Television shows such as “Will & Grace” brought the dynamic between gay men and straight women into public light. That particular show was a comedy so we sometimes saw the cartoon version of these types of relationships but the more realistic, intimate side was portrayed as well.
Women who have close relationships with gay men will tell you that it isn’t about the stereotypical idea of fashion and hairstyles as a vehicle for bonding. Most gay men I have spoken to tend to agree that these relationships offer an opportunity to be close to someone of the opposite sex, who is not a relative, without the added sexual tension that often crops up.
These relationships are fraught with all of the same issues present in any platonic coupling. There are disagreements and falling-outs. There are moments of support and camaraderie but there doesn’t seem to be the same level of competition that can be present between same sex friends. In this way, women tell me, there exists a comfort level, and even a trust, that they often don’t experience with their girlfriends.
As the media continues to offer more examples of homosexual relationships, America’s attitudes have been shifting. In a 1996 Gallup Poll, 27% of Americans approved of same sex marriage. Compare this to a recent Gallup Poll which found more than 50% were in favor of legalizing gay marriage. Many of the stereotypes are thankfully changing. As old notions begin to change, gay male and straight female relationships are more frequently represented in the media and more accepted in society. There does seem to be a unique bond between these men and women and one that has a slightly different feel than that of other relationships.
Several of my gay clients have shared with me over the years that, while they were growing up and before they came out, they were more likely to have close friendships with girls. This is especially true during their adolescent years. Not only are young girls often more accepting of males who may have more feminine traits, or appear different, but they are also not as likely as their male counterparts to be threatened or fearful of interacting with them. The often-confusing years of puberty and adolescence can leave those struggling with their sexual orientation feeling alienated. Ironically, while girls can be much tougher on each other when it comes to being judgmental or hurtful, they tend to offer a more accepting, non-critical environment to their gay male friends.
For young girls who are self-conscious and anxious about their interactions with boys, forming a friendship with a male that doesn’t include the romantic element can help to build their self-esteem. Both sides offer elements of a friendship that may not necessarily be found in a same sex platonic union.
Do you have a cherished relationship like this and if so, has it been different than other friendships in your life?
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