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15 July 2010, 10:00 am No Comments

Co będzie Twoją przygodą?: WTF is a GBF?

This post was submitted by Jude

Photo by Guillermo Riveros

From the series "I'll Be Your Mirror"

WTF is a GBF?

Just last week, Teen Vogue published a piece on the new must-have accessory of the season: a gay best friend. Or, as it would read in a text message, a GBF. I’ll admit I’m not as well-versed in adolescent fashion magazines as I once was, but when did Teen Vogue start doing satire?

There is no doubt that gay boys and straight girls have a long, beautiful, dramatic history together. I recently wrote about their cohabitating in New York City here. And while this article hints at the progression of gay visibility in the media over the past decade (from Will & Grace to Glee!), it’s too short-sighted and antiquated to be taken seriously. Right?

I’m trying to convince myself that the girls interviewed for this article are just as fabricated as their quotes sound:  “‘A few years ago, all the popular, pretty girls were walking hand-in-hand with a preppy jock,’ Mimi, a California high school student says. ‘Now you’ll see them in hallways with a Mulberry bag on one arm and a Johnny Weir look-alike on the other.’ She says one girl at her school even recently tweeted: ‘OMG, watching Glee makes me wish I had a guy like Kurt in my life.’”

The author consults a shrink to explain this new phenomenon: “Reasons that the straight girl-gay guy relationship works so well both on- and offscreen can range drastically. But according to Jennifer Gray, Ph.D., a New York City psychologist who focuses on issues pertaining to human sexuality, it’s hard to find a female high school or college student who hasn’t experienced drama with a frenemy at one point or another. ‘Friendships between girls are often fraught with competition, whether it’s over looks, weight, boyfriends, or clothes,’ she explains. ‘But there is little underlying competition between young women and gay guys, which can often make for a stronger, more trusting relationship.’”

During the summer before we started junior high school, my friend Julie threw a big party at her house and invited kids from all the other elementary schools we’d be joining there. I wasn’t good friends with many boys from my school, and it didn’t seem like I would be getting along with any of the new boys either. Behind Julie’s house is a vast expanse of anthracite peaks we called “The Moon,” where tweens like us drank Keystone Light or gave handjobs or received ATV injuries. When Julie’s party moved toward the lawless landscape of The Moon, one girl from the other school lagged behind with me, reluctant to step off the grass. Her name was Emily, and she was wearing the most pristine pair of white sandals. “I don’t really want to get dirty either,” I told her. We paired up for every single English project throughout junior high school. And we live within walking distance of each other today.

“Maggie, a seventeen-year-old Bostonian, found that since becoming so close to her GBF, she spends less time with her straight guy friends. ‘It’s nice because I don’t have to stress about Kevin developing feelings for me,’ she says. ‘Pretty much every time I’ve formed a bond with a straight guy, he ended up being attracted to me, and I would wind up hurting him when he found out I didn’t feel the same way.’” [Teen Vogue]

My friend Holly was the first person I ever told I was gay. Because I had to. Not long after she received her driver’s license, we took a ride through the country and she admitted to having romantic feelings for me. “But you know I’m queer,” I said.

“You’re WHAT?!” She took her hands off the wheel to fan herself.

After my friend Denzel was held back our junior year of high school, I became the only openly gay student in our class of over four hundred. When I first came out, I remember an overture of whispers following me down the hallway for about a week or so, but there were certainly no girls vying to make me their next Fendi. The friends I had then were the same I had before—people who didn’t give a shit about Fendi bags, let alone treat anybody like one.

One such person was Becky, who lived around the block and drove me to school every day. We cruised around the college campus, playing a game my older brother and his friends played when they drove to school and we sat in the backseat. It was called “Would You Tap That?” and it eventually made coming out to her much easier. The main object of our obsession was a stock boy at the Salvation Army. He wore Dickies®, and listened to The Smiths, and had a jawline like Matt Dillon. We always agreed that if one of us ended up going out with him someday, we would have to share him with the other. Needless to say, I didn’t. And he dumped me after four months, the night before our graduation. But all the while we were together, Becky never once asked me to share him or revealed the tiniest hint of jealousy to me.

Last month, I returned home for my little sister’s high school graduation, six years later. The student population had increased, and so did the number of openly gay students. My sister doesn’t have one GBF in her class—she’s got five or six good friends who happen to be gay. And she doesn’t need any one of them to coordinate with whatever outfit she is wearing that day, save for the kid she went to her prom with.

Teen Vogue presents not only a terrible portrait of young friendship, but an offensive, sweeping generalization to an impressionable audience. There isn’t so much as a mention of gay women, or what great friends lesbians make. The bottom line is that certain people are better suited to be together. This does not exclude those who treat their friends like accessories and those who let their friends treat them like accessories.

This shit is true and you can see for yourself:


by Guillermo Riveros

by Guillermo Riveros

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