I couldn’t help but giggle as I listened to a group of students in the lab argue over the homoerotic nature of TOP GUN (if you don’t know about this, scroll down to see remarks when you follow this link — more is in the sidebar). But then I started thinking about romance novels.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every hot man sans skid marks is gay. It is also a truth universally acknowledged that all romance novel heroes are hot.
I have never read a romance novel where the hero has skid marks. Ergo, all romance heroes are gay.
Until, of course, the heroine de-queers him.
The most obvious example of this is in the books that follow the TOP GUN formula. I like to call these:
THE GAY WIDOWER ROMANCES
Here’s the scenario: the hero is a rebellious military/cop type. The usual psuedo-masculine-that-really-hide-homoerotic-impulse activities go on, such as taking showers together and then hanging around half-naked in towels, playing volleyball with shirts off, swilling beer from phallic bottles, and on and on.
Then, through no fault of the hero’s (although of course he takes the blame), his partner dies.
Gasp! His heart is broken. The tender comfort of his homosocial relationship has been shattered, and he will never, ever, EVER make a commitment again. He will never take another partner again. NEVER!!
Until, of course, the heroine comes along and convinces him otherwise, and introduces him to the new comforts of a hetero partnership. And it’s not just a matter of trading in the flight controls (a stick for a button).
Once he finds and forms that new partnership with the heroine, then he is also free to go back and re-establish his relationships with those in the former homosocial circle, but under different terms. He goes from being “dangerous” to getting offers of “you can be my wingman anytime”. Why?
Because the luv of the heroine has put his former rebellious behavior in the proper, de-queerified context. He’s safe now, and his energies are directed toward being all alpha with the heroine.
Which leads me to the second most obvious type of this behavior:
THE CONFUSED BROTHERHOOD OF BACHELORS
You know, those Regencies where all the guys huddled together to protect the Mighty Penis from the feminine and domesticating chains of marriage? It explains a lot about those cross-dressing-heroine plots, too.
In those cases, the men bond together so that they can keep boxing at Gentleman Jack’s or wherever. They hump a bunch of women to keep up appearances, but really all they want to do is get back to the club where they can admire each other’s manly virility.
Then along comes the heroine, and even though the guy is a man-slut, he’s all: “I’ve never felt like this before! I’ve never trusted a woman like this before! I’ve only ever (OMG!!!) had this type of cameraderie with my fellow bachelors!”
And, of course, all the other bachelors like her, too. They’re like: “She’s really cool, Lord Wolfmonsterdick.” In these cases, it doesn’t seem as much a movement outside the homosocial circle as a bringing of the heroine into the circle. (Alas, these scenarios never end up in an orgy.)
In these Regencies, the man is de-queerified, but only because he moves outside the ‘official’ circle: he’s not a bachelor anymore.
Deep inside, he’s still there. And, once the entire series has been completed, they can form a new circle: “The No-Longer Confused Married Men: Now If Only I Can Convice My Wife To Take It Up The Butt” group.