Rock star Alice Cooper said of the song, "You have Pete's sexual ambiguity going on here - it sounds like a gay song. I still don't know exactly what he was trying to say with that song, but I love it, whatever it is. Pete's an amazing mystery."
During a 1989 interview with Timothy White, Townshend made reference to the song "Rough Boys", calling the song a, "coming out, an acknowledgment of the fact that I'd had a gay life, and that I understood what gay sex was about. I know how it feels to be a woman because I am a woman." Five years later, in an interview withPlayboy, he said, "I did an interview about it, saying that "Rough Boys" was about being gay, and in the interview I also talked about my "gay life," which—I meant—was actually about the friends I've had who are gay. So the interviewer kind of dotted the t's and crossed the i's and assumed that this was a coming out, which it wasn't at all."