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Friendship beyond gay stereotypes

OPINION

  • LOSANGELES.CA.0506.Dustin Robertson, 35, is a music video editor and personal trainer who uses Grindr, a location-based dating app for gay men. Through the app, he has found both clients and romantic partners. Here he surfs Grindr while at the Abbey in West Hollywood May 05, 2011. Story is on trend of GPS dating apps, which allow users to spot prospective mates close by -- often down to the feet. Subject for photo is Dustin, a user of Grindr, a gps dating app for gay men. We'll be following him around for a while Thursday night as he hopefully meets men through his smartphone app.(Barbara Davidson/The Los Angeles Times)
LOSANGELES.CA.0506.Dustin Robertson, 35, is a music video editor and… (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles…)
July 23, 2013|By Niki Fritz, @fritzfrack | For RedEye

I've got to plead to all the gay-loving straight ladies out there: Get off of Grindr now!

I know, I know, you meant no harm. But not only are you being insanely insensitive, you're being ignorant jerks. (Jerks with great duck-face selfies, but still jerks.)

For those of you not aware, Grindr is an app designed for gay men to meet other gay men. It can skew toward the raunchy side, with quite a few adult pics poking through the ether. It is most certainly not meant for cissexual women convinced they'll find their new gay bestie. The only reason I'm aware of the app is because my best friend is an occasional user and enjoys sharing the bounty of his finds.

Yes, my best friend is a gay man. I hear the cries of injustice: "You already have a gay best friend! Why are you trying to stop other ladies from finding that same immeasurable joy?"

I'm only going to say this once: Kevin is gay, but he is not my gay best friend. He is just my best friend. Kevin's gayness is a wonderful part of him that I appreciate, but it is not the basis of our friendship.

Society doesn't get this and sees our friendship only as the "Will and Grace" stereotype. Boystown-lovin' ladies on Grindr looking for their very own personalized GBF are only fueling the ignorance fire.

Besides, if Kevin is my Gay Best Friend, then I'm his "fag hag," a term I find neither endearing nor particularly flattering for either of us. The GBF stereotype lets society deem my friendship with Kevin less than other friendships, framing it as "shallow," a friendship that must be based on a shared love of penis and vodka and not real love. 

The truth is, our bestfriendness is based on the same stuff as more traditional friendships: oversharing of personal vulnerabilities and a deep love for screamo.

Kevin is my best friend because we grew up together. Because we used to be chubby adolescents who ate croissants, read each other journal entries and tried to grow up faster than our small town would let us. Because we watched "The Used" documentary on Friday nights more times than I care to admit.

Because Kevin was always straight to me, until that one night he was ready to tell me he wasn't; that night didn't change anything essential about our friendship.

Of course Kevin coming out is an important part of our friend story.

During the past five years, we both had first love and loss, we dealt with losing our parents' unconditional support, and because we were early 20-somethings we hated parts of ourselves and learned to love new parts. He came out and we grew up together. That is the true stuff of a GBF.

I know those ladies on Grindr are just looking for a connection like we all are. And I know they think a GBFriendship will just be filled with boy talk, shopping and endless dancing at Hydrate. That does sound lovely. It is also pretty vapid.

So if any of you homosexual-seeking straighties out there still want a GBF, here is my recommendation to you. Join an LGBT group, volunteer at a gay organization, or donate time to a gay political campaign. Get to know the real issues and discrimination the LGBT community is facing.

Learn what is behind the fun gay stereotype. Learn to love someone as a person, not as an adjective.

Niki Fritz is a RedEye special contributor.

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