The church of manlove

My wife wishes I were gay, which is kind of ironic I guess. But it makes sense in lieu of what she really wishes—I mean, that she were a man—but that’s a whole nother story.

My own desire to be gay has more or less subsided, but as a lad, I really wanted to be gay. (Nothing adds to a teen’s angst quotient like a good homosexual preference.) Try as I might, however, I just couldn’t fall in love with another boy. Oh well.

Here’s the thing, though: being straight hasn’t prevented my falling in love with a few men, a state of being a friend of mine refers to as ‘gayishness.’ My manlove-gayishness is different from straight (sorry) homosexuality; it’s more like a deep desire to be held and reassured by someone stronger than I, stronger in that mannish (not manly) kind of way. Imagine one of Socrates’ students wanting to please his master as opposed to Socrates wanting to bang his pupil.

I spent some time thinking about who my top five manloves are, and I narrowed it down to the following; believe me, the competition was tight, and it wasn’t easy.

Let’s start with number five: my first big manlove, Phil Donahue. For those of you too young to remember, Phil invented the format that Oprah later came to dominate. Unlike Oprah, however, Phil got involved, but only to a point; you really felt he cared about the guest, issue, or whatever, but the man had his boundaries. Watching him, you sensed he was a loner, and maybe even a binge drinker.

I don’t know if it was the energetic way Phil ran up and down the stairs handing off the mike to audience members or his left-leaning politics. Perhaps it was a combination of the two plus that kind of whiney and sensitive voice, which he tried to mask with faux-sternness: “Go ahead caller, you’re on the air.” Whatever it was, I never thought I’d fall so hard for an Irishman.


Phil, you’re too dreamy, white hair and all.

At number four is the most shameful of my manloves: Brad. I know, I know, but what can I say? It was his role in Kalifornia that did it for me. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about. The sad and sick psycho type will always be hot. ‘Nuff said.


Brad, you dug the heart right outta my chest.
No, no, I don’t want it back. You can keep it.

Of my political loves, for the purposes of this post, I’ll settle for the biggest. Coming in at number three: Marty King. The good doctor’s had a hold on me since I first heard his quivering but authoritative voice, such longing, dreaming for a just future, but embracing the passion of the moment. Marty’s rarely seen smiling, which is okay with me. I like how serious he is. I mean, the man’s had some pretty fucked-up things to deal with, what with freeing a people and all.

The only sticking point between Marty and me is the whole religious thing. I just don’t sense the kind of manlove acceptance I might need from him. But in the words of Paula Abdul: “it ain’t fiction, just a natural fact; we come together cuz opposites attract.”


Marty, I too have a dream.

Coming in an incredibly strong second is Fred “Mr.” Rogers. This love has nothing and everything to do with strength: Fred is strong enough to allow himself to appear weak. As a child I never liked his show, opting for the kid-bling of “Zoom” or “The Electric Company,” but as an adult, I get it—boy, how I get it! I catch his show whenever I can, and my eyes well up every time he looks deeply into the camera and tells me that I’m special.

I love Fred so much that the fact that he was ordained as a minister doesn’t bother me. It actually makes him kind of sexier. Christianity and acceptance at the same time—are you kidding me? Hot? YES!


Be your neighbor? Hell yeah!

I’ve saved the best for last. A man who embodies all the traits of the others and then some (except, maybe, Brad’s psycho thing): Pa Ingalls.

Never has there been a man who’s so gentle yet firm, down-home yet intelligent, hardworking yet laid-back. Pa truly has it all, and that smile–it’s enough to make you drop the pitchfork mid-pitch.

Of course it’s important to recognize that Pa’s an incredibly traditional man, and he might need me to get a sex change; for him, I just might do it. I’d even churn the goshdarn butter all day long. Yes, there is no more desirable man, living or dead, than Pa.

And we have a winner! Pa is quivering with joyful tears as confetti and balloons rain down from the rafters. The victory tiara is placed on Pa’s head, and rests atop his ample locks. The theme to Little House fills the convention hall, and the words that accompany the melody are:

Pa yes it’s you that I truly love
Pa yes it’s true yes it’s you
Pa you are really hot
Without you I’m really not
Pa don’t leave me cold.
Pa don’t leave me cold!


Congratulations, Pa; like Mary, I am blind(ed by your love).

As the credits roll on this gay-la, I’d like to mention three others who came really, really close to making my top-five list: Gene, Steve, and Jimmy.


I know you’re bummed, guys, but here are some pointers for next year’s pageant: Gene, your hair needs to be fuller; ya know, like Pa’s. A good blow-out could do the trick. You may want to make an appointment with Ken Paves, “hairstylist to the stars.”

