As a gay man, the majority of friends I’ve had throughout my life have been women, and most of them are straight. I spent my primary and secondary school lunchtimes with them, my birthday celebrations were – and still are – an all-female affair (with the exception of my boyfriend), and I even have a tattoo dedicated to the special bond I have with the women in my life.
I’ve always felt an affinity with women, and I find it far easier to build relationships with them than I do with straight men. But since I came out at 16, a common accusation has cropped up again and again, and it’s always coming from a straight man: I’m ‘faking’ my sexuality, and I actually fancy my female friends.
The first time I can remember it happening was just before we went on a girl’s holiday when I was 18, with a friend of a friend joking: “I bet Jordan’s actually straight and loves the idea of sharing a hotel room with two girls!” I laughed at it the first few times, but it got more serious – and annoying – as my friends got into relationships.
One boyfriend (now an ex, thankfully) had convinced himself that I was straight and trying to make a move on his girlfriend, despite my glaringly obvious flamboyance, the fact I’d told him about past men I’d been with, and my obsession with Britney Spears. He’d constantly question me, he questioned her, and he even kicked up a fuss when we posted photos on social media together.
Although my friends don’t tend to date fragile men like this anymore, a quick look online – especially on TikTok – reveals that being treated with suspicion by straight men is a shared experience for gay men everywhere.
For 26-year-old Jordie, accusations about his sexuality led to the end of an important friendship. A singer, dancer and actor, he met his friend Tara* on a project in 2014 and they soon became close. “She was the first person I ever came out to when I was 18,” Jordie recalls. “We spent the whole night talking, crying together… It was so affirming and healing. I had never had that connection with someone before – ever.”
Two years later, Jordie met Lucas* at work and introduced him to Tara when the three of them were cast on the same project that winter. “Lucas and I got on really well, I was out as gay and I assumed he believed me, because why wouldn’t he?” Jordie remembers. “I told him all about how Tara was my best friend and how we’d all get on so well together, and within a few days they were dating.” But quickly, things went south.
“It just seemed off… Tara didn’t seem happy, and she became really blunt when she was speaking to me,” he says.
Jordie continues that after a number of arguments, Tara eventually told him that he made Lucas feel uncomfortable. “She said, ‘He can’t shake the feeling that you’re onto us, in a different kind of way’... I was so gobsmacked that I had to laugh out loud.”
“I asked him myself, ‘Do you really think I’m in love with Tara?’ and he replied point blankly saying yes.” Jordie, from South Yorkshire, says that Lucas then began bombarding him with questions, from asking why he’d want to share a bed with Tara if he was gay and why he liked spending so much time with someone who’s in a relationship.
“Tara didn’t refute anything he said which really hurt me, so I thought it’d be better to leave them to each other,” Jordie says.
While Jordie hasn’t spoken to either of the couple – who are due to get married soon – since, he says the experience has impacted the way he makes friends. “It was all just really demeaning… It’s massively affected how I’m able to conduct friendships with heterosexual people,” he says. “I predominantly steer clear nowadays.”
Dear straight men: stop being so fragile
Jealousy is a disease, and an ugly one at that. The assumption that a man – a gay man – can’t have a platonic relationship with a woman, and must be hiding his romantic intentions is pretty embarrassing. Not only does it speak to the insecurities of the accuser (as well as a clear lack of confidence in their relationship), but it’s a display of fragile masculinity and ultimately undermines the existence of sexualities that don’t fit into the historic heterosexual mould.
Straight men: please stop assuming that every gay man is after your girlfriend. We’re not secretly plotting to whisk them away from you (unless you’re just plain awful) – we just like spending time with them, you know, like how friends do?
But also, straight women, if your boyfriend makes these unfounded assumptions about your gay friends, do us all a favour (in the words of a t-shirt my gay icon was once pictured in): dump him.