New friends, old friends. Good friends, bad friends. Straight friends, drunk friends, unreliable friends. Gay friends. Having a group of friends you can depend on and spend time with is important. And having gay friends as allies rather than enemies has been pivotal in my development as a person. The trouble is, it’s not always easy to form gay-friendships. In fact, the hardest part about being a gay guy for me has been making other gay friends. Trying to form a gay friendship is, well, it’s like navigating your way through a glittery minefield. It may seem all glitz and glamour, sparkly and pleasant. You can get close with someone, share with them the very raw essence of your soul, but then one night you both may have too much to drink, or you’re both horny and before you know it you’re on top of each other, grinding, grunting like Serena Williams when she serves. Suddenly everything becomes extremely complicated. Yes, gay friendships are great, but if you place one pedicured toe out of line then BOOM. Shit will get real messy, real fast.
I can’t recall one gay friendship I’ve had (have) that hasn’t involved me at some point engaging in sexual activity with them. Most of the time it was at the start of the friendship, during that teething period where you are unsure if you like them, or if they like you, or if you LIKE them. That stage where you laugh a little bit too hard at each other’s jokes and consider what your life would be like if two ended up ‘together’ whilst you bond over a Kelly Clarkson song. It’s because of this that I find it hard to make friends that are gay. However, this struggle isn’t exclusively linked to my blatant character flaws, no. It’s hard to be friends with other gay guys because at some point, somewhere, someone else (probably another gay guy) will question your motives. And you’ll probably question each other’s’ too.
In my experience, I’ve found that gay guys embody a dangerous combination of traits that are stereotypically associated, although not exclusive too, with either male or female genders. They have that catty side that the media often portray woman as having, but is sometimes very true. I am not saying all gay guys are cruel (or that all woman are), but when you’ve been burned by one of them then it often feels like they are all like that. Gay guys fight, sometimes, with words and subtle yet sharp icy glares. They are experts in dishing out cold-shoulders and in the art of ignoring people. Blunt one-word answers; passive aggressive ways of commenting on someone’s actions or outfit. We shoot invisible bullets that are aimed right for the heart. Gay guys also have that typically male ‘caveman’ mentality as well – the one that often sees them thinking with their penis, rather than common sense. I feel it is this trait that often interferes with friendships. I am not saying all gay guys just fuck around with whoever whenever they are horny, but let’s be honest. How many of us, hands up, have sent flirty snaps maybe even nudes to someone you consider a friend or normally wouldn’t even give a second glance purely because you are horny? Yeah, I thought so.
It’s really easy to think that other gay guys are my competition. I spend a lot of my time very suspicious of others gays if I’m in their company. Recently I’ve became close with someone and when I was over at his flat, with his friends, I felt very on edge and judged. Perhaps it was paranoia, but I felt as though that when they looked at me all they saw was this pale, awful, boring person; the human equivalent of mayonnaise. I felt like I was in competition with them. Competition to be the funniest, or the smartest. To be the one whose butt looked best in super spray jeans. I panicked that perhaps one of them would be attractive to the guy I am attracted too. I found myself making nervous small talk in a feeble attempt to try and worm my way into their social circle. Looking down at my feet, avoiding eye contact in case they notice my weird eyes. Forced mundane chat about how great Pumpkin Spice lattes are rolled off my tongue (when really it’s just coffee laced with cinnamon flavouring and pumped full of corn syrup and is actually when you think about it quite disgusting.)
There’s this reluctance that appears when gay guys meet and it’s one you don’t often see in straight men. Typically, they just get on from the get go, and then later start to dislike each other. I find when making gay friends though that there is a certain amount of distrust that washes over you at the beginning. For example, I meet someone, friends of a good friend perhaps or his partner. I smile politely and make basic chat and they do the same. Then next time we see each other I pretty much ignore them, and they ignore me. I size them up like opponents, and they do the same. They maybe think I’m after their man? If I see them again the it means they are pretty much sticking around and I have work out what they’ve done that I don’t like to justify my recently born disdain toward them. This happens, but we cover it up with comments like ‘I don’t have a problem with him’ but secretly we hurl dirty glances at each other. Then, after a few weeks of spending time together I allow myself to defrost; I swallow my pride and make conversation over drinks and before I know it bottles are consumed at a frantic rate and I find myself saying ‘why weren’t we friends earlier!’
Then comes that unspoken and overzealous ‘BFF’ pact you make with someone whenever you first enter each other’s lives – and this is the best part of any friendship for me. It’s the best part because during that blissful stage there isn’t any complications or drama or pesky questions marks hanging over your feelings – you simply enjoy each other’s company. You meet up for ‘girl’s night’ and quickly embark on a bender and go savage animal. You play ‘gays in common (when you go through Facebook and chat shit about the gays you’ve got in common, and share tales and shriek when you both realise you’ve slept with the same person.) The friendship plays out like this then the more you spend time together and the more you drink, the more you start making raunchy sex jokes or showing each other dick pics or nudes. Then eventually you talk about anal sex and what you like/don’t like about it and grunt as your friend rehashes tales of their ex. Eventually you make the not-to-subtle transition into vodka shots and before you know it you’re stroking the bulges that are protruding from the each other’s crotches. Shit has once again got complicated, because one party is always that little bit more into the friendship than the other.
I do not believe I am mentally equipped to gracefully manoeuvre a friendship with someone I find visually pleasing. Particularly if that person is by nature quite flirtatious. I always wind up dipping my feet into the realms of romantic possibility; letting myself be carried away by thoughts of ‘what could be.’ And before I know it I’ve gone from dipping my feet to being completely submerged and the friendship becomes a very tangled web of lust and guilt and confusion. Our friendship becomes shaky and I approach them in an almost cat-like way. I nuzzle up to them; send beautifully crafted texts telling them how great they are. They get bored, or freaked out, or both, and start becoming distant. I find myself making an overabundance of small talk because I simply cannot stand the silence that’s lingering between us. I begin to get jealous when they make new friends; I then meet these news friends and the same behaviour begins to play out again (tweet: snake emoji.) I keep my promises to them whilst they start cancelling plans. I crave rejection, so this makes me want them more. Before I know it what I’ve gone from awkward first meetings, to becoming close friends and spending all our time together, to allowing myself to become romantically attached and sabotaging the friendship. I can’t keep what I feel to myself, so I tell them. My need to ‘overshare’ tends to be the final blow.
For me to be a good friend you need to be honest. You need to keep in touch. You need to be open and willing to risk things getting messy. Making a gay friend isn’t an easy task, but it shouldn’t be. A good friend will go to the ends of the world for you or come over at stupid o’clock when you’re feeling suicidal, even though you think it’s a little bit fucked up they didn’t turn up to your night out. A good friend is better than family because you don’t have to blame them for your genes; they are better than boyfriends because you don’t have to have sex with them when you’re tired. A good gay friend is great to have because it is someone else that has been through similar experiences than you. For me though getting to the stage where that gay friend is just that, a friend, is really hard. There are many hurdles and I tend to trip and stumble over them. That said, it’s worth it when you finally get there.