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How Do You Deal With Being A Gay Woman With Straight Friends?

A reader is having an issue with her friend’s hypocritical reactions at the bar. What would you do?
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Dear KitschMix,

My best friend is STRAIGHT!!! She’s a very pretty girl, very smart, and very funny. She’s the woman every man wants to get with.

When we go out we’re usually in straight clubs, around straight people or drunk-ass girls who want to experiment, but hardly EVER any LESBIANS!! She gets a LOT of male attention, and with that comes attention for ME. But it’s always COMPLETELY unwarranted. I never make it seem like I’m interested in ANY guys. Not even the SLIGHTEST.

I often get so uncomfortable that most of the times I just go stand by myself in a corner and awkwardly dance to music wishing that I could leave. Despite this I never complain to her. I let me friend enjoy the attention she gets, and get on with the night

However, the other night, we went to the club and things were reversed. I had a couple of women come up to me tipsy flirting & mingling and whatnot. My friend wandered off, the same way that I do, but she soon came back, annoyed, irritated and complaining. I tried not to let it bother me but it did.

She made the people I was talk to very uncomfortable, and totally messed up my night. When I talked to her about it she brushed it off. We’ve been good friends for years but at this point I’m just OVER IT. I can’t understand why she had such an issue.

Well, reader, let me start by saying: The problem here isn’t that your friend is straight, it’s that she’s unfair. I’ve had this happen with my gay friends, my straight friends, and even my girlfriends. (One time, I was accompanied to the gay bar by a straight male friend – I know, not a great idea – and he was actually upset that I was getting more female attention than him… Like, sir, do you know where you are right now? Anyway… This isn’t about him, this is about your friend.)

I’d also like to state that your friend isn’t responsible for the male attention you receive when you go out. In any bars, there’s a general preconception that anyone there is “fair game”, so to speak. This isn’t exactly a fair assumption, but I have noticed that it happens a lot. There are some men who see a woman showing zero interest as a sign that she’s “hard to get”. I don’t like this in the least, but I also don’t think it’s going anywhere. (Then again, I’m the type who somehow attracts the straight guys at the gay bar even – totally how I met the friend mentioned above, actually.)

Can I give you a metaphorical pat on the back for not complaining to your friend? As I’ve said, it’s not your friend’s fault, so as easy as it could be to “blame” her, it’s great that you don’t. It’s also pretty messed up that she seems to blame you when the shoe is on the other foot.

Let me be very clear, again: This has nothing to do with her being straight. She might be completely unaware of how you feel about this new reversal, since (as you said) you don’t complain or anything when it happens to you. Some people are, unfortunately, blind to how others are affected by a situation, and rely solely on personal experience. I recommend you try explaining it to her as follows:

I know the other night at the bar wasn’t so great for you, but the reality is, it’s always like that for me. But I don’t complain about it because I know you’re having a good time. Now that you’ve seen things from my perspective, could you try to notice when I’m feeling uncomfortable when we’re out together?

Of course, you’ll need to adjust this to suit your needs (and so it feels less scripted, I suppose). You’ll want to touch on how you can relate to how she was feeling that night, and also point out that she’s being unfair to you if she expects you to put up with the same sort of thing she can’t put up with herself.

This is a generalization, though – it is entirely possible that she’s completely unaware that you’ve even been in this situation. As you said, you get attention when you go out together, although it’s not the attention you want. I’ve found that those who identify as straight – particularly those who are “gay friendly” but not exactly the best allies – don’t understand the difference between “flattering attention” and “wanted attention”. I’ve had a number of straight friends tell me that I should “feel flattered” when straight guys relentlessly hit on me in bars… And that I should take it as a compliment when these guys are being downright creepy.

In the end, though, the difference between romantic and creepy lies largely in whether or not you find the person attractive – so someone who is “gay friendly” could be flattered by being hit on by the same sex, and assume that you feel the same way. In some cases, all that’s necessary is a reminder that this isn’t automatically the case.

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Barbara is a 26-year-old lesbian living in California with her partner (and their “fur babies” - an adorably chubby puppy named Porkchop and a ball python named Ru). In the spare time she pretends to have, she enjoys horror movies, music of all varieties, reading, and complaining about the weather.

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