"Bros before 'mos"

Being the Straight Guys’ Gay Best Friend

"Bros before 'mos"

Photo Illustration Credit: Kevin O’Keeffe

I love straight men.

No, not that kind of love. That was high school. I love them in a bromance kind of way. Probably a good 95% of my male friends are heterosexual. And I love them all, despite my inability to understand their sexual viewpoint.

Conversely, I don’t love gay men very much. Again, not that way. I’ve loved one or two. I just don’t tend to get along with them. One of my best friends is gay, but beyond him, I don’t really interact well with other homosexuals. That’s pretty confusing, considering when I was in high school I envisioned my friend group in college as being a sexually-fluid tableau. Instead, it’s just a lot of heterosexuals.

Now let me be clear: this is totally fine! I wouldn’t trade my friend group for anyone else in the world. I’d rather have great friends from a homogenous group than shitty friends from a more diverse one. However, it’s not just me having trouble; it’s much more a general cultural problem. So I do find myself pondering the question: why do gay men have a hard time getting along?

This is a wild and irresponsible generalization, but take as gospel for the sake of this post that there are two types of gay guys: more masculine-thinking and more feminine-thinking. Again, this is a total generalization only to be used for the purposes of this article. Please do not ask the nearest homosexual if he is a masculine- or feminine-thinking person. He will not react well. Additionally, please know that masculine and feminine guys are not the same as masculine and feminine thinkers. Loosely defined, masculine thinkers are more logical and organized, while feminine thinkers are more impulsive and creative.

Got all that? Okay. Generally, I am a more masculine thinker, perhaps in no way moreso than when talking about sex and sexuality. Not only am I highly logical and organized, but I’m also totally honest about my sexual appetite. Suffice it to say, I really like men, will brazenly flirt with men (even straight men!) and generally just really like talking about it with others. While you might think that would put straight men off, I think that generally (yes, I know, I’m overdosing on the word “generally”), guys love to talk about sex, and they appreciate someone who is honest and comfortable with the subject.

Conversely, women generally prefer the more asexual, media-promoted image of a gay man, obsessed with fashion, pop culture and the other “safe” subjects. I’ve tried writing something about this in the past to no avail (it’s a sticky subject, to be sure), but suffice it to say that when a woman says she wants a gay best friend, it’s not because she wants to talk about sex with him. It’s because she wants him to tell her how fabulous she is, go shopping with her and watch “27 Dresses” while drinking wine on a Saturday night.

Personally, I do have some of these traits. I’m a “Project Runway” devotee, I love H&M and I will happily snap the hell up for a fierce-looking woman, but when it comes to how I define myself as a gay man, it’s much more about the gender of my desired sexual partners and much less about anything else. Even in my friendships with women, I make sure to draw the boundaries. While I will call them diva and quote “Mean Girls” all day with them, I also talk to them about men and my own needs. I would never befriend a woman who only seeks the asexual version of a gay man.

However, gay men in the more asexual mold generally don’t have nearly the rivalry with one another as men in the more masculine-thinking mold, leading to more friendships between them. Masculine-thinking gay men are on the whole much more competitive, definitely fracturing any possible connections. But what about between the two groups? Why aren’t there more friendships between masculine- and feminine-thinking gay men?

I’m hardly the first to break this news, but there is definitely a subconscious stigma of being “too gay” in our culture, leading us to more harshly judge those whom we deem more feminine or, to put it more crudely, fruity. It’s derogatory, demeaning, destructive and yet I’ve caught myself doing it plenty of times. It’s why we feel comfortable hurling the term “fag” at one another despite that when you think about it, you realize how horrendous it truly is. We should be building ourselves up, not tearing each other down. Yet we’re stuck in the same cycle.

Hence why I’m left with mostly heterosexual friends of both genders. And while I’m fine with the friends I have, I’d love to make more, with a variety of sexual identities.

I’m lucky to have the friends I do in my life, and if I told my high school self that I would be a proud, out gay man with tons of incredibly cool straight male friends, I would have been shocked. So snaps up to a culture of straight men who can embrace and love a gay man who is proud, because that’s a hell of a lot farther than we’ve been in the past. I just hope that we can reach the point where gay men can be friends without a stigma, without rivalry and without bias.

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The Five Rules of Successful Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Q: Why do they call it Black Friday?
A: Because you’re lucky if you get out with just a black eye.

There are a lot of things to process while in a store on Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. Questions such as, “Do I need a third copy of the first season of ‘Modern Family’? It’s only $10!” Or, “Would this be less expensive at Target?” Or, “Will I make it out of here alive?” It’s a lot to ponder. Unfortunately, when you’ve got to fight the masses for the lowest prices on the best stuff, there’s no time to ponder. There’s hardly time to breathe. There is only time to shop until you drop. That, and to survive.

Make no mistake: Black Friday shopping is not for the meek or faint of heart. It is a brutal, unforgiving process filled with crazed beasts you used to call your fellow shoppers. Is that Dr. Martin, your family optometrist? Not tonight, it isn’t. That is She-Ra, the warrior woman of bargain hunting. Oh, look, it’s Mitchell from your spin class! Except the only thing that will spin is your head as he blows right past you to get that My Little Pony toy for his daughter. They are not your friends; they are your competitors.

Some of you are probably already out at a store or preparing to go in the wee hours to attempt to find the best deals. For those of you reading this in a store, put this down and focus! You’ve already lost out on $150 worth of discounts in the time it took you to read these first 200 words.

However, if you haven’t left yet, here are my Five Rules of Successful Black Friday Shopping, guaranteed*.

1) Be prepared to stand your ground. You likely aren’t going to make it out of serious Black Friday shopping without at least one standoff, particularly if you’re going for the pricey items. You can’t be weak when it comes to defending your deal – be strong, be informed, be ready. However:

2) Know when to cut your losses. You aren’t going to get everything you want. Plain and simple. Know which items you’re going for that you think are the most valuable. That iPad mini? Totally worth fighting for! “The Hunger Games” on DVD? Girl, the odds are definitely not in your favor. Generally, anything with a sizable discount is a high priority; if you could get it for about the same price elsewhere, don’t bother. Speaking of:

3) Be smart about your locations, both pricing-wise and availability-wise. Is Barnes & Noble really going to have “Homeland” season one on DVD for less than Target or Walmart? Absolutely not. However, they’ll probably have a better selection of books than either of the other locations. You aren’t going to get everything you want at one store, so know which ones will have what, and what order you should hit them in. Which brings us to:

4) Plan every step of your venture. Are you at Target right now? No? Well, you’ve lost that battle already. They opened at 9 p.m. Walmart opened even earlier. By sitting around enjoying pumpkin pie and family time, you’ve already ceded crucial ground. Think about that Aunt Margaret brags about her iPhone 5 at Christmas, while you missed out because you were at her Thanksgiving dinner. However, plenty of stores haven’t opened yet. Think about what smaller stores probably aren’t hit up as much, and hit those first. Then, go back to places like Target and Walmart to clean their shelves and get the bargains that haven’t already been picked through. Finally:

5) When all else fails, go onlineScared of venturing into the wild masses? Missed something on your way that isn’t available anymore? Take to the web! Most stores have their discounts available online as well, as well as exclusive digital-only deals. While online shopping can often lead to identity theft and credit card fraud much more than in-store shopping, for this one day a year, it is truly the safer option, if one that usually leads to smaller rewards.

With these tips, you should be well-equipped to survive Black Friday. Good luck to all of you, and remember, you’re not here to make friends. You’re here to be number one.

(*Success not actually guaranteed. What? I’m not a psychic. That’s SO Kevin.)