As my writing is wont to do, this will likely get me into trouble and incur the proverbial side-eye here and there, but it is time that the truth emerged. There are many wonderful things about being a modern American homosexual. The whole "having to fight for basic rights and constitutional protections" part notwithstanding, the gay community -- and here, again, my experience pertains to the male portion of the community -- is the beneficiary of a degree of affirmation unlike anything that's occurred previously.
I'm not just speaking of marriage equality.
The nation's attitude toward the gay community has undergone a paradigm shift at a breathtakingly fast clip. (And yes, this President saying what he said when he said it has a great deal to do with it. If you don't understand the significance of his action, or question it -- regardless of party -- see me after class). We're at a point of near coexistence. Though work remains -- looking at you Georgia, North Carolina and Arkansas -- by and large we're in an astounding place. So, regrettably (not really) I'm going to have to break the hard news to you: The time has come for the gay best friend (or perhaps you prefer "GBF") to, once and for all, experience a quick, clean and unequivocal death.
He's become a staple of our collective zeitgeist. Who can forget the near ubiquitous web series that hastened us to "look at our lives and look at our choices?" I credit the onset of such lovable and decidedly pointed characters as Will Truman, the undeniably handsome Elijah, the ever whimsical Kurt and of course the inimitable Stanford Blatch with moving the needle on how mainstream Americans view the community. It's a powerful testament to the sign of the times when most new primetime television shows either feature a prominent gay subplot, garner criticism for lack of one or some combination thereof. It means something when the chattering class questions the lack of diversity on the television. This has been the medium by which we as Americans see ourselves. When there's a perception that the image we see is incomplete, without a piece of the LGBTQ community, that's a potent assertion about who we are as a people.
That said, the GBF is a narrow interpretation of the beautiful array of personalities that comprise the LGBTQ community. It's the unfair distilling of gay men to just one of the many things that makes him the guy who you want to be around because of his wit, sparkling personality or great taste in music. You limit his full agency when you do this. More succinctly: Don't put baby in a corner.
Particularly odious is the act of referring to an out gay man or men as "my gay," or "my gays." It's an understood rule of societal thumb that you don't compare things to ownership. I will capitulate here. However, the triteness that is inherent in referring to ANYONE -- sexual orientation aside -- as "my" anything cannot be overstated. What's next? My straights? My blacks? My GOD! For more on this, we turn to our field reporters Bette, Goldie and Diane.
The notion of the "gay best friend" works to calcify the idea of gay as other. It may seem to be a minor issue of nomenclature, but what you call something has meaning, in my most humble opinion. I don't want to be limited by my sexual orientation. Nor do I wish to have undue expectations placed on me because of aforementioned orientation.
No dear, I don't know why the guy you're into won't text you back. (I still haven't figured that out for my own purposes.) Apologies, but I don't have an opinion on everything you wear. (Unless, of course, it's particularly heinous, at which point, all bets are off.) Nope, I don't care to join you for pilates. (We banned torture... ish.) And, for the love of all that is good and HOLY: I am not -- repeat, NOT -- an honorary girl. I am proud to announce that after 24 years, my penis insists on staying around, and I'm ok with that.
We are entering a new era in this country's discourse. The arc of the moral universe, long as it may be, is truly bending toward a more just, enlightened and connected collective conscious. Stale monikers, such as the GBF, function as constructs of a hetero-normative and insensitive past that have no place in where we're going together. It may seem harmless, and I suspect that it did not originate from a place of malice -- perhaps it even arose from a place of genuine respect and good intentions. I get that. The same thing can be said of the initial launch of healthcare.gov, Mondale for President and ARTPOP.
It does not mean that we're in a rush to replicate any of those things anytime soon. I want my children to grow up in a country where they don't have two gay dads, but just two fathers who love and care for them dearly. Once I've met that special guy and make the decision to commit my life to his, I won't be gay married. I'll be married. When we see the election of some qualified, stylish and proudly out individual as commander-in-chief in our lifetime, he won't be the gay president. He'll be the president. I don't want to be your gay best friend. I just want to be your friend (we can iron out the "best" piece at a later date).
The words that we choose and the way we identify one another mean things. They have to, lest all communication cease to be meaningful. So yes, comrades. The time has come. Take him off life support. Turn off the Cher. Put the rainbow paraphernalia away. The GBF needs a sunset. He's served valiantly and has many other gifts to offer beyond his predilection for other men. It'll be difficult at first, but I'm confident we can get through this transition together. If not, no sweat. Global warming will take us all out soon enough anyway.