I did a backflip when I first heard this term! So what does it mean exactly?
“Bro-Job” is a slang term to denote sexual contact between 2 men who identify themselves as heterosexual.
I first heard this term from a gay friend last month when I was talking about how straight men often hit on gay men. “Oh! So he wanted a Bro-Job?” he asked. Though I now believe the term means something slightly different and my friend was using it wrong. The 2 people involved may not be gay at all and may both identify as heterosexual. The contact is usually restricted to “lending a helping hand”, sometimes extending to oral-sex and rarely extends to something more substantial.
As I have blogged before, there is a difference between sexual identity and sexual activity. While identity may have varying flavors within each, it is far more rigid. But there is a fair bit of flexibility when it comes to sexual activity. This is not just in men, but in women as well. But while there is acceptance, even “perverse” pleasure at times, in acknowledging sexual contact between women, there is a point-blank refusal to even acknowledge that such contact happens between men.
Most men will seek and enjoy sexual contact, from someone of the same gender, but will not acknowledge it! “Oh bro! I was sooo hammered last night! I dont remember anything that happened“! ? Its like it never happened! And with good reason too! While same-sex contact between women is seen as liberating, similar contact between men is often seen as “feminizing” and “degrading” – one leading to the other. Hence a staunch refusal to acknowledge such contact. It is for the same reason that even the rare guy who admits to such contact will emphasize so strongly that they are “tops” or the male partner in such activity. Acknowledging that such contact has happened will usually set the stage for gay-shaming and bullying, and no one wants to be at the receiving end of that!
Some friends who have come to me for counseling have said that they felt they were gay. Why did they feel that? Because they they had sexual contact with male friends and the rather difficult admission that they even enjoyed it. Hence the doubt in their minds if they could be gay?
Heres the thing – you are not! Mere Sexual contact with the same gender does not make you gay, even if you may have enjoyed it! Being gay is a lot more complex than that! When I come out and say that I am gay, the reference is to my sense of identity, my hopes and dreams of love and relationships and all that. Sex is but a small part of it!
Jane Ward covers this aspect brilliantly in her book Sex between straight White Men (INR560 for Kindle edition). As Ward brilliantly points out in this book, “sex acts between men are not symptoms of a suppressed gay identity, but rather an example of the fluid nature of human sexuality“. There’s the concept that some men find uncomfortable dealing with: that sexual arousal by nature can be fluid.
Further Ward says, “By understanding their same-sex sexual practice as meaningless, accidental, or even necessary, straight white men can perform homosexual contact in heterosexual ways.” Could not have put it better!
I have often seen straight men pursue other men for a hookup. One reasoning I heard before was that it was easier to pursue an affair with a guy than with a woman. I found it ingenious at the time, but I am beginning to understand it better now. Sex usually has an assigned context in heterosexual relationships. So for men looking for no-strings-attached, purely physical release, another man is usually the best bet.
Then there are also social constructs that make heterosexual contact with other partners difficult if not impossible – especially for married men or those in committed relationships. Hooking up with other women may be the preferred choice, but is often more difficult to justify both to partners & family. For men in committed relationships, meeting a male friend over drinks is easier than meeting a female. The situation is just easier to explain away!
So to summarize, the Bro-Job is a known entity. It has been known to happen! Acknowledging it is the first step towards resolving the guilt and self-doubt that so many heterosexual men needlessly suffer through! And hopefully some day, ending the phobic reactions when we talk of such contact.
For the gay-men who are reading this, who may have been at the receiving end of advances, welcome or otherwise, it might be a good idea to go through my earlier post Ringa-Ringa-Roses, especially the checklist at the end!