I am Not the “Gay Best Friend” by Dran Ngo

Think about this: imagine walking into a room filled with people you don’t know, excluding the person who invited you to this school function. Most of us have been there. Let’s add to this a bit, though. You hang out with your friends and they introduce you to a bunch of people who know about your sexuality. The first thing that comes out of their mouth after they introduce themselves is, “Oh my goodness! My friend is gay, did you want to see a picture?” as the person proceeds to whip out their phone and show a picture of their gay friend, hoping they’ll be the next millionaire match maker. If you are questioning the credence of this story, it happens. It happens much more frequently than you may think.

Today, what we find to be old news is the acceptance of homosexuals into our society. Generally society, Ontario in particular, has been welcoming and is praised for homosexuals having rights as well. Yes, great, it’s a wonderful thought that I can grow up and marry someone I love. But, there’s something else that terribly agonizes me about being gay. It’s the non-stop questions and random statements that people make towards me, or to any other gay individuals that they know. It’s not offensive, but it gets annoying after a while. Think about this for a second: how annoying would it be to be repeatedly asked about your job as a waiter. In the entire conversation you are having with this person they ask about how you make tips, how they know someone is a waitress and your secrets to being a server. Now, imagine having this conversation sixty-four more times in a day with just as many different people.

As a gay person on campus, I know how inclusive our community is, which I appreciate every single day. But, I have been asked the same questions so many times. I know for a fact that other gay individuals on our campus, or in their lives outside of school, are exposed to this same experience. Like others, I have a general taste in fashion, music and the activities I do on a regular basis. But, why aren’t other people being questioned constantly for it? I get it, it’s a conversation piece for awkward situations, but is this what society has turned to? Why am I being asked, “Let’s go shopping, you can be my personal shopper because you’re gay and you have such nice style,” Or, “Did you want to go on a date with my friend? He’s gay!” Here’s something I want to say but I can’t, “I don’t care.”

I interviewed a young adult named Henry Nguyen who is homosexual. He has recently graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) in Toronto. Nguyen explains his experience of being gay, “The idea of being annoyed is bittersweet. There is a positive aspect, which is that gays are being accepted into a society, yet it can come off as gays being objectified as a fad commodity. I guess it really depends on if the person is approaching you genuinely, or only for a more shallow purpose.”

When the conversation was directed to personal experiences of individuals acting differently, solely based on his sexuality, Nguyen commented, “Well I never run into the issue of people wanting to be my best friend because I’m gay, but it seems like having a gay friend has now become a fad. I guess it’s because of how the media of today are portraying gays. For example, shows like ‘Glee’ seem to glorify gays in that kind of social matter.”

I asked Nguyen if he has ever been “set up” by a random stranger or friend that knows another gay individual as well. He commented saying, “For straight friends or family, there seems to always be the famous line, ‘Oh I know a gay guy, you guys should meet’. I guess people fail to realize that in this day and age it’s no longer hard to meet gay men in the current society, that we can in fact do it very well ourselves.”

It might seem out of the ordinary to have this pointed out. People do not always catch what they say and presume that it’s all fine. But, think about this: random comments that people make can mistakenly contribute to the growing number of stereotypes of gay men. I’m not going to make any stereotypical questions of straight people, because they hardly exist, but I know it would just be annoying if you were being asked those same sort of things constantly.

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