All right, ladies, listen up. I need to get something off my chest. I’ve noticed something that’s bothered me recently, and I need to explain to y’all why exactly it makes me uncomfortable. I think I’m speaking for the majority of the gays when I talk about it, and it goes along the lines of this: I am not your gay best friend.
Coming to Miami introduced me to a lot of new things socially, namely going out the bars with friends. And when you are mostly friends with upperclassmen like I am, you tend to find yourself standing around while they hug someone they know (and you don’t) when they see them at the bar. I’m cool with this though seeing as I’m generally the type who just observes everyone else at the bar while I’m trying to choke down my vodka-soda (I hate liquor).
What I’m not cool with, however, is how I’m introduced to these friends of friends. Most of my friends are girls, and when they hug on a guy – who’s usually interested in them (cause my friends are pretty smokin’) – there’s generally the follow up, in reference to me, whispered in her ear: “Who’s this?”
To which they respond: “Oh that’s just my gay friend.” Or other variations include, “That’s my gay cousin,” or the blatant, “Don’t worry, he’s gay.”
Ladies, if you have a friend – who happens to be gay – don’t do this. I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. No matter how harmless you think it is, it’s really really (REALLY) offensive.
Doing this bothers me in more ways than one.
It automatically outs me without my permission. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem telling someone that I’d take a disco stick over a hot pocket any day, but you’re sacrificing a part of my identity that only I should be in control of making vulnerable.
Also, it makes me a single-labeled individual. Being gay isn’t the only redeeming part of my character – it doesn’t even make it to the top of the list in my book.
In comparison, this is like if I was to introduce you to one of my friends and started off by saying “This is my friend, Sara. She sure knows how to show a guy a good time.” It’s sharing really personal information – information that I might not be comfortable making known with that person. If you know me, you’d agree that I’m actually someone who’s a lot more than the token gay best friend. If you’re gonna slap a label on my forehead at least make it something like “This is my friend, and he speaks French,” or even “This is Chase, and he’s got a weird toe.”
And half the time you girls out there don’t even actually introduce us to these people. You use our sexuality as an excuse and then continue on with your conversation as if you were putting your phone on vibrate when it goes off in class. Saying “This is my friend, Chase,” and letting me shake their hand is the least you can do to recognize me as a human being, and it will likely suffice as a way to show that you and I aren’t a thing. Typically I’ll take the hint that you want to talk to this guy and I’ll shortly go off in the search of free pretzels at Chanks.
Introducing me as your gay friend actually serves as a reminder of my exclusion from a majority on campus. It’s hard enough being surrounded by mostly straight people dancing on each other and going home together. I don’t need to be reminded two or three times a night that I’ll probably walk home alone and that my chances of finding a boyfriend are very slim in comparison to yours.
I get that you probably don’t realize this bothers us when you do it, and you introduce us as your gay friend with all the love that you can put into it. But it still doesn’t mean that it’s right. So next time some guy is worried that you and I are together and asks who I am, all you gotta say is “This is my really good friend, Chase. Chase, this is Alex.” See how easy that is? You should be thankful that we trust you enough to share with you something that’s very personal to us. We love you, and we value you as our very best friends (not our very straight best friends).
Sincerely, your very gay best friend.