I do not take credit for this theory in its entirety; amongst others, Roger Avery and the irrepressible directorial god (with a little g) that is Quentin Tarantino can be attributed with the origins of this premise. What I hope to do is expound upon the original premise, and publicise it. Thank you.
What is Top Gun about? To the average viewer, Top Gun is merely an entertaining film detailing the life of a bunch of Yankee fighter pilots, bought to you by the ultra-testosterone fuelled big boy wannabe action hero production team of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. Jerry Bruckheimer went on to produce films such as Dangerous Minds and Con Air after Don Simpson died, allegedly of natural causes - however, not before spending a million dollars on cocaine, heroine, prostitutes and plastic surgery. But anyway. Despite the gung-ho machismo of films the pair produced throughout the 80's and 90's, including Days of Thunder, Beverly Hills Cop I & II, and The Rock, Top Gun stands alone as the most successful, as well as the most homo-erotic. Arguably, the homo-eroticism is unintentional, but nonetheless it is there.
There are certain basic premises on needs to grasp in order to understand the 'Top Gun is Gay' theorem. Firstly, the basis of the film is that Maverick (Tom Cruise) is struggling to understand his sexuality. Maverick is right on the homo/hetero line and doesn't know which way to turn. This is where the supporting characters enter, their function in their film being to battle for the sexuality of Maverick (see Characters below)
A further premise to keep in mind is the symbolism contained within the actual act of flying fighter planes. We are presented throughout the film with the idea of partners - every pilot has a wingman with whom they can share the flight experience, a physically and mentally draining experience, comparable with sexual intercourse. Of course, this supports the notion of a homoerotic subtext.
Characters & Their Relationships to Maverick
The most important aspect to remember about Iceman's character is that he is the unofficial leader of the pilots at the Top Gun Academy - he is the best, and eventually wins the title of Top Gun ahead of Maverick. What Iceman represents however, is homosexuality, as do the other pilots at Top Gun. He is trying to entice Maverick over to homosexuality throughout. His general iconography and appearance smack of gayness, from the bleach blonde highlights and hair gel, to the macho-man walk and hand-on-hip stances he adopts at numerous points during the film.
Val Kilmer plays Maverick's nemesis - the pair are constantly confronting one another, in the air and on the ground. However, the sparring seems to stem from a distinct sexual tension. Both Maverick and Iceman came to the Top Gun Academy with reputations as the best of the best - Iceman is literally like Ice; cold, frozen, knows and follows all the rules. Maverick also lives up to his name - like Ice he knows the rules.... just so he can break them.
However, the underlying reasons for their disputes stems not from their opposing flight styles, but from the fact that Maverick is a genuine threat to Iceman's dominance. Watch the film - Maverick is constantly seen as the cocky outsider, ready with the sarcastic swipes and witticisms, most notably in the first briefing session with Kelly McGillis' character, Charlie. Maverick tells the story of the encounter with the Russian MIGs, and the pilots laugh along with him - Iceman does not laugh; his leadership and superiority are being threatened. The strict rules he follows - those of flying and of homosexuality - do not allow him to weaken in the face of this pseudo-heterosexual, probably because of the hardship he has faced as a homosexual in a heterosexual world.
Unwittingly, Maverick has joined the homosexuals, he is part of the fighter pilots gay group. He dresses the same as them, he sits with them, he flies, eats, drinks, and sleeps with them. But due to his confusion over his sexuality, Maverick is unaware of the informal gay hierarchy headed by Iceman. The heterosexual nature of Maverick, it is what he has lived as so far in his life, is interfering with the gay pilot hegemony, an unwelcome and unsettling influence on the newly gay pilots who have entered the academy, something which causes friction between Ice and Mav.
Kelly McGillis' Charlie is the antithesis of Kilmer's Iceman. She is classically beautiful, blonde hair, blue eyes, etc, the archetypal object of desire for any red-blooded male. However, due once again to Maverick's confusion over his sexuality, he also clashes with her as he does with Ice. Without the guiding rules or either homosexuality or heterosexuality, Maverick is left in a limbo state - not knowing how to act with Charlie or Iceman. (Note also the sexually ambiguous name, which further confuses the issue of sexuality).
