Masculinity: It can be so fragile. If one tweet by Amber Rose can turn Kanye West into a butthole-denier (yo, he avoids that area completely), is it any surprise that the people on the internet — where people who think any dude touching another dude is “gay” — are freaking out about a picture of Michael B. Jordan and director Ryan Coogler just casually embracing? Because you know, dudes aren’t ever supposed to touch other dudes. Because that’s sexual. And wrong. And you know what else it is? Pretty toxic to dudes, because as new research suggests, it’s okay for men to hug.
The picture, which can be seen above, has been generating outrage since it first ran. Mic reports that when blogger B. Scott put it on his page, the Facebook comments (usually the picture of erudite, civil discussion) immediately disintegrated into people running around like their heads had been cut off and demanding to know why the pair (who have collaborated on two films and clearly have an affection for each other) were in poses that looked “effeminate,” “emasculating” and “non-heterosexual.” According to Mic, one commenter went so far as to say that “No self respecting heterosexual males pose like this naturally,” as if they’d done a survey of all self-respecting heterosexual males and their preferred photographic poses.
It would be a waste to do a roundup of the hateful comments here, but they’re not really the issue, either. The comments — those that immediately equate two men touching to something sexual — are symptomatic of a problem that’s been plaguing modern-day Western society, one that sees physical contact between two men as inherently homosexual, and sees homosexuality as something that’s bad, or abnormal, or kind of gross. Even when it just looks like the two men are chilling and taking some nice pictures. Even when there’s nothing even remotely romantic about the photo except that someone’s got their hand on someone else’s head.
As popular social media personality Son Of Baldwin puts it, this picture is important for a multitude of reasons, not least because it challenges popular perceptions of what the relationship between two men should be:
Michael B. Jordan, for one, doesn’t seem to have any problem with the picture (which is objectively beautiful). He retweeted it several days ago, and it’s still sitting proudly close to the top of his timeline.