‘Gay best friend’ stereotype fueled by female ignorance

Assistant Opinions Editor | Journalism Sophomore

Straight females who are friends with gay males should be careful not to treat them as trendy accessories rather than human beings.

Many women think gay men make the best friends. The perception is that gay men have great style, enjoy shopping and dancing and can be impartial confidants who can remain uninfluenced by romantic aspirations. Unfortunately, this stereotype often leads to problematic interactions between straight females and their gay guy friends.

The media is partly responsible for the misguided idea that the truest level of fabulousity is achieved only by having a “Gay Best Friend” or GBF attached at the hip. There is a long string of popular movies and shows that showcase such relationships between straight women and gay men—“Mean Girls,” “Sex & the City” and “Will and Grace” are just a few of the many offenders. The Internet is full of rhetoric supporting GBF relationships. For instance, a quick Google search on “why every woman needs a gay best friend” yields more than 162,000 results.

There is even a movie entitled simply “G.B.F.” that premiered April 2013. The movie’s plot illustrates perfectly how some women treat gay males more like accessories than people. In the movie, three high school queen-bees compete to make the recently outed gay guy their best friend. Instead of befriending him because of his personality, the girls in the movie try to win him over purely because having a GBF is seen as glamorous.

The GBF trend is disturbing. As happens with other minority stereotypes, the GBF perception strips the humanity from gay males and reduces them to overly simplified caricatures. A gay friend should be treated with the respect and common courtesy afforded to any other companion.

Furthermore, it is an issue when straight females flood and overtake gay clubs. Some poor, misguided souls even attempt to pick up guys at these bars. For straight females, the allure of a place full of cute men who can actually dance and will not creep on them may be hard to resist. However, this defeats the purpose of gay bars. I am not saying straight people cannot go to gay bars or vice versa, but straight ladies need to understand not every space is catered to them. In general, the gay community does not have as many public spaces they can claim as their own, and it is important they be respected by the straight community.

The idea of gay best friends does not come from a malicious place. The stereotype and glamorization of gay men is fueled more by ignorance and misunderstanding than anything else. For some reason, people do not seem to understand even more “positive” stereotypes such as those placed on gay men by straight females are harmful and not okay. The misconception that all gay men are sassy, well-dressed dance machines is harmful. Stereotypes always beget more stereotypes—characterizing all gay men in a certain way will only lead to more misunderstanding. In order to move forward, women need to realize that all gay men are independent, unique individuals.