Esquire has an interesting theory about the success of Twilight, HBO’s True Blood, and The CW’s Vampire Diaries: “Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men,” Stephen Marche writes. “Not all young straight women, of course, but many, if not most, of them.” Among his support statements, the following analysis of Twilight’s Edward: “[He’s] a sweet, screwed-up high school kid, and at the beginning of his relationship with Bella, she is attracted to him because he is strange, beautiful, and seemingly repulsed by her. This exact scenario happened several times in my high school between straight girls and gay guys who either hadn’t figured out they were gay or were still in the closet.” Had Marche wanted to, he also could’ve pointed out that on True Blood, telepathic Sookie can only be intimate with a man (Vampire Bill) whose lustful thoughts she cannot hear, and on Vampire Diaries, Elena knows that Stefan has been hiding who he truly is, that he’d sworn off women for quite a while, and that he cooks and journals. (Marche could also have mentioned that True Blood’s Eric gets his hair highlighted and enjoys solo candlelight baths, for that matter.)
When I first read the essay, I wanted to flat-out shoot it down. But then I remembered that I’m someone who’s said “I’d like a man who’s just to the left of gay” and “I know I’m really into a guy when I fantasize about watching Golden Girls with him.” (It’s a turn on to watch him appreciate vocal, funny women and their friends.) So maybe I can’t call total bulls—. What do you think? Are, as Marche suggests, young straight women attracted to vampires because they’re dangerous — see: their ability to kill through draining or incredible sex — yet safe? They are, after all, at first unattainable and then ultimately fictional; we can mute their desires (Bill) or hinder their powers of seduction with an herb (Vampire Diaries’ Damon) or code of conduct (Eric). Does the fact that we constrain them — and have a preference for sensitive souls (Edward, Stefan, Bill) or bad boys with a heart that only one woman can touch (Damon and Eric) — turn them metaphorically gay?