It’s not a much spoken about reality but a reality it is. Gay men and lesbians are not wired to get along.
Put more starkly, talking about gay and lesbian social relationships is like talking about chalk and cheese. In that adage lies one of the reasons why gay men and lesbians generally don’t get along; we have as much in common as chalk and cheese.
Yes, yes, you have issues such as LBTI emancipation that usually unite lesbian and gay activists – they are after all fighting a common enemy. But you have only got to scratch the surface and you find all sorts of nasty, malignant, toxic dynamics even within such groups. But it is fair to say that where the struggle for gay issues is still on the ascendancy, gay men and women get along a little better than usual. That said, I don’t know of more than a handful of organizations in the entire world where gay men and women work together as brothers and sisters for the common good of the male and female gay/rainbow fraternity. The more successful LGBTI organizations tend to have lines drawn in the sand along gay, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, intersexual lines.
The less talked about dynamic that makes for uncomfortable gay/lesbian relationships is in the perception among gay men that lesbians see themselves as men. Lipstick lesbians (who look and carry themselves as women) generally tend not to be too threatening to gay men and they are the easier ones to get along with. But bring a butch lesbian, complete with workman’s Timberland boots, oversize jeans and manly swagger, into the mix and you will have gay men silently running for the hills.
Then there is that aggressive streak that seems to bubble just beneath the surface of many a lesbian social gathering. Of course not all lesbians are trigger happy but it is difficult to shake off the perception that too many of them are constantly spoiling for a fight when they hang out. As one of my friends once put it … “some of these loud mouth lesbians really think they are men.”
In that sentence he encapsulated the problems gay men have with lesbians. Gay men like men because … they are men. So, the reflexive reaction of a gay man to another that he finds attractive is to want to embrace him since the sexual dynamics are already aligned. So, when a lesbian tries to act like a man, it is the very antithesis of what a gay man is about.
Inwardly, therefore, most gay men will be screaming to themselves ‘ you are not a man, bitch’ even though outwardly they will put on a pretense of getting along swimmingly.
Lipstick lesbians are usually less threatening to gay men, and so we get along better with them, because they look and act like women. So, while we are already aware that we both don’t want anything sexual from each other, we are content in the knowledge that they don’t deign to offer what we want – namely a man. But the idea that we are hanging out with women who are acting like men, when all along we know they don’t have dicks, is enough to make the ins and outs of such relationships testy at best.
Thus gay men merely tolerate [especially] butch lesbians and will hang out with them socially only if they have to. Lipstick lesbians have the finesse and refinement many a gay man aspires to so we love our stiletto-heeled, dolled up lesbian sisters; if we hadn’t been men, we would likely have liked to look the way they do. Even as men, we can get some beauty tips from them so they compliment rather than threaten our equilibrium.
No, no, no. We don’t hate lesbians, be they butch or effeminate. We just don’t know how to get along with them when, all along, we have so little in common and, in many extremes, are irritated that they are pretending to be what we know they can’t be; the men we are looking for.