Steve, the juggling, banjo, and arrow through the head were all big turnoffs. It’s good that you dropped those hobbies, but what you’re still missing is muscle tone. I’d suggest some training sessions with John Spencer Ellis. I think he put Keanu in top form for The Matrix V.

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, what am I gonna do with you? You have the whole nice thing dialed in, and the southern accent really works for you, but that wardrobe needs to go. You may want to give Rachel Zoe a call, get those feet into some Jimmy Choos, and wrap that ass in some Vera Wang.

Gay enough for ya, Steph?

47 responses to “The church of manlove”

  1. bryan says:

    This may be the funniest thing I’ve read on this site.

  2. Rachel says:

    I’d never noticed how much Phil Donahue looks like the kid from A Christmas Story.

  3. Jeremy says:

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. oh. my. god. i don’t think i’m going to be able to stop laughing this week…

    (but no bowie? no jagger? no neil diamond?)

    the new debate: mr rogers or phil donahue?

  4. stephanie wells says:

    funny, I thought phil looked exactly like david hockney here.

    so much to say here . . . where do I even begin?

  5. bryan says:

    … to tell the story of how great a love can be?

  6. Stephanie Wells says:

    That should be, how great MANlove can be. The sweet love story that is older than the sea (hi, Plato!). I’ve been thinking, though, and realized that David Hockney is actually one of my own manloves, and if he looks exactly like one of Scott’s, what does that say about our relationship? Do we look alike? (Um, not really.) Are we really just narcissists drawn to images of ourselves?

    As for this list, I must admit to some surprise. I’ve always known Phil Donahue was my main competition from the start, and I was okay with that, so it’s shocking to see him barely scrapin’ the bottom of the list. I had my suspicions about Gene, Steve, Jimmy, and Pa, but BRAD? I must confess to astonishment here. He’s so . . . you know, CONVENTIONAL. And what? no Marvin Gaye?

    Honestly, I’m shaken. I feel like I don’t even know who I’m married to. I might have to fall back on some of my own fantasy idols, like Catherine Keener. And she’s just the tip of the iceberg, believe me.

  7. Lisa Parrish says:

    Wait, Stephanie W. is married to Scott Godfrey? Man, we really need that West Coast tree. Along with Swells’ full list. If C. Keener tops it, it must be good.

  8. Stephanie Wells says:

    You’re numba two, Lisa.

  9. ssw says:

    i don’t get the connection between the desire to be protected/comforted and sexual preference. isn’t the desire for a father(figure) quite universal? and brad pitt–he just crosses categories altogether i think. but gene? creepy! i can’t see him at either end of the spectrum (between father figure/sex symbol) am i missing something?

  10. Lisa Tremain says:

    only the fact that bryan w. and pa ingalls bear striking resemblance to each other. don’t ya think?

  11. M-Bo says:

    Oh, Scotty, my Scotty. Pa Ingalls I can understand. Mr. Pitt I can definitely understand. But GENE WILDER??? Obviously my homo designates up in the LB are not doing the Very Important Gay Work with which I entrusted them vis-a-vis mon S-Go.

    I’ll have to give you a refresher course on Saturday . . .

  12. Scott Godfrey says:

    Bryan, thanks for the uber complement.

    Jeremy, It’s Fred over Phil. I thought I made that clear.

    Lisa P, let the mystery stand. We west-coasters are much more interesting that way.

    Steph, I never understood your crush on C. Keener; she is so mean and harsh in every role she plays, and you are the all time arbiter of good behavior–plus you flag me for being too harsh all the time. What gives?

    ssw, The difference between father figure and manlove, as I define it, is the mentoring factor. I am not talking about seeking any type of guidance here. This is not about getting advice, but about pure crushiness.

    Are you saying I’m creepy for listing Gene, or Gene is creepy on his own? If you’re saying I’m creepy, sorry. But if you’re saying Gene is creepy, you need to check your stat-sheet girl. The man has the kindest eyes ever, and such a sweet, sweet smile—not to mention his amazing work in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and Stir Crazy. Yes, to answer your question, ssw, you are missing something.

    M-Bo, I see you, like ssw, are blind to Gene’s charms. Regardless, I look forward to a long evening of edification.

  13. S-Go says:

    And M-Bo, I know this whole gay routine of yours was just a ploy to get close you your ex-roommates glorious bosoms.

  14. hey lisa. you didn’t even see me with my 90s hair. i put that little house motherfucker to shame.

    and steph-wo: i’m totally down with cath keen. i would let her berate me anytime.

    as for gene wilder. another highlight of my summer was the farraby lionheart’s encore when he sang the “imagination” song from charlie and the choc fac. damn, what a fine song. but of course he’s no gene wilder.

