There are many things on Earth that are as natural as the air we breathe. One of the more curious, seemingly natural, phenomena that have been observed is the sense of instant camaraderie between straight women and gay men. Countless writers and studies have attempted to explain the connection between the two.
Many have attributed the connection to a sense of trust, due to the lack of competition and sexual attraction between the pair. However, I’d argue that the reason is less social and physical and more sociological and emotional. Rather than going for the general, the following theory extends specifically to averagely and largely feminine women, and moderately to dominantly effeminate gay men (as is typically portrayed and commonly seen).
Let’s start with the women. Across the globe women, both queer and straight, are still actively oppressed whether it be physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, professionally (or all of the above). Examples are both horrifying and heartbreaking, and span the globe. In February a Syrian girl was stoned to death for having a Facebook account. Colleges and Universities across the United States are being found guilty of mishandling sexual assault cases, leaving the victims without justice and protection — Harvard is the latest offender. Double standards run rampant for women ranging from inequality in sexual freedom and freedom of fashion, which often results in women being slut-shamed, like Bridget Anne Kelly who just a few days ago was publicly shamed by Chris Christie. Society tells women to be feminine and proper, yet sexually submissive and generous to her partner. It tells them to work hard in school, but to also begin planning for motherhood and marriage.
The suffering of women goes so frequently unnoticed because the powers in this country assure us that we are post-racial and post-sex. Everyone is equal, and everyone has the same opportunities, right? Wrong. In fact, wrong doesn’t even cover the complete falsity of the claim that the United States (and the world at large) is an even playing field. While there are many groups, besides women, that still face active oppression, there is one group that has consistently appeared to connect with women — and that is gay men.
It’s not because we can make wonderful shopping buddies, because we can be a good shoulder to cry on, or because we can be an attentive pair of ears when they need someone to talk to. The issue goes deeper than that. Gay men, quite obviously, are still oppressed and religiously and socially persecuted all over the world. Uganda celebrated the passing of an anti-homosexuality bill, Russia passed their anti-gay propaganda bill, and the United States has followed suit in its attempts to pass bills like the recent bigot flop that aimed to allow storeowners to deny service to homosexual clientele. Although we’ve celebrated wins against PROP 8 and DOMA, we are leagues away from being treated as equal human beings.
A quick glance at the news, accompanied by an open mind to the possibility that oppression still prominently exists, will easily reveal the struggles facing women and gay men. Living in a world that both mercilessly and ignorantly devalues and pushes you down can be truly overwhelmingly… and that’s just the hardship that comes with existing, living in your skin. That doesn’t include all the other crap we deal with on a daily basis (paying bills, going to work, finding time to sleep, maintaining friendships, etc.). It is through this turmoil that straight women and gay men find themselves drawn to one another.
Both are pushed down in society, giving them a sense of understanding and empathy, because they each know what it feels like to be judged before you even open your mouth. Gay men, and specifically feminine gay men, provide an empowering representation of femininity. Women can perceive what some people often write off as snappy sass, as a refreshing vision of men portraying femininity, female style and mannerisms as sources of power and pride.
In return women provide gay men with the affection, approval, companionship, and love, all of which they risked losing from the moment they stepped out of the closet (or if they were in a glass closet from the start). This is not aiming to suggest that straight men cannot provide this to gay men as well, but they are less likely to be that person due to a lack of first-hand experience with prejudice, or due to societal pressures to maintain masculinity, religion, or “traditional values.” They’re not totally to blame for this — straight men face a whole ton of pressure too… it’s just not always the same type of in-your-face pressure and aggression that women and gay men often face.
When you boil it down to the basics, gay men and straight women are able to find solace and validation in one another. Women get the empowerment they are stripped of, and gay men get a safe space in this crazy world. To others it may appear shallow and campy — but the truth is that it’s based on finding happiness and regaining our dignity, pride, and other parts of ourselves that we lost based on nothing more than our sex and sexuality.