Every so often one of my followers asks me what the best way is to make friends in the gay community. I recently polled my followers and 83% of respondents agreed that it was difficult to make friends in the LGBT community. That is a huge majority and I can’t disagree! As someone with admittedly few gay friends, I have a limited set of ideas on how to do this. Accordingly, I asked all TPG followers to contribute to this post of ideas and tips for seeking that often elusive gay friendship.
Friends or More?
One theme that was constant is that if you want to make a new gay friend – stay in the friend lane and not the romance lane. I actually posted about this issue recently. Dating apps are a great way to instantly connect with people who are gay when it is otherwise difficult or intimidating to do so in the real world. Some apps even have “friendship” modes vs. “dating” modes which makes it easier. I think the apps can be a great place to meet friends if you are clear with people about what you are looking for. For instance, putting “friends, chats, dating, and right now” on your Grindr profile isn’t really clear. It’s true that your wants/needs may change from person to person, but clear communication on what you want from each person keeps it from getting messy.
An example of messy: Sometimes you meet a cool person and (if you’re single) it’s hard not to wonder if this person is someone you should be dating. While that is perfectly fine to pursue, you always risk losing the potentially great friendship if things don’t work out romantically. This has happened to me countless times. Over the years I have met plenty of guys on apps where the intent is dating. It doesn’t end up working out for dating but sometimes we want to try to be friends. This becomes difficult if you have hooked up with this person and now need to respect the boundaries of friendship. Sometimes it can work out if you let some time pass and both people remember not to cross the line. This is harder for some people than others.
Often times too much has happened in the “hook up” lane and the potential for friendship is tainted. This is an unfortunate consequence. I’d say the balance here is know what you want. If you are in dating mode – do not regret “going for it” even if someone seems like they can also be a great friend. After all, a great boyfriend should also be someone you would like as a friend. If, however, you are not sure you are in solely dating mode, maybe start as friends first and don’t hook up just in case you want to leave that door open for friendship.
Gay Sports Leagues
I got this response a surprising number of times! Many of you said the best way to meet new local gay friends is to join a gay sports league. I have heard of this working for a number of people and it sounds like a solid plan. There are no issues like the ones discussed above because sports are a harmless, non-sexual activity (usually). One follower mentioned that the “team” concept in gay sports helps overcome the “cruisey” vibes of other gay social gatherings. In other words, focusing on the game and not on potentially meeting people to hook up with keeps everybody in the friend lane. The one issue I see here is if, like me, you don’t actually enjoy sports. Also, there may not always be a gay sports league in your area. Perhaps we need a couple more ideas.
Clubs and Social Groups
Somewhat similar to the concept of gay sports leagues, there are a ton of gay clubs and groups that focus on all types of interests. Theatre, singing, pop culture, art, sports, travel, cooking, etc. You can look up what’s going on in your area. And for those of you who live in small towns, I know that a mass of gay people is difficult to find. My suggestion here would be to look for gay-centric clubs or groups in the biggest city close to you. Perhaps you can join on Facebook or connect with them once in a while and make a trip to the city. Friendships don’t require a constant physical presence.
Ok – I think we can all get on board with this idea. The Internet and social media are a really great place to connect with people who have common interests. Instagram is a good place to start. You can easily find LGBT-specific pages or even non-LGBT pages that focus on things you’re interested in. Check out the comments – agree with someone, think someone’s funny? Well shoot them a DM. I have seen several people form what seem like friendships in my own comment feeds. I think most people are receptive to a nice DM that says something like “hey – you seem cool – I really like your page” and it can take off from there. Don’t discount other sites – Tumblrs, blogs, YouTubers, Pinterests…it’s truly endless. There are a lot of interest-specific forums too. As a car lover, I used to be all over the automotive forums making friends…and enemies.
I received this suggestion a couple of times. Sometimes it’s not just about how or where to find a friend, but also being the type of person that people want to be friends with. I know we as gay people are often outspoken and have a lot of opinions, but if you are trying to make new friends, maybe keep it neutral for a bit. Show people that you can listen to them and value their opinions before just talking about your own. Try to open yourself up to people with different backgrounds and lifestyles. The best friendships are ones where you can learn from others and also teach people from your own perspective. Don’t judge or stereotype people – friends come in all different packages that you might not expect! One follower mentioned loyalty is critical in friendships, so keep that in mind too.
A final note – one follower mentioned that as an LGBT+ person, you don’t necessarily need to have mostly LGBT+ friends. Like I said before, friends come in all forms. It’s definitely nice to have gay peers you can relate to and it’s awesome if a lot of your friends happen to be gay, but keep it in perspective. My personal belief is a good blend of all types of friends keeps you sane and comforted in all different aspects of your life.