I'm gay, yes. I can also be your friend, maybe even your best friend. And still, I am not and will never be your Gay Best Friend. Over the past week, I've seen two major media outlets here in Belgium share a story on women and their homosexual partner in crime, and I just needed to write some things off my mind. My thoughts on the concept, if you will, my two cents on why I immediately start angry sweating when I hear people using the term ‘Gay Best Friend’.
The term Gay Best Friend is possessive, objectifying and completely based on stereotypes and prejudice. Why? Let me break it down. Firstly, it's possessive and objectifying, because by using it, it feels like you are claiming us, as if we are yours to use and abuse when you need/want it. A healthy friendship is about balance and equality, and using derogatory terms like 'Gay Best Friend' is not the way to go. We are not an object, not an accessory, not something to proudly show off to your other friends. Please, treat us like humans, not like some kind of exotic animal in the zoo.
Secondly, I hate to break your bubble, but if you think you're openminded and not prejudiced but you don't see anything wrong with using 'Gay Best Friend', you're just not that openminded. Sorry 'bout it. Gay Best Friends always like shopping, they like drama, they're clumsy, funny and a little mean. Guess what? Those are all things that are stereotypically connected to being gay. As if we get a Gay Starter Kit when we come out, including a love for tiny dogs, an entire catalogue of every fashion trend ever and the lyrics to Madonna's complete oeuvre. Of course there are guys and girls who love all of those things, and who maybe even have all the characteristics I named. And that's totally okay, of course, but my point is that those things aren't and shouldn't be linked to a sexuality. Generalisations are dangerous and hurtful, always. If you think about it, how ridiculous is it to expect someone to be a certain way just because he or she accidently likes men or women? That's like saying all people who like broccoli also love to play squash in their free time. Imagine: "What, you don't love squash? But... didn’t you like broccoli?" Yeah. You get the point.
No longer a person, only a character
Let's have a little story time. Once upon a... woops, this is no fairy tale. Time for real talk. When I was young teenage boy, about sevenish years ago, I came out of the closet. I was thirteen and felt ready so I collected all the courage I had and told my friends first. All went well, or well, almost.
In hindsight I could have seen it coming. When I told her, her eyes widened, her lips formed an almost ecstatic smile, she grasped for air. One, two, thrOMG, YOU CAN BE MY GAY BEST FRIEND NOW! At the time, I laughed it off in the moment, just relieved I got my secret out. It wasn't until later that I realized how toxic her reaction actually was.
In a matter of seconds, three words - I am gay - I was no longer Joppe, her friend, I was Gay, her friend. No longer a real person but some kind of character, designed to please her. Sounds dramatic, I know, but think about it. She immediately reduced me to my sexuality, and nothing more. I was gay, which for her meant that she could do everything all gay guys stereotypically like to do with me. You know what? I like shopping, but quite often not for others. I don't like gossiping at all. Not my style. Granted, I can be
a little dramatic
from time to time, but I've got enough drama in me to fill that gap on my own,
thank you very much.
Yes, our sexuality is a part of who we are, but it isn't everything. Sure, it defines some parts of our lives, but so does the fact that I don't like sports, or how I love to sing until my voice is gone. We are more than our sexuality, we are more than your friend, your accessory. We're just us, like you are you. And please, let's be friends, best friends even. But I am not and will never be your Gay Best Friend.