Dear Ms. Behavior:
My problem may seem not to be one at all to most people, but it is eating away at me slowly. One of my best friends, an openly-gay and rather-flamboyant man, recently has decided to “turn straight.” He has been dating and sleeping with a woman. He often feels the need to tell me how great the sex is.
My first reaction was to joke with him, in disbelief. But over the past several months, he has dropped out of the gay scene in favor of staying in with his new woman, or going away for romantic weekends with her.
More recently, he has taken offense at my jokes about his “becoming a breeder.” He defends the relationship by saying, “She knows what I’ve done and what I like,” adding, “She likes women also. She’s very open-minded.”
He now expects me to be happy for this new person in his life, but I can’t bring myself to do so. To me, the whole relationship appears to be two desperate individuals getting together as a last resort.
I see my once-independent and confident friend as a person who has chosen to take the easy way out, “settling” for a relationship that requires minimal effort.
Am I wrong to feel this way? Should I just “snap out of it,” and be happy for my friend? Or, do I have the right to want true happiness for him?
I don’t want our friendship to end, but I don’t see much hope if he continues living in a fantasy world where his sexual preference can be switched on and off like a light switch.
—Mr. Reality Check
Dear Mr. Reality Check:
Your surprise seems to indicate that your “flamboyant” friend’s sexual orientation never before seemed fluid, or at least not to you.
So, if he’s a close friend who suddenly is trying to be straight now, aren’t you curious about why?
Because you value your friendship with him, a curious attitude would be the best you can take, as opposed to a judgmental one—“Look at that queen trying to pass himself off as straight!”—or a frightened one—“What if I never get my friend back?” or “OMG, what if I myself wake up someday with a strange and nagging desire to touch female breasts?”
The bottom line is that it is best to ask questions, and try to understand your friend, while saving your judgment for later.
Why do people who have worn tiaras and marched in gay parades suddenly jump the fence?
It happens for a variety of reasons:
(2) Money motivation—e.g., a large homophobic bequest being left only to straight offspring.
(3) Religious beliefs or brainwashing.
(4) A deluded desire to become someone else in time for a significant life milestone or event—e.g., the need to gain approval in time for a reunion or a 40th birthday.
(5) A phase. Or a need to get rid of heterosexual “virginity.”
(6) Youth and fluidity. Younger people don’t pay attention to labels the way that older people do.
(7) Sometimes, gay people find other gays of the opposite gender, and form families or have sexual relationships with them. This is their definition of queer, and it seems to work for them.
(9) Kinkiness. Yes, straight is the new kinky.
(10) Unexpectedly falling in love with an unlikely person—e.g., of the “wrong” gender. Yes, it does happen, though it’s rare.
You’re going through a sense of loss, because your friend, as you once knew him, is gone—at least for now. You can’t just “snap out of it,” or change the way you feel.
But this gives you an opportunity to learn to be a more-supportive friend. Keep in mind that the fat lady hasn’t sung yet.
Meanwhile, we obviously are going to have to tighten the homo borders. Too many people have jumped the fence lately, which must mean a security breach.
Perhaps we should invest in a moat with alligators to keep the gays in, and to keep out those wandering straight people who define themselves as “curious.”
© 2011 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.