For most gay men, coming out is one of the most important and pivotal events in their lives. Even though this event can be particularly stressful and challenging, gay men may look to women in particular to assist them through this process. Here’s how women can help:
1. Keeping a secret. Even before a gay man comes to terms with his sexual orientation, a female friend is usually the first person to “know”. Similar to a mother in this respect, women are pretty good at noticing certain patterns in a man that do not line up with the stereotypical straight male. Because female friends have this hunch early on, they might be more mindful of the topics that they discuss with their closeted gay friend. Rarely are female friends motivated to “out” their gay friend without their friend’s consent. Genuine female friends allow gay men the time and the space that they need in order to make their cathartic transition.
“Matt probably is gay, but he hadn’t told me. That’s the hard thing: there’s a difference between knowing and ready to embrace it. That’s why I think ‘outing’ is a terrible thing. I don’t think it’s constructive, and it could damage the relationship. I mean if you’re in private and the question comes up you can ask, but I never felt the need to.” (Cathie in Straight Women, Gay Men: Absolutely Fabulous Friendships)1
2.Creating a safe space. When young gay men discover that they like boys, their gut instinct is usually to tell their female friends before anybody else. Gay men know and are somewhat confident that their female friends will be the ones to accept them for who they are regardless of their sexual preference. Also, if gay men notice that their female friends are non-judgmental, accepting, and supportive towards other gay men who are “out,” they may be more willing to come out themselves.
3.Being proponents. On average, women’s attitudes towards gay men are much more positive than straight men’s attitudes2. Not only that, but straight women seem to prioritize helping their gay friends through the coming out process. Some women may be passive, sympathetic observers for their gay friends, but others may actively support their gay friends through their transition. However, this is not to say that women “force” their gay friends out of the closet; rather, many women encourage their gay friends to be who they are. If gay men know they have a supportive friend and ally through their transition, they may be more willing to come to terms with their sexuality and make friends with other LGBT individuals.
1. Hopcke, R. H. & Rafaty, L. (1999). Straight women, gay men: Absolutely fabulous friendships. Berkeley, California: Wildcat Canyon Press.
2. Herek, G. M. (1988). Heterosexuals’ attitudes towards lesbians and gay men: Correlates and gender differences. Journal of Sex Research, 25, 451-477.
Many gay men have great female friends, but the female that has been with them since the very beginning has been their mother. While being careful of the stereotype that gay men and their mothers always have a bubbly relationship, gay men tend to have very close relationships with their mothers. This may because mothers are generally more accepting of their son’s sexuality. This may in turn create a sense of heightened closeness between gay men and their mothers over time.
Michael LaSala, a psychologist at Rutgers University and author of the book, “Coming Out, Coming Home: Helping Families Adjust to a Gay or Lesbian Child,” discusses the closeness between mothers and their gay sons in his review on Psychology Today. One of the things he suggests is that gay men are closer to their mothers because gay men have many shared interests with their mothers, and gay men are more sensitive to their mother’s feelings. Do you agree?
One interesting thing about straight women and gay men is their mutual attraction to the same gender. Not do they share an appreciation for attractive men, but they are usually willing to talk about them for hours. When women and gay men get together over coffee, lunch, or dinner, men never seem to get left out of their conversation. While it is true that gay men and straight women can be seen discussing other topics, a great chunk of their time together may be discussing how to snag a guy that they are both checking out.
The Game. For gay men and straight women, one of the more unique and fun aspects about “playing the field” is deciphering the sexual orientation of a cute guy. When an attractive guy passes this couple on the street, you can almost always expect them to ask one another: “Whoa, do you think he’s gay or straight?” This simple question may turn into a little game for gay men and straight women. Although it is not uncommon for gay men to hope that the attractive man in question is homosexual, rarely do gay men impinge on their female friend’s romantic opportunity if the male in question is in fact heterosexual. The reverse is also true. Females usually do not encroach on their gay friend’s romantic opportunity with another gay man. In fact, women may find joy in being able to set up their gay friend with another gay man who is attractive1.
“When we walk down the street together, a gay friend will often say, ‘Oh, that guy was checking you out,’ and I’ll say, ‘No, I think he was looking at you,’ and we’ll both walk away feeling better about ourselves.” (Hopcke & Rafaty, 1999)
Hating the Player and Not the Game. Even though this game can easily be played between two gay men (which is done pretty frequently), a couple of complications may arise. First, gay men may take the game too competitively with other gay men. Imagine an attractive man walking past two single gay friends at the mall. Naturally, both gay men may lock their eyes on him. However, rather than mutually expressing their attraction to this man to each other, one of them may hold back while the other might insinuate asking him out. This may become problematic if both gay men desire this particular man.
