This post might be a bit awkward and I can’t figure out how to write it without bumping up against a few stereotypes, but I’m gonna go ahead with it anyway. If I offend, please let me know.

I keep hearing people – mostly women, mostly straight – referring to the queer guys in their lives as “my gays”. I get the sense that it’s generally intended as an affectionate, term of endearment. Nonetheless, it makes me uncomfortable. Something about the possessive article in combination with the use of “gay” as a noun makes my brain twitchy. I wonder how I might feel if a white pal referred to me and their other friends of colour collectively as “my blacks”. I’m pretty sure I’d feel uber-generalized and kind of slavish to boot.

But that’s just my perspective on the phrase. It’s totally possible that my discomfort is about my own historical/social baggage around ownership and identity. I can’t imagine a context where I would ever feel okay referring to people as “my gays”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t okay being referred to that way.

Has anyone ever referred to you as “my gay” or “my gays”?  If so, how do you feel about it. Is there specific ettiquette around its use – i.e. a phrase that’s cool, but only coming from a close friend? If you and I are friends in real life, is it cool if I just refer to you as “my friend” or barring that, some hilarious nickname?

Thanks!

 

Comments

  1. Devon says:

    I think “my gays” is kind of awkward, too. I’m queer in a number of ways, and I would rather be someone’s “friend who has this interesting thing about her” than “my queer/trans/kinky friend”. Most of my friends are geeks, so they understand feelings of being singled out for their most obvious traits, so I doubt they refer to me that way. I’ve had gay friends on and off during my adult life (I just didn’t know about it when I was very young), but they’ve been “my friends” and sometimes I’ll add, “he or she is gay/has a boy-girlfriend” or that I met him/her at a gay event. Friend history stuff.

    My non-gay friends are still “my friends” whether they identify as geek or something else. I know have a tendency to over-use “my” when referring to friends, but I do it to all of them.

  2. Michael Roesler says:

    I am a very open person and don’t give a damn what people say to me or about me, so in my mind I would equate this situation to a straight guy saying something like “I’m gonna go meet my boys” in reference to his friends. To be honest, I would assume that the use of “my gays” likely stems from use by actual gay people. I do agree, however, that it should really only be used by people who are close, and also if its in a positive context. If my friend is saying “OMG i love my gays” that’s great. But if my manager was saying “one of my gays is late for work”, that would probably be less cool.

  3. Emmy says:

    The issue I take with it is that the person or group of people are being identified by one aspect of their whole being, and a part that is generally marginalized. Since people who are gay often face discrimination because of who they love, saying “my gay” identifies them as only being single-faceted. Their whole person is being ignored.
    Also, they are being seen as a novelty which minimizes them as people once again, and makes me wonder about how the people who say “my gays” see their value as friends.
    Just use “my friends” for goodness sakes.

  4. Adrian says:

    I “like” what Emmy says: “they are being seen as a novelty which minimizes them as people once again, and makes me wonder about how the people who say “my gays” see their value as friends.”
    Makes me wonder, too. It’ll be nice once this doesn’t matter any more and being gay is not seen as necessarily the paramount aspect of your identity.
    The “my” really bothers me too, as it does when someone introduces their partner as “my wife, Sarah.” Much more empowering to say “this is Sarah, we’ve been married since [whenever].” That little switch really takes Sarah out of the box.
    People don’t mean anything by it mostly but change the way you talk it really does change the way you think, over time.
    I have a very mainstream life (except in bed :-p ) so people (I have many many straight friends) don’t tend to refer to me as “my gay.” But when they do, it does make me wonder what I am thinking. I also find it odd getting lumped in as “my gays” when a friend is referring to all their gay friends, others of whom I don’t necessarily know (so if I don’t even know someone, why are we suddenly a group just because we’re both gay and both friends with her?). But that’s only in over-sensitive moments :-p
    I don’t see “my friends” as possessive. I think you’d have to be in high school to really mean MY FRIEND STAY AWAY SHE’S _MY_ FRIEND, because friendship isn’t ownership…or labelling (friend’s a nice label, at least)…whereas “gay,” can still be a negative/stereotyping label…and “wife” can CERTAINLY be a possessive label…
    Thanks for asking!
    -A