You know, It’s ironic that, with all of the time I spend referencing Friends, I haven’t really written a column about friends. Sure, I’ve made opaque references to my friends’ sexual foibles and fables (note that I said their foibles and fables. I have none; all of my decisions are healthy and perfect), but I haven’t really talked about friendship.
I have written a few times about the inevitable question that arises if you are gay and over 30 (hell over 20): “Why are you single? Aren’t you lonely?” and if you follow my blog (which I’m sure you do) you know that my answer is always “Because I haven’t met the right guy yet… and more than that, I don’t feel incomplete without a partner.” Both of these things are true, but mostly, despite my being ‘out there’ and open and handsome and charming and handsome, the latter is the one that I am focusing on for this column: I don’t feel incomplete without a partner, because I’m not driven to find that one person to share my life with because I am lucky enough to have many friends to share my life with.
This thought was triggered by three separate, but I’m sure cosmically linked, references which all occurred around the same time this week. And I am going to write about all three. But I do recognize that not all of you are “Friends” fans, nor do you have the time to read all of my ramblings. So – I am going to give you a little ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’.
If you are a Friends fan, skip down to number 1. If you’re a die hard Sex and the City fan, skip to number 2. And if you hate both of those, but you love RuPaul (hunty), skip to number 3. And I’ll see you in a minute.
1. FRIENDS: Remember when Crapweasel Paolo made a pass at Phoebe? She wasn’t sure how to tell Rachel so she said this: “There are three things that you should know about me. One: My friends are the most important thing in my life. Two: I never lie. And three: I make the best oatmeal raisin cookies in the world.” Now, though I would kill for an oatmeal raisin cookie right now (I hate that it’s swimsuit season 10 months of the year here in stupid awesome sunny LA), the thing that always sticks out to me is the first part of the quote: “my friends are the most important thing in my life.” I think we, as GLBTQLMNOP folk, can identify with that much more than the general population. Ok – skip down – and we’ll pick up there.
2. SEX IN THE CITY: Remember when Samantha had breast cancer and the Russian kept telling Carrie that Samantha could die and she got super pissed: “Samantha is my friend. She’s my family. My insides. She will be fine because she has to be fine. That’s how important she is to me.” I think we can all (gay, straight or other) recognize we have an active willingness to hold on to a blind spot to the truth when it comes to our friends.
3. RU PAUL’S DRAG RACE: Remember when Roxxxy Andrews (who by the way I love – no one else could do a double wig reveal like she did) had the breakdown and talked about her bus stop abandonment (side note: “Bus Stop Abandonment” sounds like a Coachella act). Ru let her work through it for a minute, and then said something surprisingly profound: “We love you. And you are so welcome here. You know, we as gay people – we get to choose our family, you know? We get to choose the people that we are around. I am your family. We are family here. I love you.” I think we all know that biology can’t always give gay folks the platonic supportive love they need.
Hi – welcome back! Ok, to summarize the three previous points: my friends are my family, and anyone I date has to be awesome enough to pull me away from my amazing and fulfilling relationships with these people I call my friends.
“But Dan – your friends aren’t gonna sleep with you.” And that’s true – I have a very strict no boning my friends policy. (Arguably, they might have the same policy. I’ve never asked. And I’m not gonna.) But sex, to me, isn’t the ultimate goal of a long-term relationship (Though it is a nice little perk. Not that size matters. You’re not little. You’re perfect.) The ultimate goal of a relationship is that you have that one person who knows you better than anyone… a best friend that you share everything with. But see – this begs the question… what if you already have a best friend that you share everything with? I have 3. And I’m single. And so are 2 of my 3 best friends.
Wait – did I just answer my own question? Am I sabotaging my own chances at finding love? Are my platonic relationships so emotionally fulfilling that they are preventing me from finding that one special person because I already have that one (or two or three) special people?
