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The Independent Culture
There really ought to be a sub-genre of the male prison movie called "Gay Bars".

You know what I mean: when the hero finds himself in the communal showers for the first time and daren't bend over to pick up the soap because some bull queer is giving him the glad eye. The soundtrack goes wild and, invariably, eventually, so does our leading man. See The Shawshank Redemption, in which Tim Robbins (above, centre) endures three years of beatings rather than be any guy's "gunsel". Or try An Innocent Man: peaceable Tom Selleck is driven to murder by the thought of being anally taken. In Lock Up Sly Stallone is as jumpy as a virgin at an orgy when a fellow prisoner expresses sexual interest. And they're the lucky ones: Timothy Bottoms is gang-raped in Wheels, ditto the new boy in Scum, and there's hanky panky aplenty in Fortune and Men's Eyes, only it's the nominally heterosexual men who pursue the younger, prettier jailbirds and no one questions their "masculinity'' for it.

Which is to point out that despite the implied disavowal - Shawshank, Innocent and Lock Up compulsively raise the issue of will they/won't they? merely to banish it - there's as much attraction as repulsion here. Desire and denial merge. It's prison after all: so many men, so much time.

Would audiences really think less of the guys if they had a friendly fling with a cell mate? Who knows? Maybe it's all a matter of approach. Imagine if Robbins, Selleck and Stallone had been asked to be tops rather than bottoms.... hell, it's natural for a star to be on top, isn't it?

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