  15. Ruben Mancillas says:

    In answer to your (must not take such an easy shot) query Scott, this is just plenty gay, thank you very much.

    Not one rocker in your list, huh?

    the luv that dare not speak its name indeed.

    And I would hope to see an NBA player on this list before too long.

    As for Ms. Keener, didn’t you find her sympathetic in Living in Oblivion?

    Either way, she’s no Gina Gershon.

    Oh yeah, West Coast Rules!

  16. Scott Godfrey says:

    Was Keener Sympathetic in Living in Oblivion? Yes. Was she hot? No. I do say heck yea on the Gerson thing, however.

    And Ruben, there is a rocker burried somewhere in this post. I’m shocked you didn’t see it.

  17. Jeremy Zitter says:

    godfrey, i was making a joke about starting a bowie-vs.-jagger-type debate: my call-out was to everyone else, not you.

  18. Scott Godfrey says:

    Sorry, J, I’ll hold my tongue next time.

  19. Ruben Mancillas says:

    Speaking of a whole other kind of manlove…

    Scott (and Jeremy too, for that matter), you’ve got time to post away here while you haven’t signed up for that other site yet.


    It’s what makes the West superior.

  20. oh — and by the way:

    Are you saying I’m creepy for listing Gene, or Gene is creepy on his own? If you’re saying I’m creepy, sorry. But if you’re saying Gene is creepy, you need to check your stat-sheet girl. The man has the kindest eyes ever, and such a sweet, sweet smile—not to mention his amazing work in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Producers, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and Stir Crazy. Yes, to answer your question, ssw, you are missing something.

    This is maybe the funniest comment ever.

  21. Lisa Parrish says:

    Bryan, you have so gone over to the West Coasters. They’re more funny, more fab, more gay than any of us. Ever.

  22. Lisa Tremain says:

    welcome, bryan. from the Other Lisa.

  23. Stephanie Wells says:

    Hey–I thought my Dancin’ in the Streets comment was the funniest comment ever, like, two days ago! Oh, fickle fickle Bryan, are you trying to start a rivalry between Scott and me? I am not into all these rivalries. Don’t you get it, Ruben? All these posts are about LOVE, not war. Let’s drop the divisions, people, and meet up in Philly. It’s an invitation, across the nation, a chance for folks to meet. There’ll be laughin and swayin, music playin, and both Bowie and Jagger, Gene and Fred, East and West will be represented with love.

    How’s your sugar shock NOW everyone?

  24. Scott Godfrey says:

    Too late Steph, Bryan’s convinced me. I’m way funnier than you and you’re just not good enough for me. By the time you get home, I’ll be gone.

  25. i think he’s moving in with porkpie.

    okay. you got me, steph. my mission was to turn scott and you against one another and get one of you back to the east coast where you (both) belong. enough of this california bullshit.

  26. Scott Godfrey says:

    I’m on my way, Bryan. My train leaves LA in about two hours, and in three short days we’ll be together. “reunited and it feels so good.” You always will be the Peaches to my Herb.

  27. Tim Wager says:

    Jeez, I thought we had some literature people on here! Don’t you know that in order to have some sort of plot or movement forward there has to be conflict? Don’t you remember when Itchy and Scratchy got all lovey dovey? “They love! They share! They love and share! Love, love, love! Share, share, share!” Too much love makes things boring. Of course, now watch me write the world’s sappiest (sp?) post next week.

    P.S. Bryan, if you steal Scott and Stephanie over to the east coast I’ll never ever forgive you.

  28. ssw says:

    Scott, You should check out the Get Naked column in this week’s Time Out. Look at the very last question and answer. Ready to hop on the shoulders of a new phase of your manlove?

  29. Lisa Parrish says:

    If only one of ’em is coming, I pick Steph. I’m numba two on her list. And no competition for Gene Wilder, in Scott’s eyes. To say nothing of “Mr.” Rogers.

  30. Scott Godfrey says:

    Of my MLs, the only one I could really imagine piggybacking would be Pa. Maybe there is something to the father figure thing you mentioned earlier. Now giving piggybacks is a whole different story, but that’s all about feeling someone’s genits rubbing against the back of my neck–definitely hot.

    Lisa, too late I’m already on my way.

    I have to say, I’m surprised at how much controversy Gene has stirred. I thought he might be one of my safer MLs. Love is blind.

