I have a lot of gay, lesbian, and transgender friends. Among those friends are drag kings and queens, comedians, and various other performers. Whenever this comes up in conversation, typically because someone is gay bashing or being generally ignorant, some girl always chimes in with “awww, I wish I had a gay friend” which is typically followed by some type of stereotypical bullcrap reason such as “to go shopping with me and help me pick out clothes”. Ladies, allow me to clear something up for you, this kind of thinking is EXACTLY why you DON’T have gay friends.
- First and foremost, wanting gay friends is why you don’t have gay friends. You want them based on some stereotypical and often self-centered ideal. Would you be friends with someone who sought you out as a friend based on some preconceived idea about what you could do for them without them ever having met you? Not likely.
- Saying you want a gay friend to shop with is no different that saying you want a black friend to teach you to dance hip hop. It’s just stereotyping gay people in a way that robs them of their individual identities. Stop it.
- How self-centered are you to assume that if you had a gay friend he would have nothing better to do with his time than hang out at the mall with you? You probably already have female friends, do THEY want to hang out at the mall with you? What difference do you think a guy loving wiener is going to make in this scenario?
- Gay men are not chicks with penises. Well, trannies are, but that’s not the point. Gay men generally don’t want to be your girlfriend.
- Homosexuals are people just like everyone else. Homosexuality does not necessarily equate to “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” any more than being female equates to “Sex and the City”. Sure, we’ve all met people who fit that mold, most of us don’t though. Nobody likes being stereotyped.
- If you’re open to having gay male friends, you also need to be open to having lesbian, bisexual, and transgender friends. If you select 1 form of “non-threatening” homosexuality to find endearing while feeling threatened, intimidated, or disgusted by others, congratulations, you’re still a bigot. This also holds true in the reverse. If you think lesbians are cute but gay men are threatening, intimidating, or gross, you’re a bigot. Period.
- Telling a drag queen “You’re so beautiful! I wish I could do make-up like that” is a bit ridiculous. Drag queens / kings are performers. They wear stage make-up. Anyone involved in theater can teach you about stage make-up. Heck you can learn it from youtube. I don’t say that to diminish the art. I think it definitely takes talent and skill. I’m just saying that you’ve had your entire life to learn to do make-up. If you haven’t figured it out by now, learning the art of covering non-existent 5:00 shadow and creating feminine cheekbones is not likely to help you much.
- If you go to a drag show, remember it’s a show. Those in it are performers and like many other performers, many kings and queens do appreciate your compliments and input. However, assuming your intrusion into a break is welcome or wanted is rude. If you feel the need to compliment a performance, do so and then leave these poor people alone unless you are invited to stay. Better yet, say it with money. Kings and queens work for tips. A tip says more about the quality of the performance than a compliment.
- When you see drag performers on a break, bear in mind they’re on a break. Would you want drunken strangers bothering you on your breaks? I didn’t think so.
- This one should actually be higher in the list but, if you go to a gay bar, remember that you are a guest in a gay bar. No one is there to cater to you. Like any other bar, a lot of people are there to hook up or to hang out with friends. Like any other bar, the patrons of gay bars don’t want to be bothered and harassed by those who are there to do none of the above. You’re a guest and as such, you should behave like one.
- If you’re hit on by someone of the same sex, it is no different than being hit on by someone of the opposite sex. Remember, you’re in a club. People go to clubs to hook up. You don’t have to be interested but you don’t have to be a jerk either. It’s flattering to be hit on and you can reject advances politely. You asked to be hit on when you walked in the door. You made that choice. Don’t be a douche about it.
- If you have a LGBT acquaintance or friend, for the love of whatever, don’t constantly try to engage them in conversations about their sexuality. It’s okay to be curious or ask questions on occasion but be reasonable. Would you constantly ask a black friend questions about being black or an Asian friend questions about being Asian? Sure, people are curious about people and cultures different from their own but it is also important to be respectful and to remember that other people are not defined by their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation any more than you are.
- Finally, gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual people are people. Just treat them like people.
In short, if you can’t separate someone’s sexual orientation from who he or she is as a whole, why would he or she want to be friends with you? It’s about respect and boundaries as much as it is about accepting someone for who he or she really is and not just some preconceived notion you have about them. I have gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, polyamorous, Asian, Indian, African, African-American, Middle-Eastern, Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, Muslim, Atheist, Jewish, rich, poor, gamer, vegan, rennie, left handed, short, tall, fat, skinny, redneck, goth, punk, metal-head, etc., etc., etc., friends and to me, they are all just friends. While I recognize their differences, I don’t feel the need to define them by those differences and I try hard not to stereotype them.
If you want certain kinds of friends based on stereotypes and preconceived notions, that’s why you don’t have those kinds of friends. It’s that simple.