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meaning of "bromance": culture-specific?

So yesterday on my break, an African-American co-worker asked my opinion on something. She asked what I thought "bromance" meant.

I told her as far as I knew it was from reviews of the first Hangover movie, and it means 'male besties.' (I later found out I am wrong; it actually dates back to the 1990s, according to Wikipedia.) I also said it has been applied to things like Brokeback Mountain (I had read that in more than a few articles about BBM, though I felt that was an incorrect usage; the point of "bromance" is that it's nonsexual).

She explained that her 12th grade son's teacher described him, in front of his entire class, as being in a 'bromance' with his best friend. This led to all his classmates teasing him relentlessly about being gay ('you know, in our culture, that's not acceptable,' she told me), until one kid took it too far, which culminated in a fistfight with her son.

The fistfight unfortunately occurred at a time when some inspection of the school was happening, and the inspectors observed it, which reflected badly on the school. Now the school wants to suspend and possibly expel him.

She mentioned her son is on the honor roll and she thinks this is really unfair, given that it was the teacher's comment that started the whole thing. He is getting harassed on social media too, she added. She said she tried talking to the principal, who blew her off, saying her son shouldn't have taken it the way he did (and didn't address the fact that the other kids also took it that way. The principal said two of the male teachers in the school have also been described as in a "bromance" and didn't take offense. She asked me what I thought, what she could do.

I asked her [which was my immediate first guess]: Was it a white teacher who said it?
She said, Yes.

I said, Well, that would explain why this all happened. Try to explain to them that it means a different thing in white culture than in black culture, and due to the cultural differences, this teacher's statement had a negative social impact for your son, to the point that he is being teased and harassed constantly about it. And it sounds like the school is retaliating for your son's fight happening at the same time as the inspection, making the school look bad. If it had not happened at that time, would they be this harsh? She said she didn't know, but she though not.

I said I know teens take stuff to heart and are really sensitive, and combined with the cultural difference in the meaning, it's clear all his classmates took it the same way he did, which she should bring to the attention of the people she has to talk to. In other words, it's NOT just her son who interpreted "bromance"="gay", but his peers do, too.

We both lamented how stubborn and sensitive teens are, and she worried out loud that this would derail the progress he's made (it's only his 2nd year at this school - they moved into district last year).

She said she would try using the cultural difference angle in her last resort to try to avoid her son getting suspended or expelled: talking to a board member.

I personally think it was kind of inappropriate for the teacher to use the term "bromance" anyway because of the possible connotations it could have, in any culture. However, I'm sure she didn't mean it in a negative way. But it's not just what you say but how it comes across, and maybe it was culturally insensitive of the teacher, though I have to say, I was unaware that African-Americans interpret "bromance" to mean "gay" until this conversation. But I can see why people from any culture might perceive it that way -- it's got the word "romance" in it.

I'm fully aware if you said it to most white adult males they would likely not be bothered. However, I wonder if teenaged white boys would feel differently and interpret it as "gay," too.

Adolescence is such a terrible time of caring so much what other people think of you, first and foremost your peers.

But I'm wondering what other people think. Does "bromance" have a culture-bound meaning/interpretation? or an age-related meaning/interpretation?

What do you think?

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