Archives for November 2013

Shattering the “Gay Friend” Glass

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Recently I found myself out to lunch with a good reporter friend of mine when the Gay Friend glass shattered. We were talking about a good (and gay) writer friend of mine. My reporter friend asked, “Is he the one you met on set last summer?” The answer was no, he was referring to another good (and gay) model friend of mine. “Is he the one you went to high school with?” Wrong again. “Is he the one you took to Bass Hall a couple of months ago?” Nope, though a good guess, since the friend in question has accompanied me to Bass Hall before. The reporter looked at me for a moment and said, “Huh. You really have a lot of gay friends, don’t you?”

Well, my word. It’s not like I turn down friends because I’ve met my gay quota.

The reporter went on to explain that most women have one Gay Friend, or perhaps a Gay Friend that’s been upgraded to a Gay Husband. That’s when the glass shattered for me. He was absolutely right. Women tend to have one Gay Friend, a fact I had previously never questioned. He asked how many Gay Friends I have and I had to stop and think. It’s not like I’ve ever counted. Why should I have?

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This discussion at lunch was especially interesting to me since the reporter friend himself is also a “Gay Friend” of mine, not that I ever think of any of my friends with this title. Sadly, many women do. Why? For some, it is more of a status symbol than a friendship. These women feel trendy if they have a Gay Friend. In fact, I’ve known several women who actively seek the friendship of gay men simply for the sake of having a Gay Friend, the kind of social accessory that puts women in the Women Who Lunch category. One particular woman I know tried desperately to get her very own Gay Friend, but firmly (and publicly) sided with Chick-fil-A during the scandal last fall, thus severing ties with the Gay Friend she fought for so valiantly. When you see a friend as an accessory to your societal outfit, what happens when the seasons change and that style is no longer en vogue?

 

Readers of GayStraight.com, I ask you this: just how progressive are women who have one token Gay Friend? When we have friends for the love of their friendship – no matter if they’re straight or gay, male or female – then we’ll really be getting somewhere.

Katie-Rose Watson is a publicist in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and creator of The Rose Table.

Straight and Gay Athletes: A Changing Culture?

A couple of decades ago, many gay men would never have considered coming out as gay athletes. This has recently changed. In the past few years, many men in various types of sports have gathered up courage to come out to their coaches, team, and institution. A few of these men include Derek Schell, Matt Korman, and Jason Collins. Not only are these men receiving great encouragement from LGBT-supporters around the country, but they may also be receiving full support from their straight team members.  Although more anecdotal, I thought this short post could highlight some of the changes that occurring in the professional athletic culture.

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It has been very well documented in the previous literature that straight men have more negative attitudes towards gay men than do straight women1.  Gay men who perceive these negative attitudes from their straight teammates might have found it difficult to come out. However, now that gay men are feeling more comfortable with the idea of coming out to their fellow teammates, could it be possible that the attitudes of straight men are changing?

Many prominent straight athletes are now speaking out about the rejection that gay athletes have experienced by their team and management. In turn, team management and many straight team members have come out with full support for their gay male players. Even straight players who have uttered gay slurs have been reprimanded by sports management. An example of this was seen last month when NASCAR punished Nelson Piquet Jr. for uttering a gay slur via Instagram2. Piquet was fined $10,000 and ordered to attend sensitivity training for his action. Even though we would want such an action to be reprimanded, a gay slur wouldn’t even have been considered deleterious to other team members in the past.

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Athletes Derek Schell (left) and Matt Korman (right)

Granted, prejudice towards gay men still exists in the professional athletic world. Nonetheless, because of the recent positive press that gay athletes are receiving along with the positive support from their team, it is possible that negative attitudes towards gay men are slowly being extinguished.

Are you a straight man or a gay man on sports team? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

References

1. Herek, G. M. (1988). Heterosexuals’ attitudes towards lesbians and gay men: Correlates and gender differences. Journal of Sex Research, 25, 451-477.

2. http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/2013/10/01/nelson-piquet-jr-joey-logano-fines-nationwide-nascar/2904977/

The 3 Dating Challenges for Gay Men

Dating is a subject that all individuals can relate to – gay or straight. Dating can either be perceived as an exciting, fun experience, or it can be perceived as a dreadful necessity in order to pin down a relationship. Even though straight couples have dating challenges of their own, dating in the gay world may have its own unique set of challenges.

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1.    A Smaller Dating Pool

Like I have mentioned in my previous posts, the gay dating world is extremely small compared to the heterosexual dating world. Because gay men represent a smaller percentage of the general population, gay men’s potential dating candidates are very limited. This may create a sense of anxiety for many gay men because the “plenty of fish in the sea” analogy no longer applies. This may be true especially if gay men inhabit a very small city or town where there is a limited amount of homosexual individuals to begin with.  In addition, because the gay dating scene is a small one, gay men may encounter other gay men that they have dated on a regular basis.

2. Distinguishing Gay from Straight Men

Although straight individuals can go up to an attractive member of the opposite-sex and them out on a date, gay men may have a more difficult time doing this.  In general, gay men must distinguish their potential mating partners (gay men) from other men that are only sexually interested in the opposite-sex (straight men). Some gay men may be skilled at doing this, however some gay men may not be. In the latter case, gay men may find it troublesome to approach a man that they find attractive due to the ambiguity of the man’s sexual orientation. This may be why some gay men prefer to frequent the same gay bars instead of venturing to other bars that are seen as “straight.” If there is a greater concentration of gay men in one establishment, there will be a greater likelihood that gay men may meet a potential dating partner.

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3.    A Date is also a Rival

Another unique distinction between the dating worlds of gay and straight is not only are gay men attracted to one another, but gay men are also in direct competition for dating partners. This poses a very unique dating dilemma for a gay man that is completely absent in straight dating. For instance, straight men are obviously sexually attracted to women, however straight men do not compete with women because they both desire mating partners of the opposite-sex. Conversely, because gay men are only attracted to members of the SAME-SEX, gay men can compete with one another because they share the same dating pool. Ultimately, this may create initial barriers and feelings of untrustworthiness between gay men as evidenced by recent research1.

For the most part, straight individuals are completely unaware of the unique set of challenges that gay men face in their dating world (at least in my experience). This is not surprising given that straight and gay individuals usually focus their attention on their own dating issues.

References:

1. Russell, E. M., DelPriore, D. J., Butterfield, M. E., Hill, S. E. (2013). Friends with benefits, but without the sex: Straight women and gay men exchange trustworthy mating advice. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 132-147.