The Bonds Between Brothers and Boyfriends

March 3, 2011 § 7 Comments

How would you feel if mere minutes after your boyfriend said his goodbyes as he drove away from your school, you receive a voicemail saying: “I don’t exactly – we just – we just got into an accident. The car is totaled.” If you’re anything like me, you may chuckle at the absurdity of what was said, more so out of disbelief than actual humor. He must be joking, obviously. Then your mind begins to rationalize the situation and process the fact that he called therefore he must be somewhat unharmed. You hope. Yet even after rationalizing, your stomach turns and you begin immediately to run to the accident site.

Its a peculiar feeling, one of brief internal panic – gut wrenching and tumultuous. It is a feeling I rarely experience and only experience in extremity for the people I care most about: my family, my friends, and my teammates. Admittedly, my teammates have yet to fall prey to car accidents, so the circumstances are different. This past season when a teammate fell in a race, my reactions mimicked what I felt after hearing of my bf’s accident. When I realized my teammate was not getting up, the reaction emerged, feeling like a punch to the gut and an immediate reflex to race towards him.

Now I know what some of you may be thinking: a car accident and a brief trip on the track warrants the same response? My answer to you – of course not! I was by far inmore of a panic when my teammate fell. While I care about my bf, I have not spent the past 7 years of my life training 2-3 hours a day with him. The sweat, blood, and tears my teammates and I have shed allow for a bond which is seemingly unbreakable.

Such a bond is a gift, one which I hope no athlete misses out on for fear of homophobia on the team. In all honesty, I love my team. Many high school guys skirt the “L” word in relationships let alone when describing their team, or their male teammates – but I love my team and I think it’s rather deprecating of oneself to rule out an honest emotion.

An athlete can feel the gut wrenching pain for a teammate and a bf, but the reason behind both is different. I have no attraction to my teammates, they’re far too straight and I feel it is rude to even think about them in such a way. If a guy would not think about his sister in that way, why should a teammate think about his “brother” in that way? His brother in sport that is. My reaction shows how deeply I care about their health, their running, their selves – not how attracted I am to them no matter what others may think.

I hope to prove this fact to my peers. I can love my team and I can like my boyfriend; each emotion emerging from a vastly different faucet. While immaturity may blind some to this truth, the example I set will hopefully enlighten them.  I’m not afraid to say that I love my team and neither should any of us. Admitting to love and appreciation is not emasculating. If anything, it is the greatest thing a man can do. For without love and appreciation, what are we?

Do you have a thought on the bond between teammates? Would you agree that you can truly have a “brother” in sport? Tell us in the comment section below!

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§ 7 Responses to The Bonds Between Brothers and Boyfriends

  • Theo says:

    If you need an idea on something to write about, I think you should give your insight on the situations at Belmont University and BYU.

    At Belmont, the women’s soccer coach was fired because she came out of the closet to her team as a lesbian.

    At BYU, an important mens basketball player was kicked off the team for having sex with his girlfriend (BYU is a Mormon school which abides by a ridiculous Honor Code).

    I think it would be interesting to hear your take on religion, religious freedoms and the role they play in morality.

    • Craig says:

      Thanks for the suggestion Theo. I will contemplate writing on the topic, but for now I may stay away from the BYU situation as I don’t know all the facts. You can expect a few pieces from me on religion and religious freedom though, and I will keep your ideas in mind

  • Barry says:

    I understand what you’re saying and agree with you. I also see the love you have for your sport. I agree with just about everything you said and hope that your teammates have taken it in the light it was meant to be taken. As boys and men we are brought up to believe that if you touch another guy, or tell him you like or love him, it almost always seems to be taken with a homophobic connotation and they pull away as if a leper had just laid hands on them, when most of the time it’s really just a true expression of that real love that one person has for another that has nothing whatsoever to do with sex or homosexuality. Why our society has come to this point is hard to understand, but it has. By writing about it you haven taken a great step in differentiating the love of a boyfriend or mate and the love a friend can have for another friend. Sometimes there is a fine line between them, but there is also a line that that is never crossed, and that takes time to educate and confer that trust to others that you are not “glancing” in the locker room, or touching them on the shoulder because you want to “jump their bones.”

    I may have missed this in your message, but I wanted to make sure that as you leave school and move on, and if you and your current boyfriend remain in, and develop a true relationship, that love takes on a different meaning. One that is much more than the love that you are talking about for a team member or a friend. I say this because in a relationship, and I’m sure you know this, your partner must always come first in love and all other matters while you both then walk another fence of still retaining your individuality.

    Relationships and their meanings will change and reshape themselves all through your life, but if anyone can see those changes and understand them you’re the guy. And…whomever you choose to settle down with someday is going to be one lucky guy is all I can say!

    • Craig says:

      Thank you for another eloquently worded comment Barry! My definition of love has various meanings depending on the contexts. Like others have mentioned, the love for my parents is not the same as the love for my teammates or the love for my sister. I do look forward to the day when I can say “I love you” to my husband, but at this time I can’t say I have experienced love with a partner so I cannot comment on its definition other than it is something I look forward to finding out. :)

  • JC says:

    First, glad to hear the bf is ok. You didn’t say, but in looking at the pic, it looks like any passengers were probably more shocked and frightened than physically hurt – hope that was the case.

    Second, I have to agree with your statements about the kinds of love one can feel for different characters within your life. You love your parents in one way, friends and teammates another, and a bf yet another. You can probably add loyal to the descriptives of what you share with your teammates.

    After all the blood, sweat, and tears shed over the years and hundreds of miles run together, the bond that is shared by xc/track teammates is one that is very solid and will always be remembered. I’ve always told my teams that the bonds developed within our sport are stronger than any other high school sport, and they’re skeptical at first, but then they learn it’s because during all those runs you talk and get to know each other, whereas that doesn’t happen in other sports (plus it’s kind of hard to talk while you’re swimming).

    My thinking is that actions often speak louder than words. If your actions within the locker room or in practice suggest something other than the kind of love appropriate for a teammate/friend, they’d let you know you’re out of line. Trust me, you’d already know if your teammates believed you meant a different kind of love when you say “I love my team.” After so many miles of trials, and trials of miles (from “Once a Runner” – great book and you should read it if you haven’t already) I hope the love is reciprocated.

    Coach Sanborn

    • Craig says:

      Thanks for the great comment Coach Sanborn. I wholeheartedly agree that running teams have some of the strongest bonds out there. Our sport is extremely social and, in all honesty, painful. That pain allows for a lot of bonding as we can all relate.

      Thankfully my teammates understand what I mean when I say I love our team. It is a benefit of being as close as we are. But you raise a good point about stepping out of line – I would never cross the line knowingly and I always try to stay as far back from the line as I can. I’m curious to see if most gay athletes feel this way – I would assume so, especially since one of the largest parts of sport is respect.

  • Jacob Woods says:

    That is terrible of you to admit. But I value that honesty! So true of the way humans function.

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