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As someone who cut his queer teeth in the early 2000s era of Will & Grace, I was unfortunately subjected to the nauseating stereotype of the girl and her best gay friend. I have always been quite repulsed by the notion that gay men were some sort of accessory for a Carrie or Samantha to conveniently use as a plus-one or to pick out clothing, but not important enough to warrant title credits. So I typically avoided any woman too eager to befriend me as if she were adding me to her collection. To me, friendships are based on mutual respect, and any person who tokenized me due to my sexuality was swiftly removed from my circle. So that is why my best friend, who happens to be a woman, represents one of the most sacred relationships of my life.
I met Lindsay (that's us in the picture below) when we were in high school, but our friendship truly began when we went off to college, even though we went off to different schools. It was during those awkward few weeks when everyone from your high school had finished their finals and had gotten together to see just how different we all looked out of the fishbowl. Our bond was created simply because she was one of a handful of people who I could stand to be around from the class of 2002. And she felt the same about me. So she would come to my mom's house and we would drink cheap red wine, swap stories, and laugh.
Soon we were calling to check in on each other during the semester and to share stories about dating and how the sex was. That turned into weekend trips and a Christmas Eve tradition that is now 15 years strong. She's the person who showed me just how special a friendship between a straight woman and a gay man can be.
The beauty behind our friendship is that there is no pressure, no competition, and infinite trust. For as much as we have in common, the lives of a gay man and a straight woman are just different. And why I love her is that she can recognize and observe those differences without placing value on them.
But you don't need me to wax poetic about what friendship is or the dynamics of gay men and straight women. Instead, and in honor of my BFF, here are the greatest hits of Lindsay and Tyler:
That time she flew across the country only to jump in a car and drive back to where she came from just to listen to me cry. It was after grad school and I had just broken up with my first longtime boyfriend. It was far from a joyride, but somehow she knew just the right Britney Spears song to play when the tears would spontaneously start streaming down my face.
That time I told her I was HIV-positive. I had just left the clinic, and she was the first person I called. When I told her it was an emergency, she rushed over with a bottle of wine in hand. I gave her the news, and she responded with "Whew! I thought you were gonna tell me you had cancer. We can handle this." I mean, if there were ever a perfect response, that was it.
That time we spontaneously broke out into a choreographed dance at her wedding. Nothing was planned, but everyone sure did think it was. When you are as close as we are and that one song comes on, sometimes you just know what to do. And yes -- it was always Britney.
Our friendship has nothing to do with how much fun we have had together, although we've had a lot of it. It has nothing to do with even how much time we have spent together, because our lives have taken us on faraway journeys. Our friendship is now based on the fact that in 10, 20, or 50 years from now, if one of us needs the other for whatever reason, we will be there.
And we will know exactly which Britney song to play.