“Bros” billed itself as a groundbreaking rom-com that would accurately portray gay dating life through the eyes of gay men – not some dopey studio executive saying “love is love, it’s love”.
In some ways, it succeeded. Promiscuity is not demonized and monogamy is not maintained on a heteronormative base. For example, the two main characters, Bobby (Billy Eichner) and Aaron (Luke Macfarland), participate in an orgy before they even have sex.
That never happens at “Schitt’s Creek”.
But the irony is that, in an attempt to push back the stereotypes, “Bros” is playing further into them. This is most evident in his depiction of gay athletes. Those in the film are presented as complete morons.
The first athlete, a chiseled football player, is briefly shown accepting an award and lamenting the difficulty of growing up as a hot white dude. The second is the cliché of the former high school athlete who is married with children and suppresses his sexuality. He posts a viral coming-out video, in which he thanks Colton Underwood for giving him courage (admittedly, it’s a funny line).
In other words, they are toxic gays. They are repressed and oblivious.
Later, Bobby and Aaron see a group of Adonis-like jocks playing football in Central Park. Bobby scolds Aaron for being drawn to “bro-ey, meathead idiots”, who rightly fight while he puts them down.
There is a stigma against the sport in some pockets of the gay community, and that’s understandable. For a long time, sports, and especially men’s team sports, have not been LGBTQ-friendly. There is still a lack of representation today. Carl Nassib is the only athlete currently playing in all five major men’s professional sports leagues.
But the idea that playing sports is incompatible with a full gay life is as old-fashioned as an Ed Hardy t-shirt. Take a look at our “Coming Out” section and see for yourself. We’ve published 20 years of stories about LGBTQ people in sport coming out and receiving widespread love and support.
On a personal level, my gay journey goes straight through sports – football, to be exact (OK, flag Soccer). As a newly released gay man, I found it difficult to make friends and meet like-minded people. Although I am far from being a great athlete, I felt more at home on a football field than inside a bustling nightclub. So I joined.
Now I am equally comfortable in both places. My footballing friends have introduced me to almost every gay experience I’ve had the privilege of having.
They can score touchdowns on the field and kill in the heels, okurrr?
Although Billy Eichner’s character is presented as the flawed but relatable protagonist, the “brother” he pursues, Aaron, is more complete and sympathetic.
Despite being an award-winning podcaster including curating the nation’s first LGBTQ history museum, Bobby has a dismal view of gay men. Maybe it’s because his gay life begins and ends on the Grindr grid.
Bobby quickly dismisses Aaron as a flaky idiot, but he ends up being wrong. Aaron is witty, has a successful career, and meets guys in real life.
Bobby may have taught Aaron to pursue his career dreams — he’s quitting his job as a real estate planner to become a chocolatier — but Aaron is the one teaching Bobby how to live.
In the end, there was more to “brother” than just being a “brother”. The same goes for the real-life version of the gay soccer player and former gay high school sportsman.