How To Be A Straight Woman At Pride Without Being A Dick
The Debrief: Leave the stereotypes at home and remember: it's not all about you...
I never intentionally set out to collect gay best friends, but somehow it just happened: four of my closest friends happen to be gay men. So this weekend's Pride London is naturally a pretty significant date in our group's social calendar – I mean, seriously, what better excuse could there be for a gin-fuelled day and night of dancing to Lady Gaga? Years of experience being dragged (mostly voluntarily) around gay bars has taught me that there really no party like a big gay party.
Despite that, having four gay friends is nothing like the 'gay best friend' stereotypes that American teen movies taught me to expect. There are all sorts of theories about the affinity between gay men and straight women: the lack of competition for other men, that men are meant to be less bitchy than your girlfriends (total lie, by the way), or the fact they're meant to be more in touch with their sensitive side than straight men.
I'm not totally sold on any of these theories, but I can confirm that my gay mates are some of the best friends a girl could ask for. So, in honour of their special day, here's my guide to doing Pride as a straight woman without being a dick about it.
1. It's not about you
I can see why so many women love a gay bar: they play the very best of cheesy pop, and sell drinks so cheap you'll count your change in a state of shock and disbelief. Not only that, but you're far less likely to feel self-conscious or have to deal with creepy straight guys feeling you up. Pride is no exception to these rules, but obviously, don't be a dick and abuse this haven of cheesy, creep-free fun. Pride is for LGBT people and their guests – and drunk straight girls wanting to be the centre of attention are not very well received. You can share pitchers of day-glo booze with your gay mates, but you don’t share certain struggles about sexuality that Pride is there to squash. Remember it's not about you, and just enjoy.
2. Dress for comfort
One of the weirdest pop culture tropes is the GBF as an ideal shopping partner, who's always snappily dressed and happy to spend hours carrying your handbag round changing rooms, 'oohing' and 'ahhing' while you try on outfit after outfit, like your own personal Gok Wan. In reality, I've only ever been clothes shopping with a GBF once, six years ago – we settled for the first dress I tried on. Gay men's fashion sense ranges – just like everybody else’s - from 'fabulous darling' to 'I woke up like this'. That said, they're still far more interested in what they and each other look like than what you look like (see point 1). So if you're heading to Pride, dress for comfort – you can thank me later.– your mates won’t instantly have sympathy for your aching feet, so seriously: just wear flats.
3. Don't say stupid shit
One of my friends and his date were recently approached by a straight woman in a gay bar, who insisted on telling them (repeatedly) how cute they were together. As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn't say it to a random straight couple you saw on a first date, don't say it at Pride. Oh, and definitely don't ask them to make out with each other 'because it turns you on'. Yes, that genuinely happens. If you're there with gay friends and feel like Pride might be the perfect opportunity to ask them all those sex questions you've always been intrigued about, proceed with caution: there's 'pride', and then there's some of the conversations I've had with my some of my gay friends about sex. Everyone's got their own TMI level, but as a general rule, my gay friends are more than happy to share things with me that they never could with their straight guy friends. There are so many things – bizarre props, disturbing euphemisms, spectacular injuries, and all – that I can never unhear. But they tell me because we’re so close. They trust me, and they know I’m not easily shocked.
4. Leave your stereotypes at home
Surprisingly, all gay men aren't into Madonna and musical theatre; my gay friends have interests that span a pretty wide range, including rugby, Star Trek, cooking, knitting, athletics and, erm, Ru Paul's Drag Race. One of my GBFs hadn't even seen Mean Girls until a year ago, and frankly my husband's more into musical theatre than any of them. That said, abandon all hopes of being the hottest dancer at Pride – my mate Will's already got that one covered.
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