  31. ssw says:

    my favorite part of Jamie’s response (who i adore btw–i read his column e-v-e-r-y week, often first) is when he says, so, um. just curious, exactly how do you feed this habit of yours? (when exactly is the right time to say to your pal, hey, wanna shoulder ride?) just to rant though, men are held to such different standards for any/most affection to each other that women have a lot more freedom to share (kissing, holding hands, brushing/playing with each others hair). what a double standard. Also, as long as i’m ranting, there is a great movie about male friendship/homoerotic tensions out in ny this week called old joy. i highly recommend it. not just because of the manlove–it’s also set in portland, and is gorgeous to watch. another perk is bonnie prince billy aka will oldham aka oh you know the drill…is in the film. not his music. he’s one of the two main characters. i definitely do not feel any man love toward him, and i don’t think i would want him on my shoulders. i might get on his, just for kicks.

  32. cwb says:

    When I was in China it was very unusual to see men and women showing PDA. However, it was very common to see men holding hands with men and women holding hands with women. It wasn’t homosexual (as far as I could tell). It was just how you treated friends.

  33. Scott Godfrey says:

    cwb, I think this silly country or ours would most certainly benefit from such a practice.

    I remember walking with a good friend in the Castro (a San Francisco neighborhood for you east coasters), and spontaneously, we put our arms around each other as we walked. I have to say, since we’d been friends for so long without any such behavior, it felt a little strange at first, but as our strides lined up, it felt really, freeing to be able to express our love and closeness with each other in such a physical way.

    Plus, how sweet is it when you see two little old ladies holding hands, whether or not they are partners. Pretty darn sweet I tell ya.

  34. Dave says:

    Old Joy reviewed here. Also at the Film Forum in New York this week and next, an encore of Army of Shadows, reviewed here.

    Gay as I am, though, I couldn’t imagine holdin hands with Gene Wilder. Or maybe that’s proof that I’m really gay.

  35. ssw says:

    dave i’m home.

  36. oops. that was me. how touching that i used the comments section of the manlove post to let my good friend dave know i was home safely in the early morning hours.

    in case anyone was holding his or her breath over this issue, we did make it back from lincoln center to bowery in time to see almost all of lambchop’s wonderful set. afterwards we walked to mercury to catch up with nicole, who had played there with the comas, and then wound up at pianos, where they played a late night set at 1. a good time was had by all. wish you had been there. it wasn’t the same without you (as farrell is always sweet enough to say).

  37. Mark says:

    All smiles and Mariachi?

  38. Ruben Mancillas says:

    speaking of Pa Ingalls and manlove…

    when questioned by Johnny Carson about the lifestyle of the Cartwright men on Bonanza (three adult unmarried sons with means still living with their dad) Landon replied, “many people thought we were homosexual-we weren’t-but thank God Hop Sing was!”

  39. no, mark — unfortunately not. but they did play a different one from how i quit smoking: “we never argue.” it was pretty darn nice.

    shoot. 35, 36, 37, and 39 should all belong to my lambchop post’s comments thread. you sucker, scott godfrey. how did you do this to me?

  40. hey scott. it struck me over the wkend that you never actually clarified the starting premise here — that steph wishes you were gay (or that she wishes that she were a man — a gay man so she could still love you if you were gay?). the lack of explanation was part of what i found so funny here. but is there a backstory we’re missing out on?

  41. Scott Godfrey says:

    Brian, in answer to #39: yes, those comments belong on the Lambchop post…or wait…there’s a little thing called e-mail, you may want to look into.

    Ruben, funny little anecdote, but you still haven’t cracked the rocker code I brought up in comment #16.

    Yes Brian, Steph loves gay men way, way, way more than straight men. So I guess that’s where my story begins. I’m sure that most Whatsitsers can relate; it seems that the coolest straight guys on the Internet happen to also be contributors. Coincidence?

  42. before you take me on for abusing the comments sections with personal exchanges, maybe you need to give pigpen and wagner a little talking to (not to mention jesus and the devil).

  43. Scott Godfrey says:

    Yes, Waterman, others may have fallen into the chasm, but dave i’m home? c’mon now. This also isn’t to say that I’ve stopped lovin the heck outa ya, ya little frick.

  44. bryan says:

    I thought it was to be understood that “Dave I’m home” was the product of a late, late night and three concerts. I basically typed it then fell over on the couch asleep with all my clothes on. How Dave managed to insert a link into his comment at that point I have no idea.

  45. Steve says:

    You touched a gay nerve with m when you mentioned Pa.
    less famous but a man crushnonetheless was Mr. Walker , the first black man I learned to love . What a man’s man…

  46. […] Scott Godfrey, “The church of man-love” Nathan Waterman, “Communication breakdown” Jeremy Zitter, “Dealing with divorce: a child’s guide” […]

  47. […] One afternoon, however, a significant aspect of my tough-guy facade changed forever: I was camped out at a friend’s apartment while she was at work, and it was there that my status as a non-crier ended. Some cable channel was broadcasting a Little House on the Prairie marathon, and I was sucked right in. (Some of you may be aware that I have a thing for Pa.) […]