Part of being in college is forming a diverse group of friends, and you should count yourself lucky if you’ve gotten to know the LGBT community on your campus. One of the most compelling things I have learned, however, is that everyone is just a little bit prejudiced. It’s true! Even groups that have been typically marginalized by mainstream culture hold prejudice against other people. It’s kind of just how humans are.
Speaking as a member of the LGBT community, it can be frustrating when people that can’t experience my life make assumptions about me and people like me. But, we’re here to talk about what you can do as straight person to support your gay friends. And you can start by immediately ceasing to think the following:
1. We’re “the perfect men”…minus the fact we’re gay
The general public assumes that gay men have it all going on. We dress perfectly, have the best hair and give you all the advice you need in order to be the best you. Furthermore, we’re expected to be incredibly intelligent, talented and ambitious. The obvious problem with all of this is that it is an impossibly high standard. Give your gay friends room to be human, to make mistakes and take advice from you every now and then.
2. We identify with only other gay men and straight women
Yes, I spend a lot of time bonding with my straight girlfriends. They get me! And so do my gay friends, a wonderful group of people who I found during my sophomore year of college. But before all of that, I spent the majority of my time around straight men. Most of my best friends are straight guys, and the same is true for my boyfriend. Even though my gay friends and girlfriends get me in a way that my bros don’t, those are still the type of people that I identify most with. The best time I ever have with my friends is when I can bring all three groups together.
3. We’ve all got a sob story
Now, I would be a complete fool to discount the struggles of quite a few people, including some of my closest friends whose loved ones have chosen to reject them for their sexuality or gender identity. But, there are a handful of LGBT people, including myself, who have been completely accepted by their families and friends. We don’t carry around a lot of baggage, have normal relationships with our boyfriends and are incredibly proud of who we are.
4. We totally get you, girlfriend
This can go for any of your friends, gay or straight, male or female. Don’t assume that if you go to your friends with a problem, they will immediately understand where you are coming from or support you without question. Be the kind of person that is comfortable hearing truths—even hard ones—about yourself from friends. It’ll make your friendship stronger and much more meaningful. Zeroing in on your gay friends: understand that while we do have a lot in common with you as people trying to be taken seriously in the world and trying to find a good guy without sacrificing our own identity, there are some areas where we just can’t relate. Because you’re a girl, and I’m a guy.