A few days ago there was yet another article in the NY Times that was discussed to death on the Z100 morning show, and in a few of the blogs I read. The topic of this article was “man dates”. Basically, the article was about the inadequacy men feel when hanging out alone with another man in a setting that involves neither alcohol nor sports.
I wasn’t going to say anything about it because I thought that the only thing that article did was prove, yet again, that the value system in this side of the world is completely warped and that rather than live in a progressive society, we live in a homophobic culture that breeds these silly ideas; however, last night I witnessed something totally beautiful and completely related that I thought I would share.
Last night I was hanging out with my friend Phillip. For the record, he comes from a Dutch family but was raised in Santo Domingo. At one point throughout the night, he decided to call our friend Michel, who is German but was raised between America and Europe. They are both heterosexual.
After a lovely conversation between the three of us full of laughter and fun, the time came for us to say our good byes. At the end of the conversation I said “kiss kiss” in response to Michel's “kiss kiss”. Then while Phillip and Michel were saying goodbye, I heard them say to each other “muchos besos” (translation: lots of kisses).
The friendship they share is very deep and meaningful, so for me to be able to witness that was priceless. I also thought it was very cool that they were secure enough with their own sexualities to be able to express such love.
This reminded me of an incident that happened during the time that we lived in Germany when my brother Gus and I went to visit our family in Santo Domingo. While we were all in the car driving somewhere some radio show was having a discussion on displays of affection among men. My step father, who is a very traditional Dominican, thought that men kissing was equated with “mariconerias” (gay behavior), to which my brother, who is straight, said that it was non-sense and that it is okay to kiss good friends-even if they are male friends.
I thought that the fact that he said that was awesome because in previous months my step father had look in horror as I kissed a dear girlfriend on the lips and it took many cultural sensitivity discussions to explain that though said behavior was frowned upon in Dominican Republic, it wasn’t in other places.
In any case, I don’t know what the big deal about men spending time with each other is. Personally, I think that spending time with people of our own gender is good for us. Showing affection to the people we care about should be standard practice and not something for us to be ashamed of. I think that by teaching our boys that it’s bad or shameful to spend one-on-one time with their friends, and that you can’t show them affection, we are not teaching them the basics of fraternization and openness, and what’s more, we are promoting intolerance.