Why do so many gay couples look alike?…
By Jesse Boland
At first you think you’re seeing double. Have they finally perfected human cloning? you wonder. Not quite. Was the movie Us based on a true story? Not exactly, but you’re getting warmer. Has fascism become so hegemonically embraced in Western culture that we are all slowly blurring into one idealized image of beauty to conform to Eurocentric standards of presentability and respectability in an oligarchical consumerist society? I mean…probably, but that sounds like a much smarter article and we won’t be talking about that here. No, this strange spectacle you’re bearing witness to is a far more terrifying manifestation of mankind’s twisted narcissism ripping the fabric of our existential being: the phenomenon of boyfriend twins.
Boyfriend twins are the colloquial term for two men in a romantic relationship who bear uncanny visual similarities to one another, rendering them virtually identical – minus the obvious signifiers, of course; Brandon has light-brown hair whereas his boyfriend Brendan has dirty-blond hair; Steven’s eyes are blueish-green unlike his partner Stephen’s, which are greenish-blue. Well, duh.
This bizarre mitosis between Mike and Otis may at first appear to be a temporary fluke of two guys who simply happen to be of equal heights and who fell in love while shopping for black bomber jackets in the same size at Zara. But there are many more complex and nuanced reasons for men dispelling the notion of opposites attracting when searching for a partner.
For one obvious factor, dating someone who is your exact physical double can be an indicator of shared lifestyles and routines. While the concept of dating a man who is absolutely shredded and muscularly sculpted has been sold as the gold standard of desirability in men, it is essential to be reminded just how time-consuming a routine it is for men to dedicate hours of their lives in the gym away from home. If their partner does not share such a dedication to spending hours upon hours exercising, this can cause a massive rift and it (ironically) may end up not working out for the two of them. Contrasts in personal grooming and fashion sense can be another indicator of juxtaposing lifestyles as well as differing values in the importance of self-presentation.
While these are all surface-level signifiers of one’s sense of vanity, a shared commonality in superficiality can at the very least set a foundation of mutual interests in establishing a relationship during its early stages.
With that being said, boyfriend twins are not simply two men with similar body types who share clothes and synchronize their hairstyles; they are men who indeed look eerily similar, right down to their facial features, skin tones and even mannerisms. This is where things tend to get a bit more serious, as it is almost impossible to talk about the politics of desirability and beauty standards in Western culture without addressing white supremacy. Simply put, we as gay men have always been taught through media that the ultimate tier of male beauty is a ripped, peach-skinned, smooth-cheeked, twenty-something, blue-eyed, blond (or light brunette if you’re feeling zesty), white dude.
When gay representation was first being introduced into film and television, it was decided that if the world was to be exposed to queerness, it would need to be as palatable as possible to appease the masses. Sadly, there has been hardly any progress from the earliest Tom of Finland illustrations to the casting choices of a present-day Ryan Murphy production. Identical images of male sexual attractiveness are perpetually being recycled to maintain this impossible standard, with no room for advancement: for all we know, Sean Cody could just reuse the same roster of 10 models, simply changing their names every six months so no one catches on. For gay men – who since early development have been shown a singular idealization of attractiveness that they should not only desire but also emulate – it’s easily understood as to why this homogenization of homosexuality is so prevalent in our community’s dating pool.
Now, much of that is assuming that we all live in a fantasy world or CW Network original series that sadly sets us all up for unrealistic expectations of both our ideal lovers and ourselves. Yet in the unusual, but certainly not uncommon, circumstance that someone who doesn’t quite fit the typical criteria of conventional attractiveness finds themselves dating a man who many would perceive to be a 10 out of 10, that too can carry a certain baggage with it.
Jealousy certainly exists within heterosexual relationships as well, but with same-sex relationships it carries with it an added weight, given that the two partners are held to a much closer standard to one another. While you may find yourself absolutely enamoured by the beauty and perfection of the beloved beau you are proud to call yours, it is not uncommon for such infatuation to occasionally cross over into feelings of inadequacy when comparing yourself to someone whom you, in your own words, describe as being “perfect.” It’s not easy to constantly be wrestling between feelings of pride and envy when looking over at the mesmerizing beauty of your dearly beloved’s soft eyes, chiseled face and flat stomach while simultaneously comparing and contrasting that to your own questionable appearance. The cliché “how did I ever get so lucky?” may read in a very different tone day to day.
Even for those who feel secure enough in their own appearance to stand proudly by their Adonis boyfriends, there is, tragically, the glaring scrutiny of the bitter public adamant to remind you of your place. While horrendously hideous men dating gorgeous women miles out of their league is a trope as old as time itself, and the visual of a non-typically attractive woman linking arms with a himbo boy toy in turn feels somewhat empowering and rectifying, for same-sex couples there is only blaring criticism for which partner is immediately labelled the hotter-one and the less-hot-one. In same-sex relationships it is not a matter of comparing apples to oranges but rather Macintosh apples to Golden Delicious apples. This creates room for very noticeable and “justifiable” comparisons that can create an unhealthy imbalance in power dynamics over who is deemed the superior in the relationship, often planting the seeds to an imminent doom.
With that in mind, it can be understood why so many gay men tend to gravitate towards men they find to be their better match in a more literal sense. By dating someone who could be their near-identical twin – finding a balanced pairing in their equilibrium of tangible attractiveness – they are protecting themselves from the unhealthy comparisons and scrutiny of both the public and themselves. Furthermore, dating someone resembling themselves allows them to embrace their own beauty, which they perhaps had once struggled to accept. For a man who has throughout his life struggled to accept his oddly shaped nose, finding love with a man who has an almost identical nose – and happily celebrating that unique feature in the loved one – can serve as the first step in him embracing that beauty within himself. Sometimes we need to see the beauty of our own body reflected in someone else before we can celebrate it in ourselves.
One of the most common of conundrums for homosexual men and women is frequently asking ourselves when we see a hot person, “Do I want to look like that person, or do I want to date them?” And as we’ve come to see, sometimes the answer is both! There can be any number of reasons to explain this bizarre trend of gay men so blatantly desiring to find a partnership with their own carbon copy: narcissism, insecurity, racism, practicality, egotism, or just simply wanting to double your wardrobe. Perhaps many of us have simply been told to go fuck ourselves enough times that we finally said, Bet? and actually followed through with it. For some, the old cliché of “opposites attract” in finding a partner truly does allow them the opportunity to embrace an entirely new walk of life that makes them feel complete, while others simply want to be with their exact double so their next Halloween’s couple costume can be to go as both versions of Mariah Carey in the “Heartbreaker” video.
After all, when searching for love, many of us tend to have a type that, for some reason, we gravitate towards. Is it so wrong for you to be your own type?
JESSE BOLAND is that gay kid in class who your English teacher always believed in. He’s a graduate of English at Ryerson University with a passion for giving a voice to people who don’t have data on their phones and who chases his dreams by foot because he never got his driver’s licence.
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