Those of you who know me well will agree that I have a reputation for chasing the romantic unattainable. That sounds bad, like I only pursue doomed relationships or bad boys or something. That’s not what I mean. To put it bluntly, I tend to fall for gay men. To put it more bluntly, I’m what my friends refer to as a “fag hag.” (Side note: Not my favorite term.)
And while this preference of mine may not serve me well in terms of marriage prospectives, I stand by it. Gay men dress well, they care about their hair, they always have something sassy to say, and they notice when I lose weight. What is there not to love? (Side note: I know this is a very broad generalization; I’m referring to the gay men I’m attracted to.)
Anyway, the reason I bring this up is because I recently watched the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding over fall break—Princeton’s random post-midterms weeklong vacation—and realized something. I always attributed my love for gay men with my ties to theater. I’ve been doing musicals since I was six and, predictably, the only men I ever pined for within that community were flamers–a word I refuse to think of as offensive because flames are bad ass. Alas, no! As long as I’ve been doing theater, I’ve also been watching this movie. (Side note to parents: My Best Friend’s Wedding is not appropriate for kids under twelve and is not fully appreciated by kids under eighteen. My parents were silly.) Anyway, I’ve been watching My Best Friend’s Wedding for as long as I can remember, but I only just realized that George Downes–played by the charming Rupert Everett–is at the root of my obsession with guys who like guys.
George is clever, handsome, suave and sophisticated. For those of you unfamiliar with the movie, George is Julia Roberts’s best friend and boss. When her plans to woo back her former boyfriend/current best friend Michael—now engaged—falter, George flies down from somewhere decently far away to comfort her. Julia proceeds to use George by feigning an engagement to him in hopes of making Michael jealous. Instead of getting angry, George rolls with it and ends up enjoying the spotlight a bit too much (and by that I mean just enough). He bursts into “I Say a Little Prayer For You” over wedding brunch in one of the most memorable moments in the history of rom-coms. And even though Julia is a selfish, conniving woman who sabotages happy engagements and uses her gay best friend as a temporary plot device, George forgives her and SPOILER ALERT dances with her at Michael’s wedding to a barely legal Cameron Diaz at the end of the film. Yes, George gets the gal (technically), cheering Julia up with his “jungle cat” moves on the d-floor and with the reassurance that she did the right thing by letting Michael go. This twist in the plot is what makes My Best Friend’s Wedding such a good, surprising romantic comedy. It’s also what makes me glorify gay men as dependable, debonair and altogether more interesting than straight men. (Sorry, Michael. You’re handsome but you’re kind of an idiot.)
I’m not sure why I thought this realization was noteworthy. Maybe it’s because I’m finally getting to that age when love has the potential to be real. I mean, for God’s sake, Cameron Diaz’s character was a 20 year-old a rising senior in college when she and Michael got engaged. Yehk. But I guess what I take away from George Downes is that, while I may not be experiencing my “happily ever after” for a while (or want to, for that matter), my gay best friend can offer me a “happily for now”: he can tell me I’m worth something, cuddle with me, and tell me he adores me despite the thing between my legs that he’s afraid of. Now that’s true love.
(Side note: I love you, Doug.)