We're Not Gay; We Just Love Each Other
|Trope · Genre|
|Synonyms:||WNGWJLEO, Gay for You|
|See Also:||The Wave Theory of Slash|
|Tropes · Slash Tropes · Tropes by Fandom|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
We're Not Gay; We Just Love Each Other stories are those in which two straight, same-sex characters end up together, but do not see their sexual relationship with each other as having implications for their sexual orientation. The characters continue to identify as straight and describe their love for each other as a unique circumstance that transcends sexual orientation. Sometimes the term is more broadly used for all stories where the two characters start the story self-identified as straight, whether they allow their new relationship to influence that self-identification or not. (The term is not generally used for stories in which any character explicitly identifies as bisexual.)
The best-known example of this in mainstream fiction may be the relationship of Jennifer North with her school friend Maria in Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls. Maria taught Jennifer how to make love, on the pretext that men were too rough. "We are doing nothing wrong. We are not Lesbians like those awful freaks who cut their hair and wear mannish clothes. We are two women who adore each other and who know about being gentle and affectionate."
Examples of the story trope
From a 2002? Sentinel story: ""Blair, I'm not sure how to answer you on that. There were a lot of things on that tape that would turn me off big time if I pictured doing them with anybody but you. Maybe I'm not really bisexual. Maybe I'm just, I don't know, Blairsexual." Blair grinned widely. "Blairsexual," he said. "I like that. Wow. I guess that means that all these years I've been a closet Jimosexual." 
From a 2012 Sherlock story: "“I know I’m not gay,” he says. “When Harry came out, I went and read everything about it. I had to know, to make sure I—I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to accidently offend her or—just to know. I’ve never been attracted to men, er, before. I doubt it I’ll be attracted to another man again." 
From a 1995 Starsky and Hutch story: "Even after all their time together he was still occasionally surprised that he get so much pleasure from another man's body. But then, this wasn't just another man. Hutch had always been different, special." 
Interestingly, though the reverse of this is no where near as common, there is a canon reverse example of this in Bob and Rose by Russell T. Davies where a gay man falls in love with a straight woman.
Virtually all stories in the first few years of slash contained this lack of dealing with orientation.
Joanna Russ, in Another Addict Raves About K/S said, "K/S provides the female reader with a love affair in which both parties are fully worthy human beings who feel, think, and do sex in ways intelligible to women -- this leaves room for reading K/S as "Lesbian" as well as "heterosexual." .... The one thing K/S is *not* about is male homosexuality." 
From a fan in 1986: "[Name redacted] says he does not accept the K/S precept as plausible. Why? It is just as possible for their friendship to progress into a love-affair, for that is what it is, than to remain status quo. Which brings me to the point I attempted to make when I state that, in my opinion, menage a trois stories have no place in K/S. The very fact that Kirk and Spock become, or are, lovers without either one being homosexual per se, IS what makes their relationship special. Most of us see Kirk and Spock simply as two people who love each other and just happen to be of the same gender." 
Natasha Solten, an K/S fanzine publisher offers a slightly different explanation as to why early slash witers did not feel the need to focus on the sexual orientation of the characters. As part of the K/S Legacy project, she explains how early K/S fans did, in fact, grapple with whether Kirk and Spock were to be 'read' as homosexual. So many K/Sers "fought hard to not label them as homosexual....It is not becasuse of prejudice but I think in spite of it. I think Star Trek itself....taught princples of a kind of open-mindedness that saw people as people and not just labels. Also, K/S writers saw this relationship as special, not one of a series of affairs Kirk or Spock might have. And therefore the specialness meant that this relationship defied labels and boundaries.....it was and is a different kind of thinking because [Star Trek] is after all, in the future and science fiction." 
Gradually, these types of stories came under substantial criticism (both for being unrealistic, and for being borderline homophobic) and are now much less common. However, there are slashfans who miss those stories and feel that asking slash to be realistic in this way has made it less fun for them; from this perspective, slash isn't about real-life sexual orientation or lifestyle, it's a genre of romance. Catherine Salmon and Donald Symons wrote in Slash fiction and human mating psychology, "...slash fiction is so similar to mainstream genre romances that it could reasonably be classified as a species of that genus." (Note that the article itself contains conclusions that are not shared by some in the slash community.). Straightness is merely a romantic obstacle to be overcome, and overcoming it makes the romance more potent. As Lezlie Shell said so memorably, "Why is it our duty to accurately reflect the gay male experience? Is it the duty of gay male writers to accurately portray the lives of spinster librarians?"
- "I recently tried to explain K/S to my sister, who was completely grossed out, stating she did not have any interest in gays. I tried to explain my viewpoint, that Kirk is not gay, neither is Spock, they are merely in love, but she does not understand. I think it was best said by a fan on a message board, who wrote something like, what if you met your soulmate, and that person, by chance, happened to be the same sex as you? In my favorite stories, Kirk is not attracted to men, only Spock, and vice versa." 
- "Instead of portraying the same old "[Kirk and Spock] are not really gay, they're hetero men who just happen to like each other" relationships, why not portray them as gay men, perhaps in the tradition of Alexander and Hephaistion which I've seen in the British zines?" 
- "Next is another fairly new trend: generic K/S. This premise is dedicated to the pairing up of either Kirk or Spock with another male partner, thus attempting to answer the age-old debatable question: are they, or aren’t they…really gay?…I may be the last of a dying breed, but, personally, the thought of Kirk or Spock making it with some other…if you’ll pardon the pun… asshole, defeats the original concept of K/S. I like to believe that it was the unique chemistry between them that drew them together…not that either or both of them were just naturally inclined toward getting it on with guys…. [W]hat Gerry Downes has joined, let no fan put asunder.” 
For real-life examples:
- from Decompression by Shadow
- from Sometimes Lost is Where You Need to Be by stardust_made
- from "Noel's Story" by K. Brown and K. New in the zine Indigo Boys #2
- from Nome #8
- from Treklink #8
- From Legacy, vol 1, pg 142.
- See also Slash vs Gay Controversies.
- 'Slash fiction and human mating psychology', Journal of Sex Research, Feb, 2004.
- A discussion about the article and related book, accessed July 25, 2011
- Another interpretation is that the story trope is a convenient way to get around apparent canonical heterosexuality. Since most shows depict heterosexual characters a slash writer can: (1) Assume that the characters are only pretending to be heterosexual, and are concealing their homo/bisexuality. (2) Assume that the characters are being "forced" to appear heterosexual by the producer/director/writers/actors. (3) Accept that the characters are heterosexual . . . and then play the WNGWJLEO card. ~ comment from ' The Pitfalls of Fanfiction - WNGWJLEO', March 24, 2010.
- Quoted in Fans, Bloggers, and Gamers by Henry Jenkins, pg. 79.
- from The K/S Press #9
- from On the Double #9
- from Not Tonight, Spock! #3