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Deconstructing the "Gay Best Friend"
“I wish I had a gay best friend!”
This phrase is one that pretty much exclusively crosses the glossed lips of naive straight girls. I often hear it in school. Whenever I hear a girl say this, I sort of smirk to myself, and typically respond with, “Lesbian best friends are underrated.”
I imagine the straight girl’s “gay best friend” fantasy consists of some sort of ultra-femme, girly-boy sidekick, snapping his fingers in a z formation and exclaiming “GIRL!” every five seconds. This creature is unparalleled in his fabulousness. His sole purpose in life is to advise the hapless straight girl in her quandaries about fashion. The straight girl can go shopping and dish about boys with this “gay best friend,” and laugh when he makes sassy remarks. What fun!
Straight girls are kind of weird.
I guess I never really understood the infatuation with wanting a gay best friend. That’s probably due to the fact that I see gay people as actual human beings rather than sparkly accessories.
All joking aside, I understand that those who covet gay best friends, while they may be well meaning, are not aware of the implications of their statements.
The assumption that a gay guy will be fun to shop or gossip with is nothing more than a stereotype. Gay people, like everybody, are three-dimensional human beings. Gay people, like everybody, have varied lives, backstories, interests, careers, and passions. To reduce somebody to nothing more than a sick cliché based on one aspect of their life is highly disrespectful. It’s kind of like saying “I wish I had an Asian best friend to help me with my math homework.”
I asked one of my gay guy friends about his interactions with straight girls, looking to get more perspective on this “gay best friend” phenomenon. He reported that about half of the girls he came out to asked him to go shopping with them, even if he barely knew them. I thought this was pretty funny, considering this particular friend of mine hates shopping and wears grungy flannel shirts and jeans every single day. Another friend of mine with a gay brother told me that girls ask her if her brother can be their best friend. This is asinine.
If you only like somebody because of one thing about them, you aren’t seeing the real them. People are complex creatures. You should get to know all of their parts. True friends love each other inside and out.
As I kind of alluded to earlier, my best friend is a lesbian. I don’t refer to her as “my lesbian best friend.” Her being a lesbian isn’t her entire life. Her being a lesbian isn’t the reason that we’re friends. We’re friends because she’s a really cool person, with a multitude of talents and interests that I admire. The point of friendship is making a connection with somebody on a deeper level. The “gay best friend” is such a superficial level of “friendship” that it’s almost cringe-worthy.
Those who desire “gay best friends” unwittingly help to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. This “gay best friend” fantasy is akin to the Chupacabra. So how about we ditch the “gay best friend” label and just strive for a “best friend?” If I’m going to be somebody’s friend, I don’t want to be their white friend. I don’t want to be their female friend. I don’t want to be their nerdy friend. I just want to be plain old friends, and that’s that.