This man date thing strikes me as way overblown. Lee's article basically says that casual acquaintances feel a little weird doing things traditionally reserved for dates. Well, yeah. I go to movies and museums and nice restaurants constantly with my friends without a hint of embarrassment, but I wouldn't invite a guy I just met in my class to a candlelit dinner. It's not because I'm afraid of looking gay so much as the setting is incongruous for the interaction, the expectations don't fit what we're going to do. I also wouldn't invite a girl I barely knew to the opening night of a Broadway play. My choice of event wouldn't fit the context of my interaction, and we'd both feel off-balance.

Lee's piece, to me, is no different than arguing that showing up at operas dressed in jeans and an undershirt makes people uncomfortable -- social events have certain norms, and when you step out of them you, feel a bit odd. If Lee wanted to write an article on that, I wish her the best. But saying that it's some sort of homophobic phenomenon seems wrong. It's not that men have trouble doing these things, it's that men who don't know each other well have trouble doing these things. Same would happen to men and women who didn't know each other well -- I'd be markedly uncomfortable inviting a girl I barely knew to a gallery opening.

There's a different, and more troubling, issue underlying this concerning how tough it is for men to form new and close friendships, in part because of the complex rules governing the evolution of a relationship from occasional drinking to daily calls. But it's not homophobia dictating the initial interactions so much as a historical and socially imposed cap on the intimacy of male-to-male interactions, one that was around long before homosexuality became a snap diagnosis. But that has to be looked at on a male-by-male basis. My upbringing and experiences have left me, as the kids say, willing (even eager) to "share", and that trait generally serves me well in constructing friendships. On the other hand, it leaves some folks a bit uncomfortable. But that has to do with how they were taught to sync their internal life with the reality around them, not whether they'll be judged gay for admitting that they fought with their girlfriend last night.

Thoughts?

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