A Stranger Asked Me to Be His First Gay Friend – Marisa Valotta

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

I’ve just gotten back from the mall — the agreed meeting place between me and a guy on Facebook who wanted to buy the iPad I’d advertised for sale — when I see the message:

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Well, this is awkward, I think to myself. Not to mention, a little creepy. Can’t a woman engage in a business transaction without getting hit on? This was the exact reason why I made sure I didn’t meet that guy alone, and that I was in a public space with lots of other people.

I decide to go for complete honesty:

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I’m not sure why I said he was kind and funny because he was a complete stranger so there’s no way I could possibly know that, but I guess I was trying to soften the blow.

When I send that message I hope he’ll back off. Unfortunately he doesn’t:

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I don’t even grace him with a response after this. It’s not my job to educate him on why you shouldn’t ask someone to be your friend based solely on the fact that they’re gay. Whether or not he’s joking, it still offends me.

I don’t exist to be flaunted around as someone’s “gay friend,” especially their “first gay friend,” like it’s some kind of achievement on their part. I’m not a prize to be won and bragged about.

I’m a human being who desires genuine friendships based on true connection.

If you’re my friend, it should be because you like me as a person, not because you want to be able to say you have a gay friend. My sexuality is only a small portion of what makes me up as a person, and if that’s the focus of our friendship, then I don’t want to be friends.

Maybe this type of behavior doesn’t seem like a big deal to some people, but it has larger ramifications.

When you’re “friends” with someone just because they’re a minority, you’re dehumanizing that person, and the last thing minorities need is to be further dehumanized. Minority groups already have to fight to be treated normally in everyday society.

When you introduce someone as your gay friend (or any other type of minority), you’re singling them out and labeling them as “other.”

This might not be your intention, but that’s what’s happening. You’re indirectly making a statement that says, “this person is different.”

Of course, differences are not inherently bad, but it’s no secret that those who are perceived as different are often treated poorly. It’s okay to recognize differences, but don’t make a habit of making a big deal out of it.

There’s no need to point them out to other people. If you’re doing it because you want to be seen as inclusive, you need to get rid of your holier-than-thou attitude. You don’t get extra points for being friends with me just because I’m gay.

Having a diverse group of friends is great, but you shouldn’t seek out friendships based solely on the fact that someone is a minority. Talk to all kinds of people and connect with them on a personal level. That’s how you form true, diverse friendships.

See the whole human being first.

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