Frédéric Soulacroix's "Flirtation"
Walter Crasshole empties his fag bag and vents on the issues of the day. This month: why it’s okay for gay men to flirt with straight girls.
I slumped back in a fit of bliss as I closed my eyes and let the hands of my vivacious Finnish colleague – let’s call her “Viivi” – sink into my shoulders. I wasn’t expecting a shoulder rub. And I never said I was stressed, even though I was on deadline. So it was all the more welcome. We exchanged flirtatious glances. Across the room, my male English colleague from marketing glowered at us. He’s straight. “Why can’t I get a backrub too?” he asked. “You just can’t,” Viivi replied.
I sat there and thought how grateful I was to be away from the lawsuits and HR handbooks of the USA. Only in a Berlin office would this even come to conversation.
Viivi and I do have a very flirty relationship, from casual butt smacks to the spontaneous dance or cuddle. And it’s true: straight men can’t get away with what I can. There’s a special relationship that gay men and straight women have that straight men are alternately jealous of and don’t understand. Without getting gender-theory 101 on anyone here, even when there’s no power dynamic between women and straight men, there is one. The sexual element isn’t as playful because it always seems too real. Even though I would never suspect my colleague of straight-up Trump-esque groping, if he gave Viivi a backrub it’d just seem predatory and supremely awkward – cue that excellently illustrative clip of George W. Bush giving Angela Merkel a shoulder grab.
But why do gay boys and straight girls do it in the first place when we both know it won’t lead anywhere? The fact of the matter is: that’s the point! Whether boy or girl, we all need to play sometimes. On the dance floor at the very last DAF concert in 2015, my queer punk buddy Arschloch got a bit intimate (well, as intimate as you can get to DAF) with a straight girlfriend, and it was every bit as welcome as her boyfriend was.
The need to get in the sandbox and get dirty with a low threat level is fucking primal. And that’s what gay men and straight women have going on with one another. It’s full red-alert flirting with low expectations. We can get out the things we need to and no one suspects that bed – or worse, a relationship – is in the cards.
That’s not to say some of us aren’t scumbags. I’ve seen gay men come grab at a girl inappropriately at parties, just because they think they can. That’s not playtime. It makes it just as bad as when a straight guy does it.
But when it works, it works. The other day, as I walked into the office and sat down at my desk, Viivi came over to me. “Last night I dreamt I gave you a blowjob,” she blurted out. Then she laughed and I laughed too. And didn’t ask for any details. I just sat back with a smile on my face and thought, “Damn, it’s nice to be able to hear ‘blowjob’ from somebody and then simply check my emails. It beats talking about American Horror Story by the water cooler.”