Charlie provides Maverick with a heterosexual goal - the scene where he sings 'You've Lost That Loving Feeling' in the bar highlights this; Maverick seems to genuinely want to be straight, but the setting of the scene - Maverick facing Charlie who is alone, behind him stand the Top Gun flight crew - displays literally how he is caught between being gay and straight.
The pivotal point in the movie however, is where Mav seems to succumb to the lure of heterosexuality - Maverick goes to Charlie's house, where it appears that they are going to have sex. They talk for a long time, and there is a slow build up of sexual tension. Maverick showers, but inexplicably rides away on his motorbike. (Interestingly, the motorbike is an integral part of Maverick, used as a phallic symbol to connote his manliness, and also of power residing within the individual, he is alone when he rides the bike). Charlie watches him leave and ride away from the bedroom window, with a facial expression made up of confusion, anger and contemplation.
The next scene Mav is back at Top Gun the morning after, he waits for an elevator. The door opens, and Charlie is there, dressed as one of the pilots - she is wearing the aviator sunglasses, the flight suit, the jacket, all that the gay Ice-men wear. The idea? To win back Maverick from the gay side; by dressing and acting like a pilot, she hopes to simultaneously appeal to the side of Mav that makes him find the fly-boys so attractive, whilst also reminding him that she as a heterosexual woman can provide an equal amount of, if not more, sexual gratification, and the promise of returning to 'normality' and heterosexuality. However, Maverick is not fooled by this subterfuge.
Goose is Maverick's best friend and his 'wingman', from the beginning of the film. Note the camp moustache, and also the hand on hip pose and haircut that are almost identical to the gay traits of Iceman. The 'wingman' is the copilot - someone whom the pilot must trust implicitly, and vice versa. Immediately this indicates a strong bond between the two. The idea of the relationship between pilot and wingman is representative of a human relationship, the two become one in a plane, as two become one in marriage or a serious loving relationship. Everyone at Top Gun has a wingman, and so all have a partner with which they share the flight experience.
Unfortunately, Goose gets killed when he and maverick are involved in a training accident. Maverick, as pilot, blames himself wholly, which nearly costs him his career as a Top Gun pilot, as the cocksure and confident Mav we saw in abundance at the beginning of the film is undermined. We also see Mav at his most emotional as he grieves for Goose in a totally defenceless and cathartic manner. Although I am not saying this form of emotional display in itself is indicative of homosexuality, within the context of a film that is intrinsically interwoven with male bravado and machismo, such emotion is so out of place. Therefore, I believe that unconsciously, it shows a deep emotional and spiritual bond between Goose and Mav, something that ventures beyond love on a purely plutonic level.
The name 'Goose' also has sexual connotations, i.e. the slang term 'to goose' someone.
Alongside the character specifics and, there are numerous aspects of Top Gun that support the homoerotic subtext theory. Firstly, a selection of actual lines form the film, all of which can be interpreted in some sexual sense:
Hey man we could of had him! Hey we could of had him man!
I was invaded!
Move your ass get up here! I'm engaged!
Woods been hit! Woods been hit, shit, Woods been hit!
Ok Wood I'm taking the lead
You up for this one Maverick?
No, no, no - there's two O's in Goose boys!
Okay Mav, lets turn and burn!
We're in his Jet Wash!
He's going vertical, then so am I!
Get your butts above the hard deck.
I'm not going to sit here and blow sunshine up your ass.
Bullshit ten minutes! This thing will be over in two minutes - get on it!
Hard deck my ass, we nailed that son of a bitch!
Splash that sucker, yeah!
'Goose whose butt did you kiss to get in here?'... 'The list is long but distinguished'
"You can be my wingman anytime".... "Bullshit, you can be mine"
I want somebody's butt, I want it now, I've had it!
And the killer line:
God it that's twice, I want some BUTTS!!!