Thursday, July 17, 2008

Straight Woman and Gay Gals

I have a gay male friend -- I'm also a gay man -- who is best friends with a straight woman I'll call Glenda. He and Glenda have known each other for years and she's supposed to be so "gay-friendly." But she offers opinions on the gay community that are just the usual Will and Grace stereotypes (neither my friend nor I are especially stereotypical) and I was really shocked when she said she'd rather not go to a certain gay restaurant because she didn't "want all the 'dykes' hitting on her." (And she's not that hot). My friend and I have been considering the possibility of a life-long partnership -- but not if Glenda's in the picture. I've confronted her about some things -- including the "dyke" remark -- but she just brushes it off. So does he. What do you suggest? G.L.

Maybe you should brush them both off. I've seen this situation before. Straight women who are friendly with gay men but who can't stand lesbians -- and yet it never occurs to them (and sometimes not even their gay friends) that this is HOMOPHOBIA! The same thing would be true of a straight guy who is friendly with lesbians but who can't stand "fags."

I've occasionally had to remind some of my gay brothers who make negative remarks about lesbians that lesbians are female homosexuals and if you put them down, you're putting yourself down because you are a male homosexual. Yes, even gay men can on occasion be sexist but when they attack lesbians (or vice versa) they're being homophobic as well. I hasten to add that I have never seen a gay man who is comfortable in his own skin say anything negative about gay women or women in general. [This doesn't mean that a gay guy who would rather not have women come into the gay bar where he's cruising, where he'd rather have a homoerotic, all male atmosphere, is necessarily sexist.]

Glenda has issues -- whatever they may be -- and it doesn't sound as if your friend is comfortable in confronting her on those issues, so he should at least let you do it for him. This isn't just about a straight friend who has anti-lesbian feelings, which is bad enough, it's about your comfort level, your sense of Gay Pride, and your aversion to homophobic attitudes. (I'll also put forth the possibility that some of the attitudes Glenda has toward the lesbian and gay community are coming from your friend.)

Don't give up on the guy yet. Sit down with him and make sure that he understands how you feel. Tell him you don't expect him to just dismantle a friendship of many years -- undoubtedly Glenda has her good points -- but that Glenda needs to know that some remarks and attitudes are simply not acceptable. (Maybe she's dealing with a little internalized homophobia?) If Glenda can't watch her mouth when you're around or deal intelligently with her issues, tell your friend that you don't want to spend any time with her and he'd better respect that.

Take it from there. If his friendship with Glenda is more important than his relationship with you, move on.

Gay male/straight female friendships can often be wonderful, but now and then you've got two dysfunctional people who are bathing in each other's self-hatred. Don't get caught up in it.


CupidsReviews Heidi said...

Sticky situation. I remember discussing something parallel with the Doc in another post not that long ago. I run with a group of funny people that poke fun at one and all, and as long as it is just that I don't see the problem. However what she was doing did not seem all too lighthearted. Some people think that such comments will make them fit in and don't mean them as well. Either way, she should be confronted whatever her motive conscious or not.

Bill Samuels said...

Yes, it's better to confront someone over a comment rather than let it fester.