ASK A GAY

Do Gay Men Like Straight Women Better Than Lesbians?

Sun, Dec 16, 2012   By Henry (Hank) Scott    9 Comments
Dear Hank:

I’m a straight woman with a lot of gay male friends — pretty much the norm for West Hollywood, I think. The gay men I know seem to enjoy the company of straight women. But they don’t seem to have lesbian friends. Why is that? Do gay men like straight women better than lesbians? Gay men would seem to have more in common with lesbians.

Sincerely,

Dorothy

Dear Dorothy:

Elton John Kisses KD Lang

I have to give it to those great folks who have put together coalitions to fight for LGBT civil rights. It can’t have been easy. When you get right down to it, L’s and G’s have the same things in common as Mexican immigrants do with Chinese immigrants — legal and political problems. When it comes to culture, they’re as different as folks from Oaxaca are from those from Shanghai. (The T’s, whose gender choice may make them straight or gay, and the B’s, who can camp out on either side of the gay/straight divide, are another story deserving of their own columns).

To understand the relationship between gay men and lesbians, let’s take a second to indulge in some stereotypes. “Stereotype” is a term rightly disparaged when it means rigidly assigning the same characteristics to everyone in a particular group. At the same time, stereotypes also reflect a certain reality that’s useful for understanding a group so long as one also understands that not everyone in the group fits the stereotype.

With that apology-in-advance, let’s look at how the gays and the lesbians differ in four areas and what that suggests about their relationships with one another.

CARS. If you see someone in West Hollywood with short hair and a flannel shirt driving a Ford Ranger or a Subaru Forester (Martina Navratilova is their spokesperson), it’s most likely a lesbian. If it’s someone in a tight tank top with a faux hawk in a BMW 3 Series or a VW Jetta, it’s almost certainly a gay guy. Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at Car Talk’s survey of the ultimate gay and lesbian cars of all time. Who can argue with Click and Clack?

PETS. Here the stereotype is that gay guys like dogs and lesbians like cats. I beg to differ (a bit). My lesbian friends are all dog-crazy. They differ from my gay buddies in that the dogs they own and love are big — German shepherds, Doberman retrievers, even a pit bull.  My gay male friends go for the small dogs (I have a dachshund), with schnauzers, Pomeranians, and pugs dominating. (Thankfully, for those of us who try to promote a masculine notion of homosexuality, poodles and shih tzus seem to be fading in popularity).

BODY IMAGE. The gym — the gay man’s country club — is every bit as important to his appearance as the salon where he gets his back waxed, his brows plucked and his fingernails and toenails trimmed. At 24 Hour Fitness on Santa Monica Boulevard (my gym) guys are constantly lifting their shirts to check their abs in the mirror, counting to make sure all of the six-pack is still there. While there are some women who work out there, the gal pumping iron next to you there and at most gyms is most likely heterosexual.

The stereotype is that lesbians are not into fitness, and indeed often are overweight. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health five years ago found that lesbians were twice as likely to be overweight as were heterosexual women. The reason? The study cited other research that posited that lesbians feel more comfortable about the way they look than do straight women, and thus don’t focus so much on weight.  “Lesbians’ exercise behavior is not motivated by aesthetic reasons,” the study says.

LANGUAGE. This is an odd one. But there have been studies showing a correlation between gay men and heterosexual women in measures of verbal fluency. A study published in 2003 in the journal “Neuropsychology” found that gay men and heterosexual women “jointly outperformed” lesbians and heterosexual men in a test whose participants have to say as many words as possible from a certain category (fruit, colors, cars, etc.) in a given time. The study also found that gay men outperformed everyone when it came to naming synonyms for words, while lesbians and heterosexual men performed similarly. Go figure!

So what do I take from all of this? When it comes to how we present ourselves and live our lives, gays are more about form and lesbians are more about function. Gay men and straight women focus on style and beauty because that’s what attracts men. So perhaps it’s natural that those two groups would more easily bond.

But what women themselves look for in a partner isn’t so much beauty (and here I’ll indulge in another stereotype) but dependability, understanding and support. We gay guys all say we want and need that, but we toss that aside in a second for a cleft chin, well-defined abs and a face without a wrinkle. Among my lesbian friends, dependability, understanding and support rank high in what they look for in a partner.

