• Mon, Jul 12 2010

Your Gay Best Friend Is Not An “Accessory” (No Matter What Teen Vogue Says)

We’re going to play a game, okay? I’m going to name three things. You’re going to tell me which ones are accessories.

1) A purse

2) A headband

3) The human being sitting next to you who happens to be gay

If you said, “all three of them!” I guess you work at Teen Vogue. They’ve just done an article in which they label Gay Best Friends the “Must have accesory for Spring!’ The lede runs:

This spring, sixteen-year-old Mimi* noticed a new trend at her Pacific Palisades, California, high school. The must-have items for her fashionista classmates included a Proenza Schouler tie-dyed top, a shrunken military jacket, neon-bright chunky bracelets, and . . . a gay best friend.

First off, judging from their sartorial choices, this high school exists in 1985. But let’s ignore that.

On one hand, well, I guess this means that coming out in high school isn’t going to get you beat up as much as it used to. I’m glad Teen Vogue thinks that being gay is a cool thing, instead of a not cool thing. And if it means that some kids feel slightly more comfortable coming out, then that’s great.

On the other, much larger hand (it’s affected by gigantism) being gay does not turn someone into an “accessory”. Will you meet some gay people you like hanging out with over the course of your life? Yeah. I mean, hopefully. But don’t seek them out just because it’s trendy.

Why not? Because it seems like a really bad idea to base your friendships on one aspect of this person’s character. Because no one is defined just by their sexuality. Are you friends with everyone who is straight just because they’re straight? Of course not. Same goes for anyone who is gay – you’re not going to like them just because they’re gay.  Sure, a gay guy might share your love of shopping and uncomfortable feelings of attraction to Justin Bieber. Or he might like the Raiders and think that Sarah Palin is a great feminist. Gay people can be horrible human beings just as easily as straight people.

The only voice of sanity in this article seems to come from Katie, in Dallas, who says:

“I hate all the tired tropes perpetuated by the media. My best friend, Brett,* isn’t some superfabulous style consultant that I take shopping and sing show tunes with. I think of him as my best friend in the world, not my gay boyfriend or GBF. Sure, we talk about frivolous things sometimes and have a lot of fun together, but we’ve also helped each other through all kinds of weighty life issues like loss and heartbreak–and I was there for him when he came out in high school. It’s a two-way street.”

Which is pretty much the way it should be.

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