Growing up, I realized I was gay at a very young age (as I’d argue most gay folks do). But in my small town I didn’t see any models of what gay looked like, and I certainly didn’t see any same-sex couples. Add this to the fact that I was an active member of a religion that was all: “Yeah – totally be gay – just don’t like be gay. Like, Christian love and all, but if you touch a penis that isn’t yours, you’re, like, bad.” (Unless you’re a priest, apparently.) So, I grew up as many small-town (and I’d guess big-city) gays do: with the stark realization that finding someone to share my life with was simply not an option. And when you can’t share huge parts of your life with your family, that psychological need to verbalize and express your innermost thoughts goes out in the world, and is picked up by your friends. And very quickly your friends become your family. Add to that the fact that I later in college, I became Johnny College – I did everything. Was it because I loved college? Absolutely. But also because if you’re busy doing everything and running a bunch of student organizations, there’s no ‘time’ for dating. You’re way too busy. (Look this up – there’s quite a bit of research around the fact that GLBT adults were often times overachievers in their youth. I’d bet at least half of you reading this had some sort of leadership position in student government/Greek life/residence life/etc.) And the free time I did have, I would spend with my friends I had from student government/Greek life/residence life/etc talking about student government/Greek life/residence life/etc.
It’s analogous to the reason there’s so many gay ‘nerds’… comic books contain worlds of powerful men with hidden identities. Reading those was an escape; a way of not dealing with the stark, and often dark, reality facing them. (My version of comic books was Stephen Sondheim. You don’t have time to date in high school when you have to learn all the parts in ‘A Weekend In The Country’ just in case you’re called upon to do a one-man staged performance of ‘A Little Night Music’. It could happen – you don’t know!)
Bringing it back to our misfit Phoebe, she had no real family – and until she found true love in the end, she hadn’t really had any serious relationships. I’m thirty…plus, and my longest relationship has been 11 months (the t-shirt thief you’ll remember from previous columns). But Phoebe, like me, was fulfilled by her relationships with her friends. Sure, she had a few interstitial flings here and there, but her world for the most part was dominated by her relationships with her friends. And she was happy. (Huh. My choice of the word ‘dominated’ there is interesting…)
Anyway, my point in all of this, is this: I don’t think I’m sabotaging myself. And I’m never lonely. There’s nothing more important to me than cultivating my relationships with my friends. Sure, perhaps it’s sometimes to the detriment of a romantic liaison or two, but these liaisons are often times just blips on my sexual radar (“Sexual Radar” is opening for “Bus Stop Abandonment” at Coachella, by the way) and at the end of the day/week/month/year, will I really remember my time with them? Someone once said – and I’m paraphrasing: “People rarely remember what you said, but they never forget how you made them feel.” Now, I certainly remember how a few of my liaisons have made me feel (rawr) – but more than that, my friends bring me unbridled, unparalleled joy. I cherish my relationships with them, and will continue to do all I can to be there for them they way they are there for me. I choose them. They are my family. I love them. They are my insides.
My girl Charlotte summed it up best when she said: “Maybe we can be each others soulmates… and then we could let men be just these great nice guys to have fun with.” Preach Charlotte.
(Though I wouldn’t be mad if a super cute, slightly socially awkward guy with a great smile, broad shoulders, with an affinity for napping who respects my decision to always put ‘Jenna von Oy’ in the bowl when we play ‘Celebrity’, and makes the worlds best oatmeal raisin cookies came a-knockin. I’d blow my friends off faster than a hipster can Instagram themselves backstage with “Sexual Radar” #coachella #blessed.)
Dan has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Master’s degree in Higher Education. He worked as an Assistant Dean at Emory University for 5 years before moving to Los Angeles in 2008 to pursue his lifelong dream of writing television. Since then, Dan has written for ‘Make It Or Break It’ (ABC Family), “Pop-Up Video” (VH1), and currently writes for ABC Family’s hit show ‘The Fosters’, and he says he’s going to finish writing his first movie any day now. You can find more at beefinthetrfile.blogspot.com, and you can reach him on Twitter and Instagram at @beefinthetrifle.