Steve and Paul—two highly extroverted-feeling men—meet one another and they have an immediate connection and common interests. The effect of a Puritanical attitude still pervasive in our culture says “Don’t show affection, be controlled with your feelings.” But that’s not who they are. They’re passionate. They feel deeply and need to express those feelings. They love their friends; the feelings are all there on the surface. But they don’t feel comfortable expressing those feelings because the specter of Puritan modesty restrains them.
Maybe, if they lived in times past, when men had places where they could really connect as men, they could express themselves in some way. But that’s not the case in modern culture with fluid interaction between the sexes and lack of “man-only space.” So what do they do with their feelings now? Suppress them or show them?
One would hope they can simply show them, but because of the impact of sexualization, they interpret that expression in a sexual way. As a result, the two men either don’t want to be thought of as gay (because they’re not, not because they necessarily think homosexuality is wrong), and they withdraw. Or, they begin to doubt and wonder, Am I gay?
“I get excited when I’m with Paul,” Steve says to himself. “He puts a spring in my step just talking to him. I’m stimulated by his intellect and insight. He makes me feel more alive after talking to him than I did before. Those feelings are so strong they must be sexual. I must be gay.” Paul feels the same. But they’re not gay at all. They don’t want to have sex with each other. They’re simply men who feel and express deep passions and feelings, and they want to connect with someone with common interests.