Boyfriend Twins. Two spouses that share similar looks, attire, and quirks. More and more in recent years, this instance has been captured by much of gay and straight society, including a Tumblr showcasing same-same boyfriends. A novelty for some; a source of disdain, confusion and ridicule for others, the Boyfriend Twin phenomenon has become a somewhat controversial topic. Are they (or we, in my case), a phenomenon that should be looked down upon as being narcissistic, self-loving and almost masturbatory, or is the concept of two people who are involved in a romantic relationship, who share many similarities simply one that is logically bound to occur? Is the Twin Boyfriend a part of modern life, or is it simply a copy paste job?
‘That’s not my brother, that’s my boyfriend.’
‘Really? You guys are identical- Why don’t you just jack-off in the mirror if you think you’re so cute?’
These two lines, from the TV series Looking, encapsulate in one short offhand, yet brilliant repartee the conundrum of the Boyfriend Twin.
My boyfriend and I have been together for almost six years. One of the reasons our relationship has worked so well and stood the test of time (especially with regards to the apparently short shelf-life of so many gay relationships) is that we share many commonalities. We met at an art college where we both studied photography. We have similar family and ethnic backgrounds, the both of us being in large and loud Italian families. So I’m perfectly at home with his family yelling and carrying on, as he is with mine. To be attested by the fact that his family are over more and more these days which I absolutely love. A loud group of people shouting about pasta or pastizzi is what I call home.We have the same goals and expectations in life.We share the same love for photography, vintage clothing, Mid-Century Furniture and Architecture, fashion, art and food.
We also, to a stranger, look quite similar.
There’s not a week that goes by where a random person will undoubtedly ask if we’re brothers or cousins. It’s become something of a ritual in our life together. The last instance was on King St in Newtown the other day; Adrian and I were walking hand in hand, and of course a charity worker attempted with much feigned joviality if we were indeed ‘twins’. This has happened countless times in the six years we have been together, and I used to get slightly upset but nowadays I’ll roll my eyes and walk away, or offer some half-hearted quip in reply. If only I could be more like that doyenne of sarcasm and wit, the irrepressibly cynical Daria Morgendorffer and offer up an impeccably witty reply, but alas eye-rolling is all I can summon up at short notice. Perhaps if I had a team of writers scribbling away nearby I would be able to retaliate with some hot zingers.
My boyfriend and I both have dark features, we’re relatively close in height (I’m shorter), and subsequently both share a wardrobe. Part of the perks of being in a Gay co-dependent relationship include having a much expanded wardrobe. If we both sport beards the effect of ‘Sameness’ is threefold. At times in these awkward social situations where we’ve been asked if we were brothers or at least cousins, I would reply with an emphatic ‘Yes!’ and land a big sloppy kiss on my almost-brother from another mother. I’ve been mistaken as being a member of my boyfriend’s family at large weddings, where relatives from far-flung places will look at me with confusion, think I’m a lost third cousin twice removed and then I’ll have to have that awkward conversation where I explain that no, I’m with Adrian. At the start of our relationship I found this completely unnerving, as like many detractors and critics of people who go out with people who are similar to each other, I wanted and clung desperately to my own identity. I’d spent years in my family being my own person, able to pretty much dress or be however, or whomever I want.
The funny thing is, I certainly didn’t go out of my way some six years ago to find someone who for many outsiders appeared to be a carbon copy of myself. And I don’t think many people do, to be honest. These things tend to run organically and without rhyme or reason. Who is to say that someone who is in a relationship with a similar-looking person to themselves is shallow and narcissistic? Who determines that this is wrong? Should we think the same and judge a relationship wherein one partner is much older than the other? I find more and more in my supposed years of wisdom that there is a lot of judgement and criticism out there, and that I am less and less lenient towards any directed at me. I have no time for it these days. The constraints and homo-normative imperatives on our relationships can be stifling if one analyses things: One partner has to be different enough to the other, recognisably so. Both partners need to be of the same or similar age. And of course, subsequent issues of attraction come in to play. We put ourselves under so much judgement on ourselves, on our looks, bodies, friends and lifestyle, not to mention others. Is it reasonable to have such high expectations and requirements in a relationship?
Before I met my boyfriend, I loved and craved my independence, and my own identity. Fast forward years after meeting my boyfriend, sometimes I would wonder to myself whether I had lost some sense of this once fiercely defended independence. Had being in a relationship taken out the proverbial wind in my sails? Was this because I had colluded with someone who was so very similar to me, in both looks and taste? Would it have been any different had I ended up with someone my opposite? Someone vastly different to myself, the sun to my moon, fire to my ice and all of that?
As I stated previously, many take the belief that the Boyfriend Twin is an exercise in self-love in almost a grand and narcissistic masturbatory sense. Should I feel that my relationship is not as viable or of worth in comparison to others who have intentionally set out to be with someone who is starkly and markedly different to themselves?
Sometimes, more in the past than these days, I used to sense some ridicule and scorn, mostly in jest yet always with an edge to it. The question of why I would go out with someone so analogous to myself was a constant theme. There have been many times where it’s been a novelty for others to observe and remark on how similar I am to my boyfriend. To me, however, we have so many differences. Yes, there are times when we might inadvertently wear a similar outfit [Garment choices MUST be organised previous to any social event] but we are in the end two fellows with two minds. As opposed to identical, I think we’re complimentary. It’s a tricky situation, as of course we all want excitement and points of difference in our lives, and relationships are no different. No one would want to be with a clone of themselves forever. Dig deeper below superficialities and things are different. When considering LGBTIQ relationships, the chances are that you will see more and more couples who resemble each other, whether they start out this way or slowly, outwardly begin to ‘coalesce’ into the same person.
Honestly, I find myself extremely lucky that I’ve shared the last six years of my life with someone who would outwardly be considered my ‘twin’, as undesirable and crass as that sounds. Why should I feel guilty or put down by others because they feel any differently? I understand that for some, opposites attract. It’s only logical that they do. For me, my boyfriend and I are two completely different people. In our world, we are two and separate entities entirely. It may not seem so, but we are very diverse characters. He hates Star Trek, which kills me to this day. Something so inconsequential like looks and identity shouldn’t equate into other peoples judgement of my relationship, yet unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world, without perceptions.
Love the one you’re with, regardless of outward looks, I say.