The other day, I thought I was really being clever when a bolt of inspiration struck me that there could be a word for men being intimate with each other regardless of sexual identity -brogasm. Aha, I thought, I’ve invented a new word, and a really necessary one at that. In doing the obligatory Google search, I discovered that, sadly, brogasm already existed and is used to describe some joyous emotional states men have for other men. However, all sources make it clear these states are not sexual, that’s gay territory. For example, the Urban Dictionary says a brogasm happens when a guy thinks of a lot of his best bros at one time (apparently overwhelmed with excitement), or when an act of magnanimity is inspired by bromantic feelings which lead to such physical displays as chest bumping. I guess that shows how masculine, i.e., not gay, the guys are in the midst of such tender moments of emotional depth.
It was bad enough when the term bromance began circulating in the 1990s with its disclaimer that it did not refer to sexual feelings. The message was clear that it was OK for guys to have emotions for each other as long as they did not include sexual feelings – wouldn’t want there to be anything gay here. In thinking about brogasm, how can anyone seriously combine the words bro and orgasm and not associate a sexual dimension with it? It’s curious that we readily accept the notion of chemistry as being crucial in romantic relationships yet not as a basis for friendship. There is so much about the workings of our bodies and minds we do not understand that I am willing to bet something like chemistry is at work shaping most of the lives we lead and the people we associate with.
We tend to think most people’s sexuality is fluid and that it runs along an evolving continuum throughout life. If sexuality is fluid and chemistry is an important factor in deciding who we are attracted to as lovers and friends, then it makes sense that friendship can have a sexual dimension that is not necessarily a romantic one. The brogasm of my definition would help to fill a gap in language and understanding.
In my 20s as an openly gay male in liberal New York, I remember a couple of times when I found myself getting sexually involved with straight friends. What has stayed with me were their comments about how they had wanted to be naked with another man, touch his penis, and experience orgasm with him. These experiences were quite positive and did not end our friendships – both, by the way, continued to lead straight lives, at least until I lost track of them. Nevertheless, these experiences gave me insights into their worlds, which made me wonder about the emotional and physical tight jacket that has been placed on male to male intimacy. We definitely are the poorer for it.
It’s time to reclaim our physical and sexual selves from the taboo mongers and to affirm the inherent goodness and beauty of the body. As I have written in many of these posts, let touch be our guide – it’s wisdom is much older and greater than our conscious minds. After all, the forces of attraction that have shaped this planet have been at work for nearly 5 billion years – not a bad track record. Or, as DuPont once said, “Better living through chemistry”.