Tuesday, August 01, 2006

No girlie-men here

I have a lot of gay male friends, and it is always annoying when I sense that my straight friends who have never met any of them usually imagine them as womanish guys. As if for me it's no different than having girlfriends and all we do is talk about hair spray. But nothing could be further from the truth. With the gay men I know, I've found it to be just the opposite, that in many ways they are more guyish than straight guys.

There's a reason for that. Straight guys have to mingle with women. They have to adjust their behavior to get along with women because after all they are either married to one or might get married to one someday. In other words their heterosexual sex drive makes accommodating the female species a necessary survival skill. Gay men on the other hand do not have as pressing a need to associate with women. Many of them can and do exist in an all-male world. Of course it's not good to make too many generalizations, and many gay men do have female friends Will & Grace style. But the fact remains, women aren't as necessary a part of a gay man's world as they are a straight man's world.

The kind of friend every woman should have

With my first gay male friend, the first thing I noticed in our email exchanges was just how--I don't know how else to put it--strictly male he was in the way he answered my questions about homosexuality. There was none of this kindly condescension I'd get from straight guys, as if they think it's kind of cute to hear a girl talking all intellectual--and whatever you do don't hurt her feelings! Not so with Bob. He was very respectful but strictly business. I'd throw out one idea and he'd simply say, "Yeah, I think you're onto something." Or, "No, that's not how it is." No big cheering section for thinking profound thoughts, and no holding back if I'm a little off-base.

Talking with Bob was refreshing and intimidating. I'd hadn't realized until then how much I had subconsciously relied on straight guys having lower intellectual standards for me (something that is probably subconscious on their part too). However, I discovered when the guy is gay, you're more likely to get the straight scoop (so to speak). For the first time in my experience talking with a guy, it felt simply like one human being talking to another. Now, whenever I seek the opinion of some of my gay male friends I have to be ready to hear the truth. And if they approve I feel more satisfaction, and take away a greater sense of self-confidence.