by: Shelly Phillips
This past summer on a warm, July evening, a good friend and I were walking around the Lakeside region of Muskegon, Michigan, and decided to stop into Marine Tap for a quick drink. The crowd was a strange mix of sunburned middle-aged sailors and a group scantily-clad twenty-something women who were part of a bachelorette party. We took a seat at the bar. As per usual, I found my friend checking out the group of ladies (he’d long stopped even trying to hide it in front of me), and we started chatting about who we liked best.
I immediately picked out the woman he was interested in before he even said so. He has a consistent type—thin, willowy blondes. I then indicated who I thought was attractive. The group left and went to the bar next door. We both watched them walk out. I also no longer hid the fact that I was checking out the women as much as he was.
Then he said, “Let’s go talk to them.”
“No way,” I refused. “I’m too chicken.”
“Come on,” he said. “You only live once.”
“No—I don’t want to,” I said.
“You can be my wingman,” he said. “A straight guy and a lesbian—we can totally pull it off.”
And that’s when the cards fell. The joking, in my mind, was over. I told him quite firmly that I was not and would never be his wingman.
Since I started becoming more open about my sexual orientation, one thing I quickly discovered is the fact that straight guys really dig gay or bisexual women. This is also known as the lesbro phenomenon. Lesbros, essentially, are straight men who love to hang out with gay women. In retrospect, it makes sense; men who are friends with gay women get the perks of not only being able to hang out with girls who think like they do, but who can also offer them insight into the crazy, confusing world of the female mind. And maybe for some women who are more confident in their sexuality and enjoy being thought of as “one of the guys,” (despite the fact that they have boobs) having lesbros has its own perks for them as well.
But this is something that quite frankly has gotten to be old quickly, and additionally irritates me to no end.
Admittedly, I initially loved playing what I call “the bi card.” I first used it on a man I’ll refer to as Fish Face, and the results were immediate—he was intrigued. Okay, more than that, obsessed. I didn’t even have to try to deftly spin webs of lust and temptation to get his attention. The moment he found out I was bi, I was suddenly the coolest thing since sliced bread. It was fun—in the beginning. But soon its glamor wore off.
Instead of making Fish Face more interested in me as a potential girlfriend (as I’d intended), he started talking to me like I was a guy. He endlessly questioned me about who I thought was hot, made derogatory comments about the “assets” of women he saw, and bragged about particular “bangers” he thought were particularly fuck-worthy. I played along like it was all good when inside, I was seething with disgust.
The same thing happened with my good guy friend this past summer. Now, don’t me wrong; he’s a very nice man and has much higher caliber than Fish Face. But he’s still a guy, and when he learned that I was as much into women as he was, he started using it to his advantage. At first, it was bragging about women he’d dated and showing me their pictures to see what I thought of them. Then it turned into the wingman suggestion.
I was kind of surprised to learn that I have no desire to have a lesbro. I, too, enjoyed being able to talk freely with men about the women I found attractive without fear of how they would react. But there’s something that’s almost demeaning about being the friend of a lesbro. You’re—well, for lack of a better word, emasculated. You become sexless. Or else you’re a hot commodity (think of Joey from Friends). Sometimes you can even be both at the same time. It’s quite vexing, actually.
It wasn’t until I started hanging out with lesbians that I truly realized how it is only in the company of other women-loving women that I can truly feel comfortable being myself. With women, I am not afraid to be a wingman. The dynamic suddenly becomes much different. While the comments one might say may not differ that much from the comments lesbians say to their lesbros, one suddenly finds that there’s an air of female solidarity and understanding that one cannot find with heterosexual members of the opposite sex. You retain your identity, and the clichéd sisterhood you share is both welcoming and refreshing.
Shelly Phillips is an Ohioan who doesn’t really care about the Buckeyes, but is just a little too obsessed with all things British. She also enjoys traveling, reading, Chai tea lattes, and late-afternoon naps.