Why Can't We Be Friends
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January 19, 2016

Why Can’t We Be Friends

friendship

Gay men can be so focused on hookups and romance that we miss opportunities for friendship.

When I was in middle school us boys segregated ourselves from the girls. We would play video games, and they would do whatever it is pre-teen girls do. The only time we would come together was if someone’s parents were progressive enough to have a co-ed birthday party. And even then, the early pubescent sexual tension was palpable. When I entered high school, things changed. I came out as gay and was accepted into the more comfortable girls club. There was no question about my status with the girls because of my sexuality. And while I was surrounding myself with people I could relate to more than the boys of middle school, the others were still caught in the notion that, if you were a straight boy hanging around a straight girl, you were dating, or at least one side was interested in the other. It wasn’t until college, and even still then to a degree, that we decided to resign from these gender clubs and develop friendships without speculations of romance. Now, history seems to be repeating itself. Only this time it manifests itself inside of my gay community.

As a member of a gay chorus boasting almost 270 singers, I have found some spectacular people and made some wonderful friends. It is truly a blessing. But similar themes have been sprouting up. Gay men, gossips as some of us are, love to speculate who’s dating whom, or who’s going home with whom. And there are many reasons for it; some want to know who’s available and who isn’t, some find genuine joy in seeing two men finding a partnership, and some just like the scandal. But one thing this doesn’t allow for is friendships.

It is expected that, from the outside, most people assume all gay men are just sleeping with each other. I’ve been asked more times than I can remember if the chorus is one big sparkling gay orgy (I may be embellishing but you get the point.) This, of course, is not the case. There are hookups, sure, and even a few marriages in the chorus, but, as a rule, it is not true. What you will see more of are friendships. Strong friendships. This begs the question, can two gay men be friends without one or both having romantic feelings for the other? The age-old debate of whether a straight man and a straight woman can be strictly platonic has been fought from both sides, but now the gay community is confronting the same.

One of my best friends happens to be a chorus member. To be honest, I have many close friends there. This particular friend and I use to have lunch every week until I got a full-time job, now we do dinner. We’ll see movies, go dancing, and have even made plans for Valentine’s Day. We’ve slept in the same bed on multiple occasions, and not once was a “move” pulled. At this point, it’d be like pulling a move on my own brother. We don’t try to screw our family members, so why can’t these rules apply to members of our selected family?

I bring it up not out of my own frustration. I really don’t mind what people think. But it can hinder you in a certain way. Say someone is interested in you, but sees you hang around one person all the time. If they assume you two are dating, they might give up and move on. Or say you want a relationship so badly that you’re ignoring some wonderful opportunities for friendships.

It can be damaging to limit yourself to hookups and fuck buddies, or viewing every gay person as a possible mate. They don’t have to be. In fact, having friends in the gay community with no romantic involvement is incredibly healthy in building your support system. After all, who knows your struggle as a gay person better than someone who has gone through a similar pain? It’s nice to have someone you can talk about boys with, or discuss LGBTQ issues with someone who is equally affected by them. You’re also not doing yourself any favors by assuming every gay pair you see walking together is dating. If you limit your definition of a gay relationship to that of a romantic one, you are missing out. So go make more gay friends.

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Dain Evans
A transplant to Brooklyn from the Midwest, Dain has been an advocate for change since the beginning. After graduating from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Documentary Film Producing, he continued this work at organizations that shared this mission, including Kartemquin Films, creators of Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters, POV, a documentary series on PBS, Film Sprout, the community outreach powerhouse behind The Invisible War and The Hunting Ground, and UnionDocs, a non-fiction community arts organization. He continues this passion as the founder and host of Permission, a blog and podcast encouraging "no apologies" in the LGBTQ+ world.