Hey, teenagers! Can’t find the perfect hot new handbag to bring to the mall? Teen Vogue suggests you grab a gay man! “He’s fun, trust-worthy, and supportive, plus you don’t have to compete with him. He’s your gay best friend — and he’s in demand,” the magazine says beneath the headline, “Is a GBF (Gay Best Friend) the New Must-Have Accessory for Teen Girls?”
This spring, sixteen-year-old Mimi* noticed a new trend at her Pacific Palisades, California, high school. The must-have items for her fashionista classmates included a Proenza Schouler tie-dyed top, a shrunken military jacket, neon-bright chunky bracelets, and … a gay best friend.
Teen Vogue editor Amy Astley seems to be trying to do a bit of damage control in her editor’s note tacked to the end of the story:
Friendships with other girls — even the healthiest and most supportive of relationships — are always a teeny bit complicated. I hate to admit it, but I feel like a tiny troll next to one of my besties, who is as tall and stunning as a supermodel; another good pal is so outrageously successful that one can’t help but seem a bit of an underachiever in comparison. And that’s the problem: We girls compare ourselves to one another, and it can just get a bit … intense. Thank goodness for gay best friends. I treasure my GBFs — I live in New York City; I have many, many! — because they are noncompetitive and nonjudgmental, and we make each other feel accepted and cherished.
True, girls can be bitches. But so can gay men — and straight men, for that matter. Rather than lumping gay men into a neat little stereotype, Teen Vogue might have done a story for their impressionable teenage readers about how to feel secure around confident, pretty friends, not how to find friends who won’t make you feel insecure. It’s not Astley’s friend’s fault that she’s “as tall and stunning as a supermodel” and that this makes Astley feel lesser than her. And it’s not a gay man’s job to bail her or other women out of those feelings.