I can’t be your gay best friend

He cheered on the day that ref­er­en­dum was passed, but now Donal Lynch won­ders if the price was too high

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - SHUTTERBUG -

It’s been a cou­ple of months now since the ref­er­en­dum, and you’d prob­a­bly thought you’d read your last gay whinge af­ter the Yes vote. But just one more lit­tle thing — and this is the last one, prom­ise — did no­body think to men­tion that there are down­sides to be­ing ac­cept­able?

For a start, now that we’re in the best lit­tle coun­try in the world to be gay, ev­ery­one needs their own gay friend. This might not be as tough as ac­tual op­pres­sion, but it’s not a bed of roses ei­ther. For Ir­ish gay men, be­ing a loner-in­tro­vert just isn’t on the cards any more. You’ve long-lost cousins com­ing out of the wood­work on Face­book and el­derly ac­quain­tances ask­ing “where the next pa­rade” is on.

The ladies lead the charge, of course. For years now, women’s mag­a­zines, movies and telly have all ham­mered home the mes­sage: ev­ery woman needs a gay best friend. They need them, they’re told, more than they need fancy face creams and fake hair.

The rea­sons for this are ob­vi­ous: gay men are the per­fect al­lies, while be­ing com­plete lack of com­pe­ti­tion, ex­cept when it comes to blow-job anec­dotes. Girl power and all that, but at the end of the day, there is no­body else the sin­gle woman can rely on to not get preg­nant first.

This is all well and good, and gen­er­ally works out well if you have a gay man and a straight woman ready to go, but a quick glance at the cen­sus re­veals the num­bers just don’t add up. Roughly half of the Ir­ish pop­u­la­tion are women. Roughly 5pc are gay men. Ipso facto, there aren’t enough gays to go around.

This is bad enough in ur­ban ar­eas of Ire­land, but if you hap­pen to be gay in a small town, for­get about it.

A gay man in Athlone or Water­ford es­sen­tially has his pick of god­chil­dren or din­ner par­ties. You end up ly­ing to your straight fe­male friends as they point­edly quiz you about which other girls you’re friends with. You end up do­ing dou­ble shifts: an arty film with one girl, fol­lowed by a gos­sipy din­ner with another.

You come up with dodgy ex­cuses when you’re not feel­ing up to it tonight. You make awk­ward, sur­ro­gate-re­lated con­ver­sa­tion (“Sure, of course I’d love to use your uterus . . . when the time comes . . . if Tay­lor Swift is still hold­ing out on me”).

And you start to get an in­sight into what straight men go through, and feel weirdly grate­ful you don’t have to deal with this more of­ten.

In the old days, for gay men, there was were no ex­pec­ta­tions in terms of so­cial­is­ing. You could dis­creetly skulk off to some den of in­iq­uity for the night and no­body would be seen dead tag­ging along with you. Gay clubs were dun­geons, where no de­cent per­son could be seen. Now, they all want to come.

In the last few months alone I have had two mar­ried moth­ers de­mand to be brought to illegal lock-ins, with me stand­ing there, go­ing, “Don’t you have chil­dren to go home to?”

The re­sult is that you feel like a com­mu­nist queu­ing for bread, as you try to the get into said clubs, and, when you fi­nally wedge your­self in, they’re an­noy­ingly packed.

Bounc­ers can’t even tell hen par­ties to piss off any more be­cause a) re­verse dis­crim­i­na­tion doesn’t feel as cool since the ref­er­en­dum passed and b) who knows, they might just be a gag­gle of ex­citable les­bians, or the en­tourage around the Rose of Tralee or some­thing.

That il­licit Sodom-and-Go­mor­rah vibe that the bars used to have is gone. They are now gay Dis­ney­land.

Per­haps, like the hous­ing mar­ket, the gay bub­ble will even­tu­ally burst, and so­ci­ety will move on to another mi­nor­ity, such as Trav­ellers or Span­ish stu­dents. Or maybe the pres­sure to get on to the gay-best-friend lad­der will re­sult in the ‘gen­tri­fi­ca­tion’ of pre­vi­ously un­de­sir­able les­bians.

When that hap­pens, the coun­try’s gay men might well be left be­hind, the hu­man equiv­a­lent of ghost es­tates. But at least there’ll be some breath­ing room at the club.

‘Gay men are per­fect al­lies, while be­ing com­plete lack of com­pe­ti­tion’

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