The friendship chart

Can straight men and gay women be friends?

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Straight women and straight women
If you thought the rivalry between Jay-Z and Nas was intense, you haven’t been privy to a girl-on-girl friendship. Years of media portrayals have taught us emotions are at the heart of these friendships: sharing them, evaluating them, understanding them. But exposing your wounds means they’re easy to pour salt into, which some women do when they feel threatened, insulted, ignored or thirsty. The upside: somebody to drink Cosmos with!

Lesbians and lesbians
Unlike gay men and gay men, sex doesn’t present a problem for lesbian-lesbian friendships. (For that matter, stereotypes tell us that sex rarely comes into play in any lesbian relationship.) So go forth, lesbians, and befriend each other at will. There’s nothing more loyal than a team of softball players and no bodyguard so intimidating as a strong woman with a pierced lip.

Gay men and gay men
Welcome to the land of blurred boundaries. When gay men befriend other gay men, beautiful things can happen: a shared understanding of the ups and downs of gay life, not to mention a mutual appreciation for Kristin Chenoweth. (Don’t know her? You might be bi.) But if all those gay characters we see on TV are any indication, these friends might wake up in bed with each other one morning. And Broadway tunes will fail to alleviate the awkwardness.

Straight men and lesbians
Dicey. There’s a brand of lesbian, no matter how butch she is, who wants nothing to do with men. Some, however, might welcome the companionship of another sports-loving, breast-obsessed sort. Lipstick lesbians should exercise caution, however: Very few straight men can be friends with a hot, football-loving woman without wanting to seduce her.

Straight women and lesbians
See “straight women and straight women,” but add a potentially friendship-ending (or relationship-starting) night of “innocent experimentation.”

Straight men and straight men
This varies by species of straight men, of course, but as Judd Apatow et al. has shown us, this is generally a successful pairing. Straight men require companions who can geek out about subjects women and gay men can’t get down with. This includes, but is not limited to, Guitar Hero, indie rock, Abercrombie & Fitch, fantasy baseball and the supposed appeal of Jessica Biel. (For those last two, see also “straight men and lesbians.”)

Straight men and gay men
When it comes to stereotypes, straight men and gay men get pegged with the same traits: an obsession with sex, an infatuation with penis size and a shallowness matched only by the Kardashians. Naturally, it’s a match made in heaven. And if the straight guy is willing to get (and maybe even give) a little head now and then? Besties for life!

Straight women and gay men
Single straight women and single gay men make a giddy, fun-loving pair—at least in romcoms. On screen, these duos shop together, drink together and shamelessly use each other to bait boyfriends. But the minute either one actually gets one, the party’s over. (This is usually signified by a text message: FK U BTCH, etc.) Thus, straight women and gay men should wait until they’re coupled off to befriend each other, thereby avoiding codependency (until one of them breaks up).

Gay men and lesbians
From sexual attractions to fashion sense, no two groups of people have ever been more irrelevant to one another. The one exception: those pesky incidents of homophobia, whether inflicted at a bar or by law. In these instances, the queers come together with arms open. But unless there’s a parade or rally that day, a friendly nod will do.

Straight women and straight men
Hate yourself? Covet a friendship that will cause more drama than an episode of Lost? This is the friendship for you.

Hate stereotypes? Vent your anger to letters@timeoutchicago.com.


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