Lesbros: Ben Acker


The trusty website, UrbanDictionary.com, has several definitions for the term lesbro:

1. A man who has more friendships with lesbians than other women or men.

2. The male equivalent of a fag hag.

3. A heterosexual man who is either one or both of the following: a brother to one or more lesbian sisters, or, friends with a disproportionate amount of homosexual women. “Wow, your brother really only hangs out with gay girls, doesn’t he! And you’re a big gay yourself, sister! What a lesbro you’ve got there!”

To us, a lesbro is a little bit of all, but at his core, a lesbro is a male friend to at least one, but possibly several, lesbians. This column shares a little bit about some famous lesbros that we love.

This week’s Lesbro: Ben Acker.

Ben Acker is a Hollywood writer. He wrote a feature called Drones, which was co-directed by Amber Benson and Adam Busch. He writes for an old-time radio play/podcast called The Thrilling Adventure Hour and for the television show Supernatural.

AfterEllen.com: Of the above three definitions of Lesbro, which do you think describes you best?

Ben Acker:
Definition 3, for sure. 3A, specifically.

AE: What is the best thing about your lesbian friend/s?

Are you asking me to generalize? About lesbians? I’m not into that. The best thing about all of my friends is that they are intelligent, interesting, clever charming people who differ from me in great ways and are similar to me in great ways. Funny and cool. Those are my friends. Straight and gay and — I do not think I have bi friends. If you are a friend of mine and you’re a bi, let me know and I’ll make sure to pass that along.

What’s the best thing about one of my lesbian friends? That she is generous of spirit, kind and still sarcastic, and has a limitless appetite for friendship and friends. What’s the best thing about another one? She is a skate punk and bounces through life like a Spaulding ball, she takes what I say about music as The Truth About The World and will argue with me about the pronouns of her community for an hour.

What’s the best thing about another gay lady? She is a powerhouse of an actress and so sharp and present that when she talks to you, she makes you feel like you are a special person in the universe. Another lady is straight up badass cool and rocks out and calls bulls–t on things that are bulls–t and could use a good calling-out.

I am leaving many out. Also, the best thing about these people seems to be more than one thing. Is that a problem?

AE: Do you think that having lesbian friends has anything to do with where you fall on the Kinsey scale?

No. Do you think having Black friends has anything to do with where you fall on the Black scale? I do not like the glibness of that answer. Let me try again.

I think there’s a real answer about having watched Sesame Street as a kid and so the idea of not being friends with someone for an arbitrary reason wouldn’t occur to me. Do you think people are like “We get along. We are pals. Oh wait — you like ladies. We no longer get along. We are not pals”? Maybe they are. That seems pretty dumb.

There [are] concrete reasons to hate people. This one lady at the gas station wanted me to back away from the pump that society dictated I use because she wanted it for herself and was coming from the other direction. I pulled backward and ceded the pump to her. Everyone wins. But did she give me a friendly wave? No. A smile at least? She did not. What did she do, I am certain you are asking. Well, let me tell you: She gave an entitled eye roll at my expense. Like she was saying “I have to think for everyone.” To whom she is attracted doesn’t enter into the equation. That woman is purely and simply a monster. Maybe she’s bi.

AE: Well I ask you that because a lot of times people are attracted to being frineds with people due to similarities and sometimes straight men are not as straight as they appear and maybe. Care to comment on your own sexuality?

It’s awesome. I’m straight and I’m OK with that. One time, I got a haircut at the place where the shampoo involves some really good drawn-out headrubbing. The lovely Amazon transgender person did the headrub and I didn’t enjoy it as much as when the cute purple-hair anime-eyed girl did it. I went crying to a pal about it. The pal was a gay gentleman. Also he is other things, like English and a director — just like in the stereotype about how every single gay dude is English and a director. Perhaps I will say what his best qualities are on another website or if it comes up later in this interview.

Anyway, I was like “I might be a little homophobic! I didn’t dig this headrub.” And he said “That doesn’t mean you’re homophobic. It means you’re straight.”

