In one of my first blogs, I discussed the ways in which we objectify men, often for the pleasure of straight women and to hold a certain type of masculinity on a pedestal. Now let’s talk about the objectification of gay men by straight women.
Recently I was headed out with a friend of mine and a girl we had met that day. The girl and us had a mutual friend, so I asked how they knew each other in order to spur conversation. She said they were from the same town before college, but what followed put me in a very sour mood.
Yeah, he’s my gay.
Um… what? Did I hear that right? He’s your gay? Your gay. Are you his “straight?” Because I’m confused.
Some suggest that straight women and gay men are natural allies, and both benefit extraordinarily from a relationship with each other. But we’ve all heard a straight woman, at some point in her life, say that she wants a “gay best friend.” Looking at the stereotypes of gay men, it seems like we’d all want a friend like that. First of all they’re a man, and men totally make the best friends, right? But they still act like enough of a woman that you can relate to them. And they love shopping and can always give you fashion tips. And they’ll go to a Lady Gaga concert with you. And you can be as sexual as you want around them, because they’re gay, and gay men are promiscuous. So no judgment.
First of all, the pursuit of the ability to say, “I don’t like girls, all my friends are men, I’m drama-free!” is ridiculous and that needs to stop in itself. The next stereotype, which infuriates me, perpetuates the idea that gay men aren’t really men. We see it all the time. Cam and Mitchell of Modern Family even address the topic in one episode. Oh, you’re gay men in an exclusive relationship. Which of you is the man and which is the woman? Watch out, spoiler alert: both of them are.
Stereotypes hurt, and straight women should be making all attempts to halt their stereotyping of gay men, and halt their desperate search for a gay best friend. Wouldn’t it be nice if you picked your friends based on, you know, your compatibility instead of the status indicator of having a “gay best friend?”
Of course, oftentimes straight women don’t think about this. A gay best friend is ideal for a straight woman because it gives them insight into a man’s brain, it allows them to talk about sexual topics with a man without fear of tension or misunderstanding. Gay men often are able to understand women in ways that straight men may not. A friendship between a straight woman and a gay man can be a very healthy and successful one.
My advice to my fellow straight women is to not search so hard for a gay best friend. It’s demeaning and hurtful, reducing the man to his sexuality and to the stereotypes that he has most likely worked very hard to refute. Gay men are not an object to give you reassurance or status, just like you are not an object to give straight men sexual pleasure. Meet new people organically instead of trying to outdrink every man at the gay bar and asking them for advice on your outfit. Friendships should be based on equality and mutual respect, not on striving to make real some twisted teenage fantasy.