How dear you were to me
How wonderful was your love for me
Better even than the love of women. – 2nd Samuel 1:26
Many friendships in the Bible inspire. Abraham and Lot, Elijah and Elisha, Paul and Barnabas. But none comes closest to LGBT concerns like that of Jonathan and David. It’s the one friendship which seems to suggest that the prince and king-to-be were not just BFFs but also lovers; and if the same God who bitch-slapped Uzzah just for touching His ark didn’t strike Dave and Joe dead for all that kissing (1st Samuel 20:41), then same-sex relationships cannot be wrong.
However, their friendship is also one – in a long line of male friendships world over – whose interpretation as homoerotic stifles the innocence and potential of male-to-male affection.
One of the underhanded ways the world encourages homophobia is by perpetuating the idea that a man showing affection for another man just like that is strange, peculiar, suspicious or uncalled for: They must be doing something together. No two guys hug like that. Are they seriously smiling into each other’s eyes? This kind of thinking narrows the scope of what love means between human beings. Some men are reluctant to express their feelings for another man for fear of being labeled gay. A mentality which can prevent one from forming genuine platonic friendships, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parties involved.
Such friendships though, are probably not as commonplace as Hollywood makes them out to be – what with every romantic comedy having a “best friend” character. We will not all be lucky to have that friend we cannot imagine life without. That “twin” who anyone you date thinks is a rival for your heart (but is probably not); and who, likely, knows you better than anyone you’ve ever dated.
Decades before the famous bromances of our time – Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Will Smith and Tom Cruise, Uti Nwachukwu and Alex Ekubo – Hollywood already gave us Cary Grant and Randolph Scott. (I’m a huge fan of old movies, by the way.) Cary Grant, I’d say, was the George Clooney of the 1930s and ’40s: suave, funny, polished, his hair was slickly styled and women swooned under his charm. Stereotypically, I wondered: all this elegance in one man, could he be on our team? Well, it turns out Hollywood is still on that debate. Gay rumours trailed Cary and his best friend Randolph throughout their careers. Both of them, leading men, first met on the set of Hot Saturday and their friendship took off. They eventually shared a beach house in Santa Monica (ahem!) and later, a mansion in Los Angeles (hmm!). Between them, they had 7 failed marriages (lol!); and, according to one article, while other celebrities posed with their spouses on magazine spreads, these two were busy posing together in the pool, in the kitchen, and with books by the fireplace. There was even an incident where they appeared on the set of another movie (My Favourite Wife), and instead of checking into separate suites at their hotel, decided to share one room. Of course they were greeted with the “hian-kilode” look from the cast and crew.
Cary always denied the gay rumours and, apparently, he and Randolph enjoyed them; Randolph once referred to Cary as his “spouse”, and the pictures were a publicity stunt, organised by the duo, for a magazine story. (Side note: The best way to handle a gay rumour is to have a big sense of humour. Never take yourself too seriously. And remember to say something “bizarre” like: “I’d have sex with George Clooney.” *blushing for Channing Tatum*)
Hollywood and Nollywood are truly worlds apart, and I’m not just talking about the gap in the quality of their movies: Cary Grant and Randolph Scott lived together on and off for about 11 years – “longer than most Hollywood marriages” according to Homo History. When Cary died in 1986, at the age of 82, Randolph (88 at the time) was said to have put his face in his hands and cried. Three months later he, too, died.
In the case of Uti and Alex, I guess they couldn’t handle the media heat on them, so they had to settle for separate bedrooms apartments.
Just as we continue to speculate about David and Jonathan, we’ll probably never know if Uti and Alex were “just friends”, as they maintain, or if there was something more – not that they owe anyone any explanation. But one thing we know for sure is: whoever their handlers were in the industry (apparently no one in the league of Olivia Pope) should have put together the kind of publicity spread Cary and Randolph came up with in their time, to keep people guessing, instead of letting them run loose, jumping from one interview to the other and stammering shifty-eyed denials of the gay allegations. *shudders at the memory*.
Written by Absalom