“So, you’re fucking yourself,” my friends announced playfully, to my cringing dismay.
My phone was making the post-dinner rounds and the New Man Approval Committee was hard at work, my most observant gay friends combing a selection of Insta pics featuring the suitor in question, Trevor. They’d look down at a photo, then back at me. As they cracked up, I could feel their critique coming, but I wasn’t prepared to feel as embarrassed by it as I was. Boyfriend twins! Doppelbangers! Or so they suggested.
Amused, they pointed to my former mustache, then to the one he currently has. Our similar gym-worked builds were not lost on them either; neither were our round, clear-framed specs. Later, one friend saw a snap of Trevor on a cruise ship in a pose like one he’d seen me in before, texted me, and joked that he thought I’d gone on vacation. Not seeing what they were seeing (at first), I was genuinely spooked that I was signing up for a lifetime of people thinking I liked to fuck myself. (Which, as a thing to do, sounds fantastically convenient, but as a thing to seriously think and want? My friends, my therapist, and Dave Franco would have strong opinions about that.)
A fear I didn’t even know I’d be facing led me to consult Google. My precise search terms—“What does it mean when you date someone who looks like you?” and “Am I a narcissist?”—would surely tell me how to feel about this. I already knew I had to actively do everything in my power to set myself apart from Trevor, which meant it was definitely over for my mustache. Obviously, I’d get new glasses, too. Then I revisited the popular and wildly controversial BOYFRIENDTWIN Tumblr that first shook both gay and straight Twitter in 2014. This did not help: Was I one of them? And was that even a bad thing?
I stopped Googling and asked Dr. Harel Papikian, desperately inquiring about my magic man-mirror, what it meant, and whether I and we who court same-sex samesies are subconsciously or consciously narcissistic. Papikian, a psychologist who treats same-sex clients at his West Hollywood practice, says such practice is not all that unusual and—to my relief—not narcissism. Mostly it’s just the inevitably of desiring another dick.
“Same-sex attraction by definition means that we desire the body of our own sex,” Papikian says. “Unlike straight couples, we can actually try and mold our own body, our appearance, and style to fit what we consider to be hot, sexy, and attractive. Boyfriend twins can be simply the result of our unique opportunity as gay men to mold ourselves in the image of our desire.”
Orlando-based Disney dads Steve Smith and Ben Gaetanos are spitting images of each other, their co-workers say. People even think their child looks like both of them. Their child is adopted. “People see what they wanna see,” Smith says.
In terms of the couple’s similar physical appearances, sure, they both have full, brownish, close-to-the-face beards; slender builds (though Steve, at 5 feet 4, is a few inches shorter than Ben); and their hair, also brown, is styled in a classic college cut. They’ve been called brothers before, and there was that time at Publix when a stranger called them twins, which Smith says is a real stretch. Considering their meet-cute—auditioning to play the same character for a Disneyland gig—it can read like the two former Evan Hansens who now date each other, which, sorry, brings new meaning to “You Will Be Found.” But Smith and Gaetanos actually bonded over a shared love of theater, not a mutual yearning to Netflix and chill with their doppelbanger.