Second, gay men may experience hints of jealousy when they play the game with one another. Because gay men’s mating opportunities are quite limited compared to straight men’s mating opportunities2, gay men may place exceptionally high value on an attractive guy, especially if they are attractive themselves. If one gay friend is slightly more attractive than the other, the gay friend that is more attractive may have a better chance at “winning” the game. Ultimately, this may cause a sense of tension and jealousy between these two gay men.
Hopcke, R. H. & Rafaty, L. (1999). Straight women, gay men: Absolutely fabulous friendships. Berkeley, California: Wildcat Canyon Press.
Russell, E.M., DelPriore, D. J., Butterfield, M. E., & Hill, S. E. (2013). Friends with benefits, but without the sex: Straight women and gay men exchange trustworthy mating advice. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 132-147.
Nowadays, most people you know have tried either online dating or meeting new friends online from one site or another. Many times, the first time the two people meet in person, it goes great and they become great friends or start dating immediately. But, other times, unfortunately, the meeting is either unfit or over time the two realize they are not meant to date or be close friends—and soon grow apart. Or, even worse, they meet only once to never see each other again.
And if you happen to ask anyone who’s gone through any of these online-meeting scenarios, whether it was meeting someone for a romantic relationship or just a platonic friendship, the guaranteed first thing they’ll tell you is they were nervous to meet their online companion in person.
So if you’ve found your online male or female friend on FruitLooped, or you happen to be going on a first date with someone from an online dating site, the best thing you can do is prepare yourself for meeting someone online for the first time in person with these helpful tips from us! You’re welcome.
Tell a Friend Where You’re Going:
When meeting someone you’ve never met before, you should always tell a friend or family member where you’re going, who you’re meeting, and what time you’ll be meeting them. This way, someone knows your whereabouts and can check up on you if needed. Plus, if the person you’re meeting isn’t up to par with who you were expecting, then you can have your friend call you so you can bail!
Make Sure Your Phone is Charged:
This is kind of a no brainer, but so many people forget to charge their phone, bring it with half a battery life, and watch it plummet to 1%, and then turn off during drinks or dinner. You don’t want this to be you. In case of an emergency situation where you need your phone to catch an Uber or call a friend or family member for safety, you don’t want to be left asking random people to use their cell.
Keep Your First Meeting Short:
Whether this person is a potential lover, or just a new friend, it’s best to schedule the first time you hangout short. Try to meet them for lunch or for a quick bite in the early evening. Better to keep it to a minimum of one drink or none to stay safe. See if there is a bond between the two of you, whether romantic or platonic, and then tell them you have plans to meet other friends or family so you have a way to leave early. But, if you want to see them again, just make plans with them before you leave so they know you’re not in a rush to get away from them, but that you actually enjoy their company and want to see them again soon.
Check Out Their Social Media:
Social media stalking was given a bad name, but it’s actually quite an advantageous thing to do prior to meeting someone in person for the first time. Just log into your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account to see if they have a page to poke around and check out their photos, posts, and even friends they have. And if their page is private, heck, just send them a text asking them if you can add them if they as a friend. Why would they say no? Actually, if they do say no, then it’s probably a red flag that you shouldn’t meet that person offline in the first place. The wonderful part about everyone having some form of social media nowadays is that you can get to know someone’s personality even before meeting them in person. Just try not to like any of their old photos from four years ago or you’re in for an awkward conversation about why you were cyber stalking them in the first place!
Remember to have fun! And this is a big one. In our modern world of online friends and online dating, it’s all too often that people do not hangout again simply because their mind wasn’t in the right place during their first meeting. The best thing you can do is just relax and enjoy yourself with your new friend or date when meeting them for the first time. Remember, they’ve only just met you, so you want to start your friendship or courtship with your best foot and head forward. So leave any and all thoughts—or baggage—at home where they belong. And remember to leave a tip for your server!
For years, friendships between straight women and gay men have been a subject of pop culture fascination. Books, television shows and feature length films have all highlighted this unique relationship, noted for its closeness and depth.
But with society’s attitudes toward gays and lesbians changing, it’s become all the more important to build a holistic understanding of the relationships between gay and straight people.
As a researcher in social psychology, I’ve often wondered: why do straight female-gay male relationships work so well? Why are straight women so drawn to having gay men as friends? And when do these relationships typically form?
During the course of my research, I’ve discovered that the most interesting, compelling – and, arguably, most theoretically coherent – explanation is through the lens of evolution.
