Not Your Average Prom Queen: The End of High School Friendships
Everyone was talking excitedly when you came walking over to the buzzing cluster of girls standing close together near the lockers. You hadn’t had a sleepover with Kim, Sara or Patti since you got bumped into honors English and you all didn’t have the same lunch hour, but you were excited to catch up with them between passing periods. When Kim’s eyes, lit with laughter, caught yours as you approached, she grabbed Patti by the hand. You felt the mood change immediately, but didn’t know what to say. Feeling brave, you just came out with it. “Where you guys talking about me?” They weren’t, they told you truthfully. They weren’t talking about you at all; they were talking about the party that you weren’t invited to.
For most of us, if we ever had to endure this devastating realization, it has been more than a decade since. For me? It happened 2 weeks ago; actually three times this summer. Much to my disappointment, there were no lockers around, but Facebook, email and text messages create that same sort of “girls crowded together giggling” ambiance so much so that I feel like I might have 29-11-82 scrawled on the back of my hand with a purple pen. My best girl friends from high school, who’s changing friendships I have always been glad to hold, have not been shy about mentioning their exciting birthday gatherings that I haven’t been invited to.
I’m aware that things are changing between us as they get married, move out of the city, and settle into serious careers. I know this because I’ve attended their wedding showers, bachelorette parties and weddings. In light of those experiences I’m starting to wonder – if I was following the same path, if I was getting married and moving out to the burbs would our friendships have lasted?
Am I now only a wedding guest, like some botox-faced second cousin in an iridescent dress, and not a best friend, 30th birthday party guest?
Has my non-traditional (gay) life trajectory finally split us up?
I’ve spent a lot of time educating and arguing that queer and straight people are the same: that our love and our relationships and our lifestyles are the same. But now I’m wondering if even my best allies believe that. I feel like I’ve gone back to being “other” after so many years of coming closer to feeling like we were all the same. We have never had a serious conversation about this subject, but once, a couple of years ago, one of my best high school friends said she felt like while I was growing distant with her I seemed to only want to hang out with my “gay friends.” While the implication that I’d choose friends based on who they sleep with is ridiculous, I have to wonder now if as the bonds I share with women who are enjoying marriage, the financial stability of a two person household, and children are stretching and thinning, the bonds I share with those in a situation more similar to mine — that is, connected to our sexual orientation– are strengthening. Are my friendships with queer friends still strong because are lives are staying on a similar path?
Can I still maintain friendships with straight women if I don’t get married, move to the suburbs or have children? Is heteronormativity ruining my friendships?
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