How does a straight guy write two men in love? (Spoiler alert: he doesn't.)
In TSoT I saw something remarkable that I’ve almost never seen in mainstream drama: men in love, open and comfortable with something that felt more than friendship, but didn’t need a name other than “love best in the world.” John’s hand on Sherlock’s knee represents the end of the no-homo, the erasure of the homophobic prohibition. The episode undoes some misogyny, too, because Mary as an active agent is essential to their ability to use the word: “The two people I love best in the world,” John says. “The two people who love you best in the world,” says Sherlock. Mary’s not so much between them as beside them, keeping them safe to say love.
But then Steven Moffat came along, and the tender drunken touch and the explicit vows of love were replaced by a cool formal handshake and a joke.
(Note: I’m not Moffat-bashing here. I believe he’s a perfectly fine fellow, all things considered. But he’s a product of his age, sex, and gender, and some elements of this episode, which he wrote alone, speak to his position as a het man in a het-centric culture. He didn’t think to himself, “Damn, we need some homophobia and misogyny up in this bitch.” But he did want to write the Boy’s Own Story of a clever man and his buddy, and that story calls for the social arrangement that feels natural and right to a man with het privilege.)