Just venting here a little bit, but I was wondering about this ordeal that I as a gay man seem to face. Most of my life my closest friends have predominately been women/girls and have maintained very few platonic relationships with other men. I find it very challenging because although I have had very close sexual relationships with other men I also would feel as though I could benefit from forming close friendships on a platonic level with other men.
I find this challenging because although I do not try to come across as feminine I think most guys I interact with pick up on my sexuality and a lot of times there are immediate barriers that prevent moving past aquintance level to actually being friends. It's hard for me to engage in conversation with other men and half the time they presume I am hitting on them even if I am just trying to make friendly banter. I guess I am not really expecting many answers here, but I am just wondering how many straight men here have gay friends and vice versa. Thanks.
I have been honoured with the friendship of a few gay men, or, as I think of them, men who are gay. I have had one close friend in particular whom I have known since high school, before he knew he was gay. (HIs path to working that ourt was rather funny, even to him, and fortunately free of the pain that many gay men from that era felt in coming to grips with their sexuality) and he is rather feminine in many ways. Perhaps because I have known him for so long, I do not think of him as gay, but as Al. My advice to you, if you wish to have 'friends who are straight, is try and stop thinking of them as straight friends with you as a gay friend, but as friends, and encourage them, if you can, to do the same.
My guess would be that most straight men who have gay friends as adults developed those friendships prior to the gay friend coming out. If there's a pre-existing relationship, then the straight friend pretty much ignores the orientation of his old friend, celebrates the common ground, and moves forward. Without an already-existing relationship, I honestly think that most straight men would need encouragement to realize that there can be plenty of common ground with an already-out man, and just get over it already.
Actually, no. Most of my friends who are gay, were already out when I met them. Now, perhaps, I'm a statistical outlier, but I don't care!
One of my friends is the father in a house of practicing witches. He's invited me to participate, and I've invited him to my church. Our religions just aren't an issue, nor is his bisexuality, or my lack thereof. Heck, our differences are the basis for our friendship! Of course we have some shared interests, and in fact, I just dropped off some bicycles that we can rebuild, at his house, a few nights ago.
You see, it's not someone's sexual orientation that is the primary metric in my definition of friend. Nor their religion, their gender, or any of the other superficial things we so often like to use when putting each other in tidy little boxes.
Friendship involves the whole person, the good, the bad, the funny, the sad...and the ugly. It takes a true friend to accept the ugly. And, I cannot believe that I am alone in that sentiment.
I believe that the hurdles most hetero men find most insurmountable are not necessarily the fact that a friend (current or prospective) may be whether or not their friend is excessively feminine. It's somewhat of a constant reminder that there is a difference (however inconsequential) between their friend and themselves. My two closest friends just so happen to be gay, one female (who i have known since high school, and dated prior to her coming out) and one male (much older than me, and more of a father figure, since he precepted much of my internship and helped me quite a bit). Regardless of the reason, it is petty on the part of those who discriminate in their choice of friends, even if they are not cognizant of it. The concept of traditional manliness (or, more accurately, machismo) is so deeply ingrained that many men who are unable to look past that feel an almost visceral discomfort when around effeminate men (whether they be gay or not). Although such an unconscious behavior is hard to overcome, it is not impossible. It may be easier to overcome in situation where prolonged contact is involved, such as the workplace or a club of some kind. For example, my male friend (and another with whom i am not quite as close; i didnt work with him as often) and i met through a shared profession, namely when i was doing my paramedic internship in school, and later when we trained together for the annual Guns 'N Hoses boxing tournament. It just takes time for people to observe patterns of behavior and realize that a persons' sexuality is only a small part of who they are.
Don't let your sexuality get in the way. Don't let it define you.
A gay man tried to be friends with me once, and for a while we got along pretty well. Ate lunch together, talked about our lives, and said hello to each other when we passed each other. Then politics got in the way and he withdrew his effort on his end of the friendship so it all dried up. Don't let that happen.
From personal experience (not counting the example I just gave), I find it difficult to connect with gay men because oftentimes they come off as too feminine* for my liking and too flamboyantly gay- they can be in your face about their sexuality, which I find majorly annoying. It's almost like the feminist who says "I'm a woman and I'm just as good as you, so treat me like you treat a man! I'm a woman; I can handle it! I have a vagina and I'm proud of that! Hoorah!" (I don't mean to offend women. Hopefully the guys here know the type of woman I'm talking about).
My advice then is twofold: don't let your sexuality define you when trying to make friends, and don't be in-your-face about it.
*By this I mean that they use purses, dress in drag or other feminine clothing, and, as far as I can tell, try to imitate women in general. Not all gay men do this, no. But when a gay man does do this I find it nearly impossible to be friends with him.
Considering your political view point, I'm not surprised nor is it unjustified that he "withdrew his effort on his end of the friendship" as you put it in your tortured attempt at euphemism. Rarely is one friends with those who petition to oppress him.
Without knowing what really happened and what was said between my former friend and I, I would suggest that you refrain from judging me as an "oppressor."
I don't currently have any gay friends I see with any regularity, but have had some especially in the context of ManKind Project (see the AoM group New Warriors); the culture there is very strongly that we aren't changing each other. In the past, I have known gay men who were into me, and wouldn't take no for an answer. Avoiding them was the only way to stop the annoyance. I had one MKP friend that was into me and told me so, but that was the end of it.
Maybe that's what you're running up against: they think you're going to hound them. I don't know how to address it; you can hardly start a conversation with "I'm not into you -- honest!" But I will say this: I think it's great what you're doing, and I wish you the best with it.
Maybe a solution would be to mix in a group of (mostly straight) men. A poker game, a personal growth group, a fraternal organization. Being in a group keeps it light.
I had a close gay friend from high school, but he has passed via auto accident.
The problem I've experienced with gay male friends is once you let them into the inner circle, they'll relax a little too much and speak of things I profoundly do not want to hear about, or get three beers in them and get to touchy/flirty.
They're also usually a lot more obvious about being gay than they admit to being.