I don’t know what to do about making friends with gay people. I have been a lesbian for 11 years but am not out. Quite a few people know but way more DON’T know. I know of quite a few lesbians, friends of friends, and what not. When I try to reach out, mention hanging out, similar interests, etc. they are always nice but then it stops there. None of them know I am a lesbian (except maybe one after a road trip we went on and I kept playing Macklemore, Tegan and Sara, and Melissa Etheridge) and as bad as I want to be friends with them, open up to them and everything, none of them are having ANY of it. We hang out with similar people but yet they basically don’t give me the time of day.
To be clear, they are very friendly girls but I think they just have no idea I am gay because I don’t really look like it at all and I hang out with a bunch of straight girls who talk about guys or who are married and have children. The other thing is I am worried if I try TOO hard they will think I am hitting on them (all of them have girlfriends). I live in a small city where everyone knows everyone and there isn’t much of an LGBT group. Most lesbians around here are either too young or too old for me. It’s just so frustrating that I try to be friends with these girls, who are around my age (24). We play sports together, hang out in the same groups, go to the same concerts, but they just won’t go for it. I NEED HELP. I am really wanting gay friends, people I can relate to and talk to about this stuff.—Sad in Saskatchewan
Anna says: Come out, SIS! Not to the world, if you’re not comfortable with that, but at the very least come out to the lesbians you hang out with but aren’t exactly friends with (I admit I’m a little confused by your precise social situation). Coming out to other lesbians is the easiest coming out of all, I assure you. And unless they are all big narcissists, they won’t assume that you’re hitting on them simply because you like vaginas.
I’ll make it even easier. Just come out to the one lesbian you think you’d get along with most, and start from there. Go up to her after rugby practice or whatever and be like, “Hey, you seem awesome. I’m looking for new friends at the moment and would be stoked to get together sometime and rank Tegan and Sara’s hairstyles throughout the years (or equivalent activity).” When you’re hanging out, just drop a gay reference into the conversation. “My ex-girlfriend was always on Team Mullet.” And voila, you’ll have come out to your new gay friend.
When you say they “just won’t go for it,” do you mean they aren’t going out of their way to invite you to their Glee-watching parties? Or are you asking them to have frappuccinos with you and they are declining your offers? My guess is it’s the former, and that you might have to put yourself out on a limb in order to get the ball rolling. Sometimes we have to put forth a little extra effort at the start of a new friendship. It’s also possible that your social cues have been too subtle, hence being direct will work best in your favor.
If, however, you are being direct and getting rebuffed, then it might be that you just don’t click with your small circle of lesbian acquaintances, and you’ll need to cast the net wider. Remember too that while gay friends are awesome, sharing a sexual orientation isn’t a necessary prerequisite for BFFdom. In that vein, look for people that share your common interests, are open-minded, and get you. Most of my good friends are straight (or bi), and while it’s true that they don’t always get my L Word references, their sexuality hasn’t greatly impacted our ability to play Words With Friends.
AfterEllen readers, how have you gone about making gay friends? Do you have strategies? Meeting places? Platonic pick-up lines? Share your experiences in the comments.
Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your The Hook Up questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.