Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…
Dear GWBW — I have a friend who I love dearly and unconditionally. The problem is when we go out, he acts even more (stereotypically) gay than he normally is! It can be funny for a while, but then I get embarrassed for him. I don’t know why he needs this kind of attention. — Loud & Proud Friend
Dear Loud & Proud Friend,
I’m not sure how to answer this question. I mean, on the one hand, I understand the annoyance of friends who have “party personas” that come out whenever groups of 4 or more gather — especially when alcohol is added. But, I also can’t help but remember Roger, the fabulously gay husband in the remake of The Stepford Wives. Roger’s partner loved Roger’s flamboyant ways until he had the ability to change him into a Brooks Brothers wearing politician.
Are you missing your friend and thoughtful communication when you are out and about or are you looking for a way to shape him into more of your idea of who he should be. Either way, you can’t really control how someone chooses to present themselves to the world. Whether you decide to share your concerns or not, acceptance is key here.
If your “embarrassment” is actually for yourself because in public he seems beyond the boundaries of respectable behavior, say nothing. Then it’s your issue, not his. Your friend’s coming out when going out may be his own flag waving of independence. In which case, again, let it be. Again, accept. He is who he is. If you are so embarrassed by his behavior, perhaps you should reduce how often you two go out together.
If you honestly believe your friend’s “party persona” is a mask he wears to hide in plain sight, then as his friend, you should have a heart-to-heart conversation. Let him know that you love, appreciate and respect him, however, you’ve noticed his need to over-compensate as the chandelier swinging fun boy when you are out. Let him know there is no need. He’s amazing as he is and has no need for over-compensating. Realize, however, that change doesn’t happen overnight. Also, reminding him of his over acting every time you go out may abruptly end your hang time. Most people do not want to party with their mother.
Either way, you can’t change how another person acts. You can only choose to accept or deny. Even if your friend is working on this “party persona,” realize lasting change takes time. Love and acceptance through the process, builds deep, lasting friendships. And remember, embarrassment is just on the other side of acceptance if you take the effort to make the journey. Watch The Bird Cage again. It will help.
Dear Loud & Proud Friend,
Not sure for whom “this kind of attention” is a problem for here… Darlin’ ask anyone who knows me daily, I always say about adjustments made in life: The pendulum never swings to the middle. Gay or straight, male or female, young or old, when we’re growing/changing, trying to find ourselves, or trying to feel comfortable showing our truest selves in public — face it, we’re all exactly the same: flawed human cupcakes. This fragility/frailty is just that, human. Even the most comfortable-in-her/his-skin and confident person, at minimum once in her/his life felt like a fake or that s/he had to act out to “come back home.”
Be happy knowing your friend knows he can act (another of those key words) his best and worst around you, and that means he knows he has your acceptance and you have his back. It’s often toughest to tell the ones we love they crazee!, or straight up assholes. Do your friend, yourself and your relationship a favor by letting him know (when he’s not acting out, drunk or otherwise not “himself” as you know him 9 of 10 times) that in your opinion, you think he’s better than he acts/treats himself at these times, and ask him if it’s ok if you poke him in the arm when he does it in real time. But be prepared if he tells you to f-off because he feels fine with his flaming behavior, or doesn’t know what you’re talking about, etc. Let it go (and I’m taking face value facts at your word here). The girl ain’t ready. There’s one more in-between possibility, maybe that flamer is who he really is, and he’s acting when he’s toning himself down in the every day (ask yourself what does he do for a living, or what does your town look like?). In that case, just tell him with a wink that you’ve got his fire extinguisher — when he calls you for a friend 9-1-1 intervention — but in that instance for gawd’s sake, if you’re a true friend, don’t try to change him because he makes you feel uncomfortable!
Image, Till Krech
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