Friday 24 November 2017

It's tough being a GBF (gay best friend)

Just because I’m your gay best friend, doesn’t mean I have all the answers, says a frazzled Richard Conway

TOUGH GIG: In TV show
‘Will and Grace’, gay
lawyer Will, was
best friends with Grace,
which meant being her
therapist, stand-in
boyfriend, personal shopper,
shoulder-to-cry-on ...
TOUGH GIG: In TV show ‘Will and Grace’, gay lawyer Will, was best friends with Grace, which meant being her therapist, stand-in boyfriend, personal shopper, shoulder-to-cry-on ...

Richard Conway

'Sassy Gay Friend' is a pretty funny series of YouTube videos by The Second City Network. Rolling-on-the-floor-laughing-your-ass-off funny, in fact. The rub: Shakespeare's Ophelia, Desdemona and Juliet would never have met their tragic fates if they had had a sassy gay friend to help them out.

In the most popular one, Ophelia stands on a bridge, poised to jump to her death in a river. But before she can, her scarf-wearing, angular-faced gay friend pops up: "What are you doing? What, what, what are you doing?" he bellows.

Ophelia, startled, steps back from the edge. "Ophelia so bad for yourself, move away from the water," he quips, glaring at her. "Hamlet loves me no more," she sobs in reply.

Sassy gay friend is not impressed.

"So we kill ourselves? Kill ourselves. This is Hamlet we're talking about, okay. Hamlet. There is something rotten in Denmark, and it's his piss-poor attitude."

"He has been kind of hard to deal with lately," she admits.

"Ophelia, he stabbed your dad through a curtain. So instead of drowning yourself, you're gonna write a sad poem in your journal and move on. PS. This is the best your hair has ever looked."

LOL, as one might say. Of course, sassy gay friend is successful and Ophelia lives to see another day.

Now, you have to see the video to fully appreciate it, but could this guy be any cooler? See how he effortlessly blends literary references with relationship advice, diffusing a serious situation with grace and ease. He talks his friend out of killing herself in about five seconds, and makes her feel stylish in the process.

You go, guy. You're what every girl's sassy gay best friend should be.

I should probably take lessons from him. You see, I too am a gay best friend (more commonly known as a GBF). You know us, everyone knows us. We're the ones who hang around with lots of girls, but aren't romantically interested in any of them. We're usually seen in urban environments and I hear word that we're well-attired.

A lot is expected of us.

As a breed, we are a mix of a psychologist, stylist and relationship counsellor. We are one part empath and one part rationalist. We are gentle yet caustic, caring yet feisty.

We are society's default agony uncles.

It might sound pretty exciting to you. Your friends go to you for advice? How fun. But I have issues with it. To start with, and most importantly, I totally suck at it. Like totally, totally suck. There, I said it. I'm the world's worst gay best friend.

In every possible way. I mean, I'm just dreadful. I'm lazy, get distracted easily, and really don't know how to help, even though I want to.

I'm sort of a geek, really. A geek best friend, if you will. I'm nowhere near as intuitive as the other gay best friends I meet. I like sci-fi and I used to obsessively collect architectural journals. I read books about geography and I often forget to shave.

I'm less of a sassbag, and more of a sap.

It's not that I hate being asked for advice. In fact, it's incredibly flattering. GBFs are obviously trusted and held in high regard. And it's really not great to tell someone who is pouring their heart out to shut up.

And so, much like in some quickly-going-down-the-tubes job interview, I've been winging it for a good while now.

Guy trouble? It's him, not you. Hair issues? You look fine. What looks good on you? Everything.

Are they the right answers? I hope so. Because also, even though I said yes, I really don't know if that particular blouse is one she'll pull in. I'm not straight and have never worn a blouse. So I really am the worst person to ask.

What should she say to a guy she might fancy in the club later? Hello, maybe. And will he think she is easy if she does the chatting up? Er, yes? No? Egad, help me.

But this leads me to my other issue. Is it really my job to be good at all this? If I was as witty as sassy gay friend, I might say something like: "I'm your GBF, girl, not your shrink." I don't assume that my girlfriends will all want to go for coffee, have emotional, deep and meaningfuls, and talk relationships just because I am gay. So why do they assume I want to do it with them?

Or rather, why do they assume I can do it? I'm sorry girls, I'm now saying it quite publicly: I'm not the man for the job. But maybe I can be your GBF emeritus, eternal GBF-elect, or GBF-in-waiting.

Or more simply, I could just be your friend. I know that sounds like something I've read in the assertiveness chapter of a self-help book. But if I could ditch the gay bit -- which seems to just mean 'knows everything' -- and just go with best friend, I'd be pretty happy.

I could be myself a bit more. A guy who would secretly like to be able to wear overalls every day, because clothes shopping makes him want to cry. One who really wants to say, "I haven't got a clue what he'll think," about that sure-to-be-an-asshole-eventually-anyway guy across the bar. A friend who really doesn't know what the hell is going on half the time.

So if any of you are reading this, I hereby resign. I make myself redundant. I'm outta here.

Phew. I'm glad I got that off my chest. And I'm hoping it retrospectively absolves me of responsibility for all past GBF advice. Because I'm scared all of that has sucked.

Actually, I used to get so scared of this that I'd follow up impromptu counselling sessions weeks later, wondering if I'd ruined lives.

Did that "um, treat yourself after this break up and have a few nights out" line send her headlong into a life of alcoholism? Perhaps that advice to stick with a relationship has doomed my other friend to a life of interminable misery.

And, oh God, I bet that weird blue dress thing I said suited her, even though I didn't look at it properly, will make her the laughing stock of the post-party Facebook pictures.

Once a girlfriend asked me if she should break up with someone she had been seeing for a few months. I replied, without ambiguity, that she should. He was no good and should be ditched as quickly as possible. I didn't like him.

Which all sounds decisive and helpful, until you hear that I had been thinking of the wrong guy. A guy she had never dated. She dumped a pretty nice man just after our chat.

So, I'm hoping this very public confession will at least go some way to putting the situation right -- and will bag me a transfer from the gay best friend department, to the best friend department.

And if not, well, you look fantastic sweetie and I can't wait to chat about Saturday's shenanigans over a latte. Sigh. Oh my God, I am going to be in so much trouble.

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