None of this argues that gay men and lesbians can’t be close. In my life in West Hollywood I’ve met a couple of gorgeous and wonderful lesbians who I sometimes regret are batting for the other team. And, while there is some rarely discussed animosity between gay men and lesbians of a certain age, younger gay men and lesbians seem much more accepting of one another.

Gaily yours,

Hank

Questions you can’t bring yourself to ask your gay friends and neighbors? Send them to AskAGay@WEHOville.com.

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About Henry (Hank) Scott

Henry (Hank) Scott is publisher of WEHOville.com. Scott is a former journalist with years of experience covering or supervising coverage of local politics in cities as varied as Charlotte, NC, Hartford, CT, and New York City. henry@wehoville.com

View all posts by Henry (Hank) Scott →

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9 Comments

  1. JBMon, Dec 17, 2012 at 9:38 am

    This brings up many resonating points. I myself have plans today to hang out with my friend Rita, an overweight, short haired, flannel clad lesbian, who always travels in her pickup truck with her pit bulls. I don’t know what we’ll talk about though, as she has low verbal fluency and never understands the words I’m using. I’m almost always forced to quickly come up with synonyms to help her understand.

  2. TMon, Dec 17, 2012 at 10:22 am

    Love your comment JB!! I think that the article may be addressing the way relationships are between gay men and lesbians in West Hollywood. In my community, gay men and lesbians are friends more so than with straight women. And guess what?! We can all speak the same language and understand each other very well (gasp!!). I think this article is in itself a stereotype.

  3. 2cloudsMon, Dec 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Well, I understand these stereotypes and know those types of lesbians and gays. I am a lesbian, definitely not fitting in that stereotype, though, and I live with two gay guys that I get along with very well indeed. My brother is gay, my best friend is gay, and as it happens I have far more gay friends than lesbian friends.
    As it is with stereotypes, they are just that and not applicable to everyone out there. We’re all individuals and some people may very well be offended by this article. If the shoe fits, that is. My guess is that also a whole bunch of femme lesbians won’t be happy with above comments. And those, like me, who fall into the more androgynous category, who do care about their bodies (in a healthy, but not obsessive way) and what they wear (I don’t own a single piece of flannel), may or may not care either way.
    At the end of the day we all gravitate towards like minded people, and kindred spirits, if we’re lucky enough to find those. Gay men and straight women have a lot of things in common, as do lesbians and straight men for that matter. I have gay and straight friends of either gender, with some I have more in common than with others, but our sexual preferences don’t really figure among those. And I am glad for it.

  4. AnonymousMon, Dec 17, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Oh, ugh.

  5. C.Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 4:48 am

    Well, I’m a lesbian who doesn’t own a single flannel piece of clothing, whose BMI is 19.73 and works out 3 times a week to keep it this way, who spends a lot of time choosing what to wear, who doesn’t drive and is terrified of big dogs, and is always asked for synonyms and explanations of many different terms and concepts by my classmates at college… I guess maybe I’ve been wrong all this time and I’m not a lesbian, but a straight woman. Perhaps I’m a gay guy!

  6. Really, Papi? Really?Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    In conclusion to this article – and as the one and only possible solution to everything – I may suggest that gay men immediately start to procreate with straight women, so that they can breed a race of Ubermensch to spread beauty and intelligence all over the word. Because – obviously – they are the most perfect people ever! Hail … yeah, you know who…

    But as I am bisexual and therefore busy climbing up and down the fence to collect the straight privileges on the one side and to educate those darn lesbians on all the important things in life (cars, dogs, narrow standards of the beauty industry that will make them hate their bodies, synonyms for “penis”) on the other, I´m just gonna let it go.

    Seriously, WTF is this article?

  7. LiveintherealworldFri, Dec 21, 2012 at 7:51 am

    Really this is passing for humor these days? Are you auditioning for the role of Jody in revival of Soap somewhere? Wake up darling your humor is dated.

  8. JWed, Oct 30, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Are you trying to argue that lesbians are dumb and rotund? What a mess of mind you have going on! I personally know many lesbian graduate students that are so smart, so wellspoken and so fit. Your entire post is a load of stereotypical, misogynistic rubbish!

  9. Intelligent, fit, queer womanSat, Oct 04, 2014 at 9:02 pm

    As a lesbian I would have liked this article more had it suggested bringing these two communities together, celebrating the similarities instead of perpetuating the differences. Now I know why gay men are so rude to me, they must have read your article– please be more responsible with your writing as you directly affect our community.

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