What was the question? Did I answer it?

AE: What stereotype about lesbians have you found to be false?

That they’re all named Sherry. I only know one lesbian named Sherry. She’s great. If you get the opportunity to meet her, do it. You will not regret it.

Another stereotype is that they are all in bands. That’s just bonkers! Only some of them are in bands, just like regular people! Do you get the message, lesbian stereotypers? Not all lesbians are named Sherry and not all lesbians are in bands! Get it through your bigoty heads once and for all!

AE: What do you think it is specifically that draws you towards being friends with lesbians?

All of the friendships with lesbians with whom I am friends began with an instant easy rapport. The feeling that we’re in a cool kids club and that we’re full of quick affection for each other. My resistance to generalizations has been eroded by your questions. It’s not entirely true, what I said just now about instant easy rapports. There are some exceptions. There are some introverted lesbians with whom I have had eventual rapports. Some lesbians I didn’t meet, wasn’t drawn towards. Peripheral lesbians with whom I am not friends. But it is easier to generalize and you seem to insist upon it. So. Let’s stick with that first thing I said, OK? Instant. Easy. Rapport.

AE: How have your girlfriends responded to your friendships with lesbians?

My girlfriends, like my lesbian friends, and like my regular person friends or my gay male friends who are all English directors do not seem to give a care in either direction. No girlfriend has said “gross” about it. No girlfriend has ever said “OK, good, now I for-real like you.”

AE: Kirsten Vangsness is an out and proud lesbian, who has been cast regularly in your theatre show, Thrilling Adventure Hour. is she perhaps one of your lesbian friends that you were speaking of in question 2?


AE: How did you two meet and start working together?

It must have been through Paget Brewster, who is a regular both in my theatre show, The Thrilling Adventure Hour (a staged production in the style of old time radio, now a free podcast on iTunes) and on Criminal Minds (a TV show) with Kirsten. As I recall, Paget mentioned that Kirsten would be a great fit in the show and then we put her in it, because Paget tends to be right about things. And she was right about Kirsten. Watching her act, live in person, it’s amazing. It’s like watching a ninja do ninja things. And not just some ninja. Like a ninja that the other ninjas nudge each other and go “Check out that ninja.” She’s just so cool.

AE: You write for television and I have heard of some actors staying in the closet for fear that they won’t get cast. What is your opinion on that?

Well, operating out of fear is a sh—y way to live and a sh—y way to feel like you have to live. I’m not gonna judge anybody in whose shoes I haven’t walked.

That said, I used to think that one’s sexuality is nobody’s business and if you wanna be in a closet, that’s your decision. But then another of my pals from question number two explained why it’s a drag for gay celebrities to be closeted. To stay closeted validates the position that it being out is something of which to be ashamed and that’s not cool. I thought we were past the kind of dumb prejudice that’d make people think anyone cares about anyone else’s sexuality; like as a society in 2011. But I was told that we’re not. So that sucks.

Based on my experience in TV, there’s way sillier factors that go into whether someone is cast than with whom they want to sleep. Based on my experience being scared of things, logic doesn’t enter into it. Based on my experience being brave, it isn’t brave if you aren’t scared. Based on my experience trying to get a job, anything one can do to get the job that might be helpful is worth considering.

So what’s my opinion? It sucks that it’s an issue. I’m not gonna tell anyone how to live, but if I were to, I’d say this “Come on out. It’s the right thing to do.”

AE: You know we still live in a country where it is illegal to marry the same sex which I think is part of the reason there is still shame and fear to come out. Do you think it is important to raise awareness through the media and your writing in particular?

To see the writing I’ve done directly to raise awareness on that, check out my dated Prop 8 series of PSAs. The short answer is, sure, it’s important to raise awareness through media — media is one of the top ways to raise awareness. The situation is bonkers and something should be done. In my writing in particular, it’s less important, as I don’t have that kind of cultural reach.

With great power comes great responsibility. George Washington said that. And I do not have great power.

Follow Ben on Twitter @BnAcker.

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