratively shouting from the rooftops that he loves his best friend Turk, and he doesn't care who knows it or what anyone thinks. Turk is a little more demure and concerned with other people will think of him, demonstrating "new homosociality." From what I've seen in society, "new homosociality" is more prevalent that "old" because most men are afraid to be labeled as homosexual. Why does it matter what other people think? If you are in a bromance, and you're comfortable enough with your sexuality, then why not show it? Girls do it all the time, so it doesn't make sense that guys aren't able to.

Burbach, Cherie. "Top 5 TV Bromances - Bromance Friendships on Television - TV Shows With Male Best Friends." Friendship at About.com - New Friendships, Ideas for Meeting Friends, Conflict Resolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Oct. 2011. .
"Masculinity as Homophobia" by Michael Kimmel.
"Holy Fratrimony" by Don Romesburg.


  1. It shouldn't matter what other people think, but unfortunately, our society is completely wrapped up in what other people think. Image, and others' perceptions of that image, is everything. Two girls having an intimate relationship is far more acceptable than two men doing the same because of different connotations of masculinity and femininity. A girl can tell her friend that she looks hot, but if a guy were to do this, everyone would be whispering that he's "gay." I'd deign to say that even the term "homosociality" would scare many men away simply because of the prefix "homo" and its real or imagined connotations, i.e. the fact that it may threaten their masculinity. I love the idea of the "old" homosociality because it seems incredibly free to me - two men who are comfortable enough with their identity, including and especially their sexuality, to shout it from the rooftops that they love each other. I think the shift from the "new" to the "old" has a lot to do with the labeling of homosexuality. Back in the day, when homosexuality was accepted and did not have a label or such strong notions attached to it, homosociality was accepted as well. But with the invention of the term "homosexuality," all male-male relationships, sexual or not, gained a kind of stigma, and this is sad.

  2. Yes! I totally agree! Its crazy that girls can go around saying that another girl is hot and holding hands in public when guys can't even fathom doing anything along those lines without being considered gay. You're completely right about the term "homosociality" scaring guys. I think they would much rather use the term "bromance."

  3. I am so sorry! I had no idea that you were using this example too! I promise I didn't steal you example, it was just such a perfect one I guess it had to be used multiple times! :D

  4. Very interesting topic! As a gay man, I have always wanted a bromantic relationship with a straight male friend. Unfortunately, I think that our heteronormative society especially discourages bromance between a gay male and a straight male, although my first boyfriend and his best friend (who was straight) had a bromantic relationship so I guess it does happen. It's actually kind of funny because the closest thing I have to a bromantic relationship is with my best friend who is a butch lesbian. She and I watch sports together, play video games together, and have "guy time" (time away from my boyfriend and her girlfriend). So maybe gay males can have bromantic relationships after all...at least with their butch lesbian best friends.

  5. The fact that we have the term "bromance" suggests that we live in a heteronormative society. This would not be a thing if homosexuals were treated the same as heterosexuals. Male friends who were more intimate with each other would just be considered good friends. My best friend and I (both of us are straight) have always had a weird intimate connection, and throughout high school we constantly received "gay" remarks from our other close male friends. This never really bothered us because we're both quite comfortable with our sexualities, but it's sad that we could not interact with each other without receiving harassment from our peers.

    Ps Nathan, I could use a bromance with a gay man. We can be friends.

  6. Those characters are absolutely perfect to show old and new homosociality. Whenever I watch the show I'm always shocked just how much JD comes off as a homosexual when he talks to or about Turk. Yet, he's completely straight (of course they have to prove this by making his character sleep with a large number of women).
    I totally agree that it is way more normal for women to express their love for each other. Women complement and brag about their friends all the time. Take Sex and the City, for example. The characters are always telling each other how good they look and admiring personality traits. If there was a show with four men doing this, it would get such a different reaction. The whole show would become about proving their "straightness."

  7. I totally agree with your blog. I don't understand why people have make sure that they are not coming off as gay. They always have to sensor what they say or defend their sexuality after they something that could be perceived as homosexual. If acting homosocial is and was so excepted than why do people especially men have to prove their sexuality. Society has caused men to be so fearful of being perceived as gay. It is quite sad. Why do we always have to be so concerned with what everyone else thinks?

  8. Lol @ Zach. I'm currently taking applications! Interviews start next week ;)