tbh the main problem i have with johnnyboy is so many people see a really close affectionate male friendship and theyre immediately like GAY!!!! LOOK HOW GAY!!!!!! (coincidentally its usually straight girls coughs)
like with jally theres actual context to their feelings for each other and relationship, for example dally being hyper masculine all the time and going out of his way to flirt with girls, especially while johnny is around. this isnt uncommon for closeted gay men. johnny is a sheltered 16 year old who has never been out of his neighborhood so he registers his feelings for dally as hero worship and just really really liking the guy. dallas has been more places and seen more things over the course of his life therefore is closer to realizing how he really feels, and he does whatever he can to suppress it. johnny doesnt even consider being gay as a possibility. it probably never crossed his mind.
with johnnyboy, there is none of that. theres no “symptoms” of being in the closet like there is with jally. yes, johnny and ponyboy are a lot more obviously caring and tender towards each other, but really that just drives home how platonic their relationship is. theres no underlying fear or identity confusion so they are as affectionate as they want.
just… please let boys have affectionate relationships without turning it into something romantic.