This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Navan Shetty. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Not Your Gay Best Friend: Staying Out and Proud With Your Heterosexual Friends

Coming out never ends. Yes, even when you have officially done it years ago.

Coming out never ends. Yes, even when you had officially done it years ago. It may get easy at times for sure. But the struggle behind staying proud amplifies. Not to be hard on my friends, they have been their best throughout or at least tried to be. I do feel great about being my true self  with them and not living a parallel life. What is also true is that they will never really get what it means to be in the closet and eventually come out of it.

When the majority of your friends are heterosexual, it is an intense experience. For instance, you are also perceived as angry or the one who is fragile enough to get offended easily. It is exhausting trying to prove a point, standing up for the very thing you were embarrassed by, getting angry and making your friends understand the same. It does not stop me from doing it, though.

The whole phase of  “I shouldn’t have to!” is gone for a long time now. In fact, I still get the feeling of something dying inside when an offensive or a homophobic comment is casually made in a conversation. I wish I had unheard everything. It is not okay to listen and then ignore it just because you know the person and you think they did not mean it or they are a good human being, someone who has always been there for you. Call it out. If they are your best friends, it gets tough, but you do it.

It is not true that you will lose friends once you start calling them out. You will surely filter out the toxic ones. Calling it out does not have to be aggressive, rather opt for a kinder approach. You address it with love and not hate. And of course, it is not easy to stay calm when all you want is to scream and be angry because you expect more from your friends.

All this while, something that I know, for sure, is your friends don’t want to offend you at any cost. It happens because they don’t pay attention. Also, most of it is the byproduct of the hetero-normative conditioning of society. If they don’t get it now, they will understand over a period of time. And if you care, both of you will have to do the work. It is not fair, but at this point, moving forward is the way.

Then there is this whole idea of “They come from a different time, culture or upbringing” which does not make sense. If you can care enough to talk about issues that matter to you or if you can choose a certain career path all by yourself, you can care enough not to be homophobic and ignorant about LGBTQIA+ issues. Evolving is more than from being “Hey, Can you be my gay best friend?” to being “I am an ally of LGBTQIA+ community”.

It is one value you can not compromise with. How can you date a homophobic or a heterosexist person when your best friend is gay? It is not okay even if you don’t have a “Gay Best Friend”. Do not settle with the mindset where you are okay with your friend being gay but can make fun of someone else for the same or not being okay with a “certain level of queerness”. Call it out. Don’t be afraid. It feels good when you call it out. You don’t have to keep that in you for the rest of your life. Don’t let anyone be a pseudo-ally!

Pride parade
Evolving is more than from being “Hey, Can you be my gay best friend?” to being “I am an ally of LGBTQIA+ community”.

The biggest change that I saw in my friends is that it was no more about keeping up with the trend or being woke. It was more about doing the right thing, and the most important ‘Human Rights!’

According to the experiences I have had during the course of time:

  • Know that when you stand up for an LGBTQIA+ friend, you are not doing it because they cannot. Don’t take back their power. You do it because it is the right thing to do and it is one value you wouldn’t trade anything for.
  • Acknowledge and understand what is going around in terms of the community because you care, and it’s important to them. It is not a favour you are doing, and they deserve it as much any other friend of yours.
  • Empathise over sympathising. They don’t need saving. They are capable of doing it themselves. If they are sharing any traumatising incident with you, they do it because they trust you, not because they want you to pity them or pep talk them. Listen.
  • Acknowledge your mistake and rise above. Grow with time. Normalise being better than yesterday. No one is ideal and perfect.
  • No, they don’t have a crush on you. Don’t assume sharing vulnerable issues to anything else. It’s stupid and offensive.
  • Not everyone has watched Queer Eye! Don’t stereotype.

I was talking to one of my closest friends, and we agreed on how much we have grown together, fought on issues that she did not understand back then and tried our best to give each other everything we could to strengthen our relationship. We have and are healing together. We grow every day with our dealings and opinions. It is an experience my friends have respected, and so have I.

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  1. Simran Borade

    A brilliant article!! It believes in helping each other grow and be better people and more importantly, better friends <3 The world doesn’t need someone assigning blame, rather it needs people who find solutions that can help make the world a better place for everyone! Well done, author.

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