There are three guarantees in every gay man's life: the moment when you realize you like dick; your first time at a gay bar, overwhelmed by all the hot guys; and conflict with your best girlfriend. (I won't say fag hag because it's retro and rude.)
We've all seen Will & Grace. We know how these friendships work. Gay men and women's relationships are rich and rewarding but also super fucking complicated. It truly is a boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic minus the sex. Many gay men find it easier to form emotional bonds with women than other homosexual men. They come on the faces of strangers they meet on Grindr, but reserve cuddling for their best girlfriends. Why? Because they aren't comfortable with the concept of loving a dude.
This was my journey for a long time. I had girlfriends aplenty but zero gay friends. I claimed I didn't get along with gay guys. "They're too superficial and bitchy!" I said. I was like a girl who says she doesn't get along with other women because they're catty and jealous—a.k.a. bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.
When I moved to Los Angeles, CA, two and a half years ago, I finally stopped drinking internalized homophobia juice and found a good group of gays. For several months, I felt like I'd struck a nice balance between my girlfriends and my homos. Everything was in order—until I went to my friend Kyle's 35th birthday party. Held at an unassuming wine bar on the Eastside, I marveled at the fact that there were no women in attendance.
"Where were all your girlfriends last night, babe?" I asked Kyle the next day.
"Uh, they're gone."
"What do you mean 'gone?'" I asked. "Did you kill them?"
"No, babe. They got married and had kids. I barely see them anymore." He paused. "How old are you again?"
"Oh, it'll happen to you soon. You'll see."
"I'm done hanging out with gay guys!" my best friend, Lara, screamed at me after a night out at a gay bar. Three gay guys had spilled their drinks on her without apologizing and one had even questioned the quality of her leather jacket.
"What do you mean you're done?" I screamed back. "We've given you so much!"
"Please. The only thing you've given me is a nine-month dry spell. I have to start hanging out with girlfriends and, like, go to actual straight bars." She pondered this for a moment and then shuddered.
I thought Lara was being dramatic, but over a year later, Lara has yet to visit a gay bar unless you count the restaurant Pump. She now hangs out exclusively with straight guys and engages in bizarre heterosexual rituals called "Dave Matthews Band concerts." We're still very close but it's different: fewer poppers and more eating popcorn at the movies.
Shortly after Lara declared her ban on gay men, I got the news that my other best girlfriend, Caitie, was engaged. I expected the news—Caitie had bagged a standup guy for three years—but the announcement felt like someone had punched me in the balls. Was Kyle right? I wondered. Was Caitie's wedding going to be our friendship funeral?
A few months after her engagement, Caitie and I went wedding dress shopping. As she tried on dress after dress, I thought, Oh my god. We used to get high as fuck and go dancing at dive bars filled with drag queens. Now we're discussing different types of veils? What the hell is happening?!?
Nothing kills those eggs faster than singing 'Leather and Lace' wasted at the gay bar.
Caitie was embracing a heteronormative milestone, leaving my single childless ass in the dust. Gay men aren't tethered to the traditional markers of adulthood; nobody pressures us to have kids, and the federal government has only recently allowed us to get married. But women are different. If they want to start a family, they feel their biological clock ticking and honey, nothing kills those eggs faster than singing "Leather and Lace" wasted at the gay bar.
None of Caitie's behavior was actually suggesting that I was gay roadkill. Throughout the whole wedding process, she was her usual amazing self, but whenever we got together, I couldn't help but feel like the Other. Her bridesmaids were settled down (one already had a child), and when they swapped stories about their lives, I would sit in the corner thinking, Um, well, my boyfriend and I watched Real Housewives and got wasted last night. And I think I just killed my third house plant. It's jarring to be on the same page with your best friend and then you see your paths split overnight. The person you did everything with is now entering a new phase of her life, a phase that is unrecognizable to you.
The weekend of the wedding, I was wracked with anxiety. Part of me felt overjoyed and excited. The other part was worried that our friendship was over. This was our final hurrah. Our relationship was going to be a series of catch up calls and lunches. After babies enter the picture, we'll talk again when the kids are off at college.
The wedding was stunning. Caitie has such great taste. She looked like a Manson girl. For a moment, all of my anxieties went bye, bye, bye, and I remembered why the fuck I was actually there: to celebrate someone I love finding happiness. It sounds cheesy— forgive me if you're lactose intolerant—but it's true. Weddings are a beautiful thing.
But here's the real truth about gay men and women: Relationships change. I'm not going to sit here and type, "Despite it all, Caitie and I resumed our friendship as normal and everything's perfect!" No. Time fucks shit up. We don't talk as often. She lives in Oakland, I live in LA, and we rarely see each other. Gone are the days of us being young and high, living together in New York—that's never going to happen again. But in resenting Caitie for moving forward, I was being selfish. You can't just freeze your friendships and put them in a museum. You have to let them evolve, even if it means no longer having you at the forefront. To put it bluntly: You can't be a controlling psycho gay best friend.
This can be harder than you think. Gay men and women have something that exists between a relationship and a friendship. When you start getting close, you have an implicit agreement that you're partners and you'll check in with each other before any major life changes. Then you realize, Oops! That's not realistic.
As I get older and my girlfriends have kids (I have, like, two that want them), I'm sure our relationships will get even crazier but I have to remember to not act like an asshole. Who am I to begrudge my girlfriends for finding guys who love them and fuck them? Get it, girls. Get everything you want out of life and hopefully, after all is said and done, there'll be a little space for us to dance and do poppers.