The Gay Agenda is co-published by Manchester Ink Link and InDepthNH.org
Welcome Sam Whitaker of Keene State College To The Gay Agenda
Editor’s note: Tori Tucker and Emma Simpson are moving on from The Gay Agenda, but hope to come back as guest writers from time to time. Thank you Tori and Emma. The Gay Agenda is amazing and beautifully fills a serious void in New Hampshire because of your hard work. Thanks, too, for hand-picking your successor, Sam Whitaker. Welcome Sam. Sam is a senior at Keene State College. Sam is double majoring in English Writing and Literature, with Medieval Studies as a minor. He works as a Resident Assistant and is the president of KSC Pride, an LGBTQ+ student organization on campus. When he isn’t writing, Sam’s probably playing a video game or catching up on some sleep. — Nancy West
By Sam Whitaker, The Gay Agenda
Have you ever heard the term “GBF?”
It stands for gay best friend, and honestly it makes me want to GTFO. Essentially, the idea behind the GBF is that a straight person will have a gay individual who they befriend and do all sorts of fun things with. It doesn’t sound that different from a regular best friend, right?
Well, that’s because it shouldn’t be. I don’t call my Mom my straight mom, or anyone for that matter. Have you ever heard the term “GBF?” It stands for gay best friend, and honestly it makes me want to GTFO.
Essentially, the idea behind the GBF is that a straight person will have a gay individual who they befriend and do all sorts of fun things with. It doesn’t sound that different from a regular best friend, right? Well, that’s because it shouldn’t be.
I don’t call my Mom my straight mom, or anyone for that matter. It’s a weird way of qualifying a relationship you have.
Being friends with a gay individual shouldn’t be about cashing in, or benefiting from perceived advantages their sexuality will grant you. That honestly is a really bad way to view friendships, if you step back and look at it. You wouldn’t befriend a mechanic just to abuse their skills with cars, would you?
And even if you would (yikes) assuming that the gay person you’re friends with is going to be skilled at critiquing your outfits, or giving sage relationship advice is just offensively stereotypical. And this dynamic isn’t just limited to friendships.
Parents, siblings, cousins etc… Don’t assume your gay family member is going to enjoy shopping. I think I’ve had to explain this to my mom like five or six times by now. I remember shopping for shoes shortly after coming out and she mentioned how she was excited to go shopping with her gay son now.
I distinctly remember repressing my gag reflex. Coming out, strangely, had not magically granted me the patience for clothes shopping.
I can appreciate the sentiment of wanting to connect with someone based on notions of what they might like. But, when you’re doing so, make sure you aren’t relying on stereotypes and caricatures as sources of those notions. It can be hurtful to someone of any identity group to be stereotyped.
Additionally, if you fall back on those stereotypes specifically in regards to a loved one, it comes off a bit as if you don’t know them, or don’t care to know them as an individual. Our individual personalities and dreams, like all individuals, can range vastly.
It’s honestly more hurtful to know someone could only think of me as a stereotype rather than the idea that they just don’t know certain things at all. At least you could be honest and make an effort to learn. It’s probably safer than assuming I’ve watched the latest episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (I haven’t) and attempting to connect with me like that.
And when you do get to know someone who is queer and they don’t live up to your expectations of a queer individual don’t tell them about your disappointment. It’s probably not good to have expectations on how anyone should be gay or straight at all, but it also just isn’t realistic.
Coming out didn’t change anything about my personality. Before I came out I was a gaming nerd, and surprise: I still am. Don’t ask me to tell you my favorite drag queen or fashion designer, I couldn’t tell you. But if you wanted to ask my opinion on any of the Mass Effect games, or my undying obsession with The Elder Scrolls, I could talk your ear off for hours.
In searching for a connection with a loved one, or a new friend, don’t fall hard onto stereotypes. I understand that everyone is going to have them, and observe them from time to time. I even have gay friends who would be the complete opposite of everything I personally felt in this article.
However, there is a risk of dehumanizing when you start a relationship that way. If you want to be my friend, get to know what I actually like. I want to know what you actually like. Don’t treat queer people like novelties. I’m not your “GBF” I’m just your best friend. And that’s so much better.