He’s not your accessory

ANNIE DEVOE | adevoe@butler.edu | Contributing Columnist

The wind was filled with the savory smell of grilled food and beer, while music and loud cheers echoed between Hinkle Fieldhouse and the Butler Bowl.

I looked around, past my little brother and best friend, and found myself surrounded by hundreds of new and familiar faces. All of them were decked out in the spirit of Homecoming. The sky was bleeding the usual Butler blue.

As I continued to observe the parking lot, taking the moment in, I suddenly heard a classic college girl’s scream. The ear-crunching squeal belonged to someone I had never seen before and was directed toward my best friend, Jack.

His greeting came out dull in comparison, not nearly as animated as hers.

“Oh, what, hi,” he said.

But as the girl turned to her other friend to introduce Jack, she decided to make note of his sexual orientation.

“He’s one of my gay best friends,” she said. “I love him! He is so perf!”

I normally wouldn’t have put much thought into the statement, but that day I did.

I thought to myself, Jack was my best friend, gay or not. I was with him nearly every hour of every day, and I’d never heard him speak about her or seen him with her at all.

So, after a few hugs and a “how are you?” she and her friend went on their way.

I casually asked Jack who he had just spoken to.

“Oh, it’s some girl I saw maybe twice last year,” he said.

I am all for being friendly, but I do not even think this girl knew Jack’s last name. The only thing she really knew about him was the fact he is openly gay.

Television, pop culture and social media have done wonders for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community in today’s society, and have helped bring awareness and acceptance across the world.

But has it done too much?

I look around TV and pop culture today and see a common theme: It is glamorous to have a gay best friend, “everyone” does it.

From shows such as “Will & Grace” and “Sex and the City” to real-life situations with female celebrities and their gay companions, it has become a staple to say you have a gay best friend, or “GBF.”

People forget gay men are not a species: They are human, just like the rest of us.

Upon this realization, I asked Jack how he felt about it.

“I feel like I almost don’t want to be openly gay,” he said. “Just because I don’t want people flocking toward me just to use me to flaunt on social media that they have a gay BFF.”

We look at society now and believe we have done so much good for the LGBT community, yet an over-acceptance is forcing some into feeling they are a wanted item, something that is being used as an accessory.

“It is hard making friends because I want to be myself, but I never know if people are being friends with me because they want that stereotype, or maybe in a guy’s case, if they want to be able to say that they are friends with a gay male,” Jack said. “I want to be treated like my sexual preference has nothing to do with why someone likes me. I just want people to like me for me.”

It has become so mainstream and desirable to be able to say you have a GBF that many people forget part of having a GBF is actually being a friend.

Too often, the gay community is accepted selfishly by another in order to fulfill their desire for a stereotype.

“I don’t even like shopping, or shoes, like so many TV shows and magazines advertise that I do,” Jack said. “I hate living in a society that makes me feel that, just because I like boys, I have to act a certain way.

“Some people like that attention, and embrace it, but I just want someone to like me because they want to be my friend for who I am as a person, regardless of sex or sexual orientation,” he said.

The truth is, everybody is unique and different in his or her own way. People should be accepted and not judged by the color of their skin, how much money they have or who they choose to love.

Everyone deserves to be given an equal chance and the opportunity to show his or her personality without the pending anxiety of being stereotyped.

“I’m a human being, not your handbag,” Jack said.