Being gay means accepting that, one day, you could be left behind by the ones you love.
Let me explain. When you’re in your twenties, your straight girlfriends are practically your other half. You spend days attached at the hip, lying around having “I LOVE YOU” marathons, and nurturing an intimacy that’s unparalleled. You share apartments with these women, they become your plus ones, your “In Case Of Emergency Contact.”
Then things start to change. The hetero and homo life paths are linked together until they’re not, until the straight girl gets into a serious relationship and feels the urge to nest and start a family. Gay men, on the other hand, don’t have eggs that need freezing. We feel little pressure to get married. Unlike straight people, we’re not tethered to the traditional markers of adulthood. We marry our boyfriend if we want to (provided that it’s even legal) and the same goes for having children. In a way, it’s liberating. We can ask ourselves, “Do I want kids? Is it even necessary to get married? We’ve gone so long without it; we could just throw a giant party for our friends and family and have that be enough.”
But this freedom comes at a cost. The other day I was hanging out with my friend Kyle, who’s in his thirties and seemingly always surrounded by gay men. His birthday party was basically just like being in a room with a giant penis. Out of the fifty or so guests, I think only five were girls? It was nuts. Literally. So I asked him, “Kyle, what’s up with you only hanging out with gay guys? Where are your girlfriends?” And he was like, “Babe?” and I was like, “Hon?” And he was like, “My GF’s went MIA a few years ago. They all got married and had babies….
“So what?” I scoff. “They can’t just, like, get a sitter and come hang?”
“It’s not like that anymore,” Kyle said. “Trust me, you’ll see what I mean. Once you hit your thirties and your girlfriends start settling down, it all starts to change.”
As hard as it was to hear this rude truth bomb, Kyle’s probably right. Some of my girlfriends who are in serious relationships—not married, no kids—have already ghosted on me so they can lie in bed with their boyfriend and watch House Of Cards ALL DAY LONG. It doesn’t make sense. I know plenty of wifed-up gay guys who are almost a decade older than them and they’re still incredibly social. They go out to the bars, throw dinner parties, and go on vacations with their friends. So does that mean fostering a sense of community is more important to gay men than it is to straight people? Or do straight people just build their tribe with their nuclear family while gay men maintain theirs via meaningful friendships?
The older I get, the more I’m inclined to think so. Seeing all the straight girls I love begin new chapters of their lives feels bittersweet to me because I wonder, “Am I going to become gay roadkill?” I know I’m being a little ridiculous here but I’m sure there’s a nugget of truth to my fears. And I’m not saying this to be critical of straight people or to imply that they don’t give a fuck about their friendships. “They just want to get married, wear performance fleece vests while giving birth to two children, and sing the soundtrack to Frozen as they coast to the heterosexual finish line of life!” No, that’s not it. But it’s also naïve to think that our wants and needs are the same. In the last year or so, I’ve noticed that my single girlfriends don’t want to hang out at the gay bar with me anymore. “There’s nothing there for me,” they’ll say. “I can’t meet anyone.” It’s then that I’ll remember, “Oh yeah, you’re a straight girl who wants to fall in love and not die in a shitty two-bedroom apartment with their gay best friend. Right!” I don’t want that either. Trust! I want to find a husband too. Our end goals are the same but they can’t always be achieved together.
Now, more than ever, I realize the importance of forming bonds with other gay men. I spent so many years resisting these kinds of friendships because I was too insecure to handle it but now I don’t care. I need it. I need to be with other gay dudes who can commiserate about intimacy issues or the messiness of gay sex or discuss The Golden Girls in great detail for two hours without someone being like “zzzzz.” It’s crazy how many of our stories are the same. You enter a room full of gay men who look and act nothing like you but then you sit down and have a conversation with them and you discover just how similar you are. Being gay can often feel alienating and lonely, except in those moments of understanding and connection. Then everything feels golden.