So I’ve been wondering about this for a while: Do gays and lesbians really not get along? If so, why? My guy friend says he thinks the reason is that lesbians take everything seriously while gay men take nothing seriously. Clearly this isn’t the case, if you’re an avid AfterEllen reader like I am. So what’s your take on this “battle”?– Switzerland
Anna says: The short answer is: Of course gays and lesbians get along! We are all beautiful rainbow snowflakes who unite under the same umbrella of homophobia, camaraderie, discrimination, and Bravo TV shows.
The shorter answer is: It’s complicated.
The long answer is: It varies from person to person. There are, of course, some lesbians who only hang out with gay men, and vice versa. There are others who pretty much only sojourn with straights. There are some lesbians and gays who only parlay with those who who like to taste their particular slice of the rainbow, and on and on. I personally don’t count many gay men in my inner circle, though many are bisexual in some capacity. Gays and lesbians, especially in larger cities, can exist in pretty separate spheres when it comes to bars, entertainment, music taste, brunch places, and other social avenues. Other reasons why Gs and Ls might not be BFFs have to do with generalizations, but just for fun, let’s take a dip into the stereotype pool.
Lesbians tend to be in long-term partnerships and nest and never go out. Gays form partnerships too, of course, but still like to slut it up and party.
Gays sleep with their exes and friends’ exes and don’t blink an eye. Lesbians do the same, but freak out about it and process until they are 40.
Lesbians are serious and have no sense of humor and eat cruelty-free tofu. Gays are frivolous and narcissistic and eat catered sashimi.
If you love playing softball and attending rallies to save the elephants, you’re probably gonna have a dykey crew. If you’d rather spend your time comparing tapestry samples and drinking Sparks, you’ll probably have more gay friends.
At the end of the day, sharing a slot on the LGBTQQIA acronym does not a friendship make. According to some studies, good friends are often those whom we cross paths with regularly, such as coworkers, classmates, and people we run into often. If you don’t have a similar schedule or activity calendar with someone, even if you like them a lot, they probably won’t cross over into the realm of best friendom.
Also, according to social psychologists at the University of Puget Sound, another component to becoming besties with someone may trump regularity and intimacy: social identity support, or “the way in which a friend understands, and then supports, our sense of self in society or the group.” If you view yourself as a lesbian first and a book lover only twice a month at a book group, your best friend is likely to be another lesbian because she supports your primary social identity, which differs from your personal identity, such as where you grew up or went to school or what kind of cupcakes you like. “Our social identity might relate to our religion, our ethnic group, our social role, or even membership in a special club.”
Friendship is complex, and I think the reason there’s not more friend overlap between Ls and Gs is due to circumstance and social identity rather than to stereotypes, or a genuine dislike of one another.
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.