Leaving the Lost Boys: A lesbian reflects on her friendships with gay men

Ever since I was 18, I have gravitated towards gay men as friends. As a gay woman, there was ease and understanding I felt around them that was noticeably absent in my other relationships. I tried having straight male friends, but that inevitably became complicated when I didn’t return the feelings that would inexplicably rise to the surface.

After leaving my all-girls high school and stepping onto my college campus, it was as if the ties that bound me to other women in a platonic way somehow stretched themselves thin. Straight girls were my competition for roles (I was a theatre major), and in general, we were mutually wary of one another. I had missed out on the life lessons that other women were taught while attending my very liberal prep school: that other women were not to be trusted. I was one of those women, so I learned to play that game very quickly.

Running into another lesbian on campus was as likely as seeing a unicorn trot across the quad. When I did, friendship wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. So gay men it was. I loved the attention, my special place in their hierarchy. I wasn’t some moony co-ed who secretly hoped for romance while smoking pot and listening to the Rent soundtrack on their dorm room floor. I was an honorary Queen Bee, someone not to be trifled with. My righteous indignation matched theirs. I was special. I was theirs, and they were mine. 

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When we were young and the world was ours, it seemed like there was no difference between us. We all slept around, me with girls, they with boys. We would shoot Captain Morgan and dance all night at gay bars, then wink knowingly at each other at our 8am classes the next day, our hands bearing the same permanent markered X. We went to concerts and sang in the car all the way home. Back then, when we still had them, we talked about our dreams.

Life pulled and pushed us apart over the years: new gigs and girlfriends and growing up. We always found our way back to each other though, even moving in to the same neighborhoods to help soften the blow of the big bad city. It was little things that began to whisper their way into our world. Little things that spoke in hushed tones, of unreturned calls and road trips without me in the backseat. Parties where women are tolerated, but not particularly welcome. I was there, and I wasn’t. I began to feel like I was fading from the picture. While they were there, shirtless and Technicolor, I was Sepia. So I took a step back, accepting my new role as understudy for the frenzied fun that dominated their new lives. We still brunched, me and the beautiful boys hunched over their Bloody Marys. They shared knowing winks from the night before.

So, as if, to provide the yin to their yang, I became even more domesticated. Baking cookies and reading novels. In bed by 11, up by 7 for my daily date with corporate America. While my love for these men never lessened, my expectations did. I was so accustomed to being disappointed, that I never asked anything of them anymore. Then never questioned why, and I baked them brownies for the ferry ride to their weeks in Fire Island. Without me.

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I began to realize that while I had followed the men I loved to this city, I could not follow them into their lives here. My darling Peter Pans, with their receding hairlines and handsome ruddy cheeks. One night, I finally understood, I could no longer be their Wendy. Then again, even Wendy got to go to Neverland.

My life had begun to change in ways that were unimaginable and unexpected. I began using my voice again, and the universe opened itself to me. I met new people. Women, gay and straight, who got me in a way I hadn’t been since I first joined the Lost Boys. Somehow, we had grown in the same ways at the same time. I was no longer left off the list. This time I was throwing the party. Strangers wrote to me, leaving notes of encouragement, offering support. They wanted to know my thoughts on things I hadn’t bothered to speak of in years. I felt a pull, and I popped into a place that fit like it had always been waiting for me.

My love for these men, these boys, is still strong. I love to hear their laughter and feel the shape of them next to me as we walk down the street. Only now, I get to be awash in bright reds and blues as well. I no longer cling to a space in their picture. I have taken my own.