‘Which one is the man and which one is the woman?’ just isn’t cool, says The Guyliner
It’s the 21st century, so there’s a very, very good chance you already have at least one gay friend in your circle – but how do you talk to these most precious and rare of beasts? Will they still understand your banter? Does your chitchat have to be a no-fun zone, packed with PC platitudes and virtue signalling? Well, no, of course not. But if you’re going to be getting tanked up with your ‘mo mates, it might be worth remembering there are some subjects that might make them a little… prickly.
Which one is the man and which one is the woman?
If being a gay guy around straight men has taught me anything, it’s that they’re all secretly fascinated by gay sex. Usually this curiosity manifests itself in fear or suspicion that they’ll catch whatever mythical illness it is that makes you want gay sex, but occasionally straight guys will go on a fact-finding mission. The detailed machinations seemingly beyond them, one of the first questions they’ll ask – and usually the deepest level they’re prepared to go to – is who plays at being man and who is the woman. It’s like the only way they can process what happens is to apply it to what they do. The thing is, when two gay men are doing it, there is no woman present – that’s generally the whole point of it, to be honest – so this doesn’t really make sense. Also, it’s not particularly appropriate to ask anyone what they do in the sack, let alone when you’re steamrolling in there with your clumsy comparisons. Get a gay man drunk enough and he’ll tell you what they get up to. Just don’t wince when he does. We literally get to hear about your ins and outs all the time; your turn now.
When did you first decide you were gay?
It was a beautiful day, a proud day. I’d spent quite a long time planning it all, making sure I’d got everything just right. I scanned hundreds of brochures, tried on a variety of outfits, and listened to mixtapes of Ocean Colour Scene, Kylie, Madonna, PJ Harvey, Guns N Roses and Will Young – just to make sure this was what I wanted. And then I made the decision and my life changed for ever. OK, OK, you’re trying to show an interest, but very few people actually “decide” to be gay. It can be a long drawn-out process marked with self-doubt, worry and disastrous experimentation.
But don’t get the idea that it’s a touchy subject or we don’t want to talk about it. We do, even years after coming out, and most of us will be pleased a straight guy is interested in hearing it, because historically it’s been the opposite. “When did you first realise?” or “What was it like growing up gay?” might be better ways to put it. Calling our gayness a “lifestyle choice” might seem innocuous but it’s an old stealth insult used by terrible old homophobes who like to think gay people are taking over the world and are just being gay to annoy everyone. No.
Do you fancy me?
We’re not dead inside. We may have idly wondered what you might be like with no clothes on and maybe we’ve had an awkward dream about you. But the idea we’re panting and pining over you in the hope that one day you’ll clear your throat, tell us you’ve got something you always wanted to say, and then touch our bare knee – because suddenly we’re in sports gear in some locker room we’ve never seen before and oh wow it’s just like all the movies said it would be – is, frankly, way off the mark. Any man-crush we may have been harbouring vanished the first time we saw you light your own farts or cry because you lost a life on Super Mario.
Can we go to a gay club? I’m dying to know what it’s like
You’re our straight friend and we know you’re brilliant – that’s why we’re friends with you – and we know you’d enjoy yourself and be totally respectful but, and here’s the thing, everyone else in the bar or club doesn’t. They don’t know you and they don’t particularly care, but once you get too many straight guys in a gay venue, the vibe changes and the LGBT+ lot (that’s us) start getting a bit edgy that we can’t be ourselves, that we’re kind of an exhibit for your amusement. So it’s probably going to be a no for now, unless we can sneak you in somewhere relatively anonymously. Sometimes they might make you snog a man to prove you’re gay so you can get in, by the way, and we’re not offering. Don’t get mad this is closed off to you – practically the entire world welcomes you wherever you go. Let us have this.
No offence, but…
As far as I know, preceding something heinous or offensive or homophobic with “no offence” doesn’t stand up in a court of law. There is, apparently, no guarantee available to make sure whoever you’re saying this to won’t be offended. You’re right: life is unfair.
I can’t say anything these days
We live in cautious times, where many are afraid to be lighthearted or risqué in case it offends someone. We don’t want to be the killjoys in any situation, and you forcibly checking your own behaviour and sitting in furious silence because you can’t let rip is sometimes more uncomfortable for us than hearing a few poof jokes. Know your audience, be sensitive if there’s someone new and, generally, take the lead from us. We spent most of our formative years trying to laugh our way out of awkward situations, so we know how to take the piss out of ourselves – just make sure we get to set the tone. And if you really want to say a certain word or talk in a particular way and feel vexed that you can’t “be yourself”, ask yourself a couple of questions: why would you want to say it in the first place, and is this really the “yourself” you want to be?
I’ll kiss you for a dare
Don’t f*ck with us. Don’t use our sexuality as something for your own amusement, our emotions a toy for you to play with and then toss aside, like they’re meaningless. Gay men want to kiss men who are interested in them, who want our precious and passionate snogs – not guys who want to show how “cool they are with the gay thing” or how much of a man they are. If you’re that cool with it, then treat us with respect and acknowledge the fact that if we were to kiss another gay guy in public we could expect, at the very least, some verbal abuse or rancid leering from people who didn’t approve. Like the toilets in The Ivy, our tongues are for customers only – fire up Grindr if you’re determined to snog a stranger.
I hope you’re not going to try it on with me
Maaaaaate, why would we waste all this effort trying to chase after you and recruit you to our cause when there are plenty of gay men out there we wouldn’t have to try anywhere near as hard with? Gay hookup apps have rendered lusting after our straight mates all but obsolete. Seriously, we can’t even be bothered to wank over you any more. Team Straight has nothing to fear – unless you want to star in our new webcam series.
That’s so gay
When you’re using “gay” as an insult, or to describe something as inferior you are, whether you realise it or not, saying that gayness itself is equally inferior. Imagine if your name were Alex and overnight, whenever someone wanted to mock a thing, or signify that it was second-rate, they said it was “so Alex”. You might laugh it off for a bit, but if it carried on, you’d eventually feel like shit, wouldn’t you, Alex? So typical of you, Alex. What a load of Alex. If some of your gay mates use “gay” in this way, that’s very unfortunate for them and everyone else, and they should probably have a think about that – but, either way, it doesn’t mean you can.
I know a gay guy who’d be perfect for you
This is very kind of you, but gay people don’t automatically like each other. In fact, spend a good 20 minutes in a gay bar and you’ll see the reality is quite the reverse. Leave the matchmaking to characters in Jane Austen novels. We’ve probably already shagged him anyway, tbh.
Can you get me some drugs?
When are you getting married?
Just because we can, doesn’t mean we want to. Anyway, your lot have booked up all the best venues years in advance, so we’ll just come to your wedding and get drunk without all the responsibility, if it’s all the same to you.
You can’t tell you’re gay!
When straight people say this to gay people it’s meant to be a compliment, but if you stop and think about it, why is the ability to “pass” as a straight person supposed to be such an honour? Why should we be pleased you didn’t notice? It suggests we should act a certain way so that you can tell us apart from everyone else. It exposes that you have a very stereotypical way of thinking about gay people. And it also hints that our behaviour is all about pleasing, or deceiving you. You can’t tell we’re gay? That’s because you’ve never seen us suck a dick. Are you offering?
- Things you should never say to your gay mates, GQ, 7 September 2016, by Justin Myers https://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/gay-pride-respect