Specifically, I believe evolutionary psychology and human mating can help explain why relationships between straight women and gay men tend to flourish.
A safe bet
At first glance, this explanation may seem quite counterintuitive. (After all, straight women and gay men don’t mate with one another.)
However, this is precisely the reasoning behind my approach. Because gay men don’t mate with women – or compete with them for mates – women feel a certain level of comfort with gay men, and the process of forming a close friendship can occur relatively quickly. With heterosexual men (who, by definition, are sexually attracted to women), the process is longer – and potentially more fraught – because men may be grappling with their own sexual impulses.
In other words, because gay men are attracted to their own gender, they’re a “safe bet” for women – at least, from a sociobiological standpoint.
About three years ago, I initially tested this theory in a series of experiments that have served as the foundation of my research program on gay-straight relationships.
In these experiments, straight female participants were shown fictitious Facebook profiles depicting either a straight woman, straight man or gay man. The female participants were then asked how likely they would be to trust the individual’s dating advice.
I also recruited gay male participants, and had them complete the same task (with the gay men viewing Facebook profiles depicting a straight female, gay male or lesbian female).
The experiments, published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, demonstrated that straight women and gay men perceived one another to be trustworthy sources of relationship and dating advice. In other words, when it came to dating-related matters, there was an almost instantaneous level of implicit trust.
Still, more needed to be done to support the hypothesis.
We titled the four studies “Why (and When) Straight Women Trust Gay Men: Ulterior Mating Motives and Female Competition,” with the hope of better establishing why straight women trust gay men and when straight women would be most likely to seek out gay men for friendship and guidance.
For the first study, I wanted to replicate the finding that women trust gay men more than straight men or straight women. This time, however, I wanted to see if women would only trust gay men’s dating-related advice as opposed to other types of advice.
It turns out straight women only trusted a gay man’s advice about a potential boyfriend more than the same advice from, say, a straight man or another straight woman. In other words, it’s not like straight women totally trusted gay men on all matters. It really only had to do with one thing: dating and relationships.
To further examine why this might be the case, we had women imagine receiving information from either a straight woman, straight man, or a gay man about their physical appearance and the dateability of potential boyfriends. We then asked the women how sincere they felt the responses were.
As expected, the female subjects seemed to perceive the judgments coming from the gay man to be more sincere because they knew that he wouldn’t have any ulterior motives – whether that meant wooing the subject (which they might suspect of straight men) or competing for the same romantic partner (straight women).
For the final two studies, we wanted to figure out when women were most likely to befriend and place their trust in gay men. We predicted that this would most often occur in highly competitive dating environments, where a trustworthy source like a gay friend would be valued by women jockeying with one another for a boyfriend.
To test this, we created a fake news article that detailed extremely skewed sex ratios, indicating that women in college were competing over a very small pool of men. We had women read this news article and then indicate how much they would trust a straight woman or a gay man in various dating-related scenarios.
When women read the news article about the increased competition, their trust in gay men was amplified. Not only were women more apt to trust gay men under this condition, but we also found that they became more willing to make gay male friends.
Beyond dating advice
The downside is that if a straight woman values her gay male friends only for dating advice, the relationship could become quite superficial (see Chris Riotta’s essay “I’m Gay, Not Your Accessory”).
However, the strong trust that women initially form with gay men can serve as a primer; eventually, this trust could extend to other areas, with the friendship blossoming over time.
Other findings – combined with our own – show that there seems to be an extremely strong psychological underpinning for why women are so drawn to gay men.
For instance, a recent study in the Journal of Business and Psychology revealed that straight women tend to hire gay men over other heterosexual individuals because they perceive gay men to be more competent and warmer. Furthermore, marketing researchers have suggested that straight women prefer to work with gay male sales associates over others in consumer retail settings.
These two findings alone could have many positive implications for gay men in the workplace. Because many women seem to value input and contributions of gay men in these settings, it’s likely that we’ll see a more inclusive workplace environment for gay men.
Although much of this research focuses on why women are drawn to friendships with gay men, another obvious avenue of exploration is whether or not gay men are similarly keen to form friendships with straight women.
Unfortunately, there’s been very little research on this. However, it’s possible that gay men connect with straight women for some of the same reasons. For example, in a study I conducted in 2013, I found that gay men also look to women for trustworthy dating advice or tips for finding a prospective boyfriend. Other researchers have suggested that gay men value the positive attitudes towards homosexuality that women tend to have (relative to straight men).
In this case, the implicit trust seems to be a two-way street.