The term lesbro was coined by Honey Harris, a DJ for Santa Fe's KBAC, to characterize women like Dina ("I used it to describe lesbians like myself who like to hang out with guys but sleep with women," Harris says), but these days, as men are heading to formerly lesbian-only establishments in places like Park Slope, in Brooklyn, and the Castro, the emphasis is on the bro, not the lez. Of course, there have always been lesbros (the literary-minded might trace this trend back to Ernest Hemingway, who would bro down with Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in 1920s Paris). But it's hardly coincidental that the archetype has emerged from the shadows during a period when lesbianism has an unprecedented hold on pop culture—think of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga, The L Word and Vicky Cristina Barcelona; think of the cool lesbian icons, like Rachel Maddow, who don't sensationalize their sexuality at all. When the romance between Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson hit tabloids in 2008, the men of America passed through supermarket express lanes thinking "Fuck, I wish my friends partied as hard as these lesbians." And while attraction may lurk beneath the surface of some men's gay-friendly attitudes, for the lesbro, getting off—at least with his lesbian pals—isn't the point. "I love hanging out with my lesbian friends and taking in their beauty, knowing that there is nothing sexual at stake," says Abe Schoener, a California winemaker. But, he adds, it's not another boys' night out: "Hanging out with my lesbian friends is nothing like hanging out with straight guy friends." As Brynn Gelbard, a San Francisco lesbian filmmaker and producer of the movie Lezbro: Don't Cha Know, puts it, "There is just this really amazing bond between men and lesbians. That absence of sexual tension allows you to talk openly."
Increasingly, the average guy seems to grasp that lesbianism means more than just Andrea Dworkin on one extreme and hotlesbiansexxx.com on the other. One small step for gay women, one giant leap for mankind.
But progress has its pitfalls, and there can be cause for resentment: Are the lesbians genuine friends or just the latest accessory? "Everyone wants to be a rebel. When you walk down the street with someone who's obviously gay, that becomes a badge that says you're accepting," Gelbard says. And among true lesbros lurk "turners"—guys who are endlessly Chasing Amy, convinced that a lesbian is gay because she hasn't met the right man. "For a straight guy, there's probably some disavowed sexual excitement," says Leigh Claire La Berge, an assistant professor of gender studies at the University of Chicago. "He knows perfectly well sex would never happen, but still . . . "
On closer inspection, most lesbros might simply be early adopters, forward thinkers whose search for friendship—hell, fraternity—transcends differences in orientation and gender. "I do have a lot of lesbian friends," Levitan says, "but maybe this is how everybody would behave in some sort of post-gay Utopia."