I probably shouldn't stir the shit, but what the hell.
Somebody asked me again what I thought about K/S fans -- the idea that Kirk and Spock are gay lovers. (Most K/S fans are women.)
I said, "Star Trek is about reaching for the stars, not your vibrator."
That's the short version.
No, I do not hate K/S fans. Honest. The way it was explained to me by Roddenberry, Shatner, and Nimoy, there is a deep and profound relationship between Kirk and Spock. It isn't sexual.
And that's the real issue here -- the misunderstanding of the nature of "bromance."
Guys like to have buddies. Having a buddy (or in England or Australia or Ireland, a "mate") isn't about sexual tension. It's about emotional connection.
The way our culture is structured, most men are lousy at emotional connections. (Women, this is why you're having trouble in your marriage -- you're demanding something that your husband doesn't know how to create.) In fact, most of the personal effectiveness trainings are based on the idea that most human beings have no idea how to create a healthy wholesome creative joyous relatonship with anyone.
There's a book by a woman who lived as a man for a year and concluded that it's harder to be a man in our society than a woman because of the emotional restrictions we place on boys almost from birth. "Big boys don't cry." "Don't be a sissy." "Man up." And the emphasis on macho-heroes in movies and sports. (Gay men have one small advantage in that when they step outside the boundaries, they have the opportunity to step outside the emotional boundaries too. But the disadvantage there is that too many of them have to go through a teenage-girl phase for a while.)
Anyway, the point is that with all the rules about how to be a "man" -- a lot of unconscious training goes on. And (yes, I'm generalizing) it's easier for a man to feel that another man understands him than a woman. It's not that he doesn't love his wife, it's that there are levels of communication between men the same way there are levels of communication between women.
The relatonship between Kirk and Spock is even more tricky. Spock is an alien/half-human/hybrid who is torn between two cultures and belongs fully in neither. He has to be curious about who Kirk is and why he thinks that way. Vice versa, Kirk has to be intrigued by the nature of Spock's detachment from emotions -- because Kirk is very much an emotional creature. Right there, there's enough relationship stuff going on that you can base a very strong bromance on it. Beyond that, there's a loyalty to the ship, to the mission, to the very heart of discovery itself -- but also to the ideal of "seeking out new life and new civilizations" and making friends with them.
Speaking for myself, I think that K/S is a kind of soft-core porn. It's the female equivalent of heterosexual male interest in lesbian porn. And a lot of the customers for male-male erotica are women. There's a whole genre of male-male erotica written by women and self-published on Amazon. The emphasis in those stories is usually the emotional relationship between the two men.
And ultimately, I think this is my discomfort with K/S. It's the same discomfort a lesbian would feel about a male author writing a lesbian fantasy. The male author is not writing from personal experience. He's projecting what he thinks it's like. (If he's really really really good, he might have done a lot of research and might maybe possibly could evoke an honest relationship -- but he's still not a woman.) Conversely, some of the gay men I know who have dipped into K/S stories (almost all of which have been written by women) have come away puzzled because the relationship as it's portrayed is distinctly un-male. It's female emotions projected onto male characters.
In fact, there's a tale of a young gay trek-fan who wrote a K/S story and had it rejected by the two most aggressive women behind the phenomenon. They said he didn't understand male homosexuality. (Despite being a male homosexual.) I admit to being put off by that kind of patronizing arrogance, that claim of ownership over someone else's sexual identity.
I met those two women once. One of them began her conversation with, "What you Star Trek writers don't understand--" Oh, really? I was trained by Gene L. Coon and D.C. Fontana. "--is that Kirk secretly wants to be raped by Spock." I gnawed off a leg and escaped. So that might be part of my skepticism. The sentence, "What you Star Trek writers don't understand--" coming from a self-appointed expert who'd never been closer than 3000 miles to the actual creation of the show.
The K/S phenomenon has apparently ebbed from its gory glory days of the 70s and 80s. A new generation of fans are mostly finding their interests elsewhere. (I'm not seeing much K/S activity at Trek-conventions, so it's either faded or gone underground or exists in some corner of the internet that I haven't seen.) But now that people can self-publish their soft-core erotica on Amazon and actually earn some bucks for it, there's an incentive for authors to create their own characters and their own worlds. And in fact, that's been one of the things I've always encouraged fan authors to do. Invent your own universe, invent your own characters, create your own worlds, and be an author in your own write, not in someone else's.
I've read a few of the self-published gay stories on Amazon. Several have been very good. Several have been ... not so good. But to come back to my original topic, it is possible for two men to have a very intense and profound relationship without sexual tension being a part of it. And while it might be fun for fans to imagine this coupling or that one -- in the actual "canonical" domain of the show, such an event would mortally change the dynamic of the entire series, pulling it so off-purpose that it would never again be the same universe.