As an avid reader of Sherlock Holmes stories in my youth, I’m looking forward to this Christmas’ release of the new movie Sherlock Holmes. The star of that film kicked up a bit of controversy recently, when Robert Downey Jr. puckishly described Holmes and Watson as a couple of guys who live together, sleep in the same bed, and wrestle. This prompted right-wing dinosaur film critic Michael Medved to come down on the idea, asking, “Who wants to see Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law make out?” Um, I can think of a few people, and they’re not all gay men, either.

Downey Jr. is far from the first person to see sexual tension between Holmes and Watson. As written in Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, Sherlock Holmes apparently never has sex at all, and Watson has a wife who’s mentioned a few times (and even makes a few appearances) but is pretty much invisible. Basically, their relationship with each other is the biggest emotional connection in either man’s life. They’re like an old married couple in many ways, and we all know straight dudes who relate to each other like that. I’d use some permutation of the word “bromance,” but I’m allergic to the newly coined word. It’ll be interesting to see how the new movie fits in with other recent films about non-gay life partners.

By the way, the title of my post refers to a homosexuality-disavowing term that’s been going around in hip-hop circles. An interesting article went up on Slate yesterday about how the use of that term is a little more complicated than it seems on the surface.