You could probably call it a ”gromance” – the blossoming of a friendship between a gay man and his straight buddy.
It’s a fairly new phenomenon which experts attribute to more relaxed attitudes towards sexuality and male bonding.
And it’s only natural in an era that has witnessed the rise of the fraternal camaraderie known as a ”bromance”.
Even Hollywood hunks like James Franco have admitted to cuddling up with a man.
Reginald Witbooi, a 27-year-old journalist, met his straight BFF just over a year ago and they hit it off immediately.
”Our conversations never have a dull moment. I always had this idea that rugby players can’t participate in a constructive debate – a generalisation that is actually wrong. Jovan and I can talk for hours and walk away, both of us, happy. We also laugh and make silly jokes, which others don’t understand.”
Their friendship is based on shared values – free of the strictures that once characterised hetero/homosexual male interactions.
”We like to communicate with people from all walks of life. We’re both friendly and very outgoing,” says Jovan Cookson, a 21-year-old professional rugby player.
”Our relationship is strictly platonic. The two of us have a great understanding and don’t allow any negativity to get in the way.”
A 2014 study found that 98% of British students surveyed had shared a bed with another man – and they viewed it as perfectly normal. Ninety-three percent were equally nonplussed about spooning with another man. It’s a sign of the times, says one of the study’s authors, based at Durham University.
”We knew they [straight males] were hugging and cuddling and we wanted to understand this phenomenon in more detail,” sociologist Mark McCormack told The Huffington Post.
”How do men gain from rejecting the homophobia of previous generations?”
Such relationships can get a bit tricky if one of the parties develops romantic feelings, but the pros far outweigh the cons, said Michael C LaSala, an associate professor at Rutgers University’s School of Social Work.
”Few things can be a more soothing balm for us gay guys than a close friendship with a heterosexual man,” said LaSala, adding that this kind of acceptance can begin to heal abuse suffered at the hands of fathers, bullies and society at large.
”For the straight guy, friendship with a gay man offers the opportunity to learn important lessons about masculinity, male identity, sexual orientation and diversity,” LaSala writes on psychologytoday.com.