Dear Christine, Wondering in White Lake

Dear Christine

I know this is probably more of a stereotype (partly propagated by “Sex & The City”), but many straight women seem to like having a gay male friend around to talk about clothes and TV drama. If a straight guy were to have a lesbian as a friend, what would likely be their common ground?

Wondering in White Lake

Dear Wondering,

TV sitcoms, and movies, love stereotypes. Remember “Will and Grace”? You had the same alliance between a straight woman and a gay man, sharing an apartment. It does happen, but most people are individual and unique, and don’t fit neatly into stereotypes. Some gay men have the fashion sense (remember “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”?) and love giving their straight women friends advice on styles, make-up and hair. Other gay men may well have other interests. Perhaps gay men and straight women appreciate similar tastes, interests and hobbies. Certainly, a straight woman would feel safe with a gay man, because he’s never going to hit on her, but just be her friend. He might be more open and talk about his feelings and his gay relationship than many straight men do. But there are plenty of straight men who are emotionally open and don’t hit on every woman they see, too.

Sometimes men in the gay community feel similar pressures to look beautiful, be in good physical shape and dress well to be even looked at. Women have experienced this forever, and consequently, there are a lot of girls and women who are bulemic and anorexic, trying to starve themselves into being their image of beautiful, i.e. thin. In my practice, I have met some gay men who have some of these same issues.

Society is hard on older women being seen as not attractive (using words like “hag” or “old maid” for example) and many women as they age make sure they dye their hair, get botox and wear make up to hid the gray and the wrinkles. Many gay men feel the only way to be attractive in the bars, for example, is to also dye their hair, botox and work out with a trainer for hours on end. Again, these are all stereotypes, so there are quite a lot of people who fit some of these pressures felt by straight women or gay men. There are lots of individuals who buck those trends and find their own path. I’ve seen some lovely older straight women with gray hair (Kathleen Sebelius, former Governor of Kansas, now Health and Human Services Secretary). Then there’s me, in my gray hair… but then I’m lesbian! The gay community can be hard on gay men who don’t look 22 and have a hard, svelt body too. Life isn’t fair.

The most important thing that people tend to share with friends is values, interests and frequency of interacting. That’s why many people become friends with neighbors, colleagues, or people they attended school with. If and when one of you moves, or one of you develops new interests or different hobbies, the friendship may last, or not, depending on what you each decide it means to you. So, just like any friendship, the depth and warmth depend on the people involved, gay, straight, bi or asexual!

Thanks for writing in. Christine Cantrell

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD
1026 W. 11 Mile Rd,
Suite C
Royal Oak, MI 48067
248-591-2888Click here to email Christine.

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