GBF: How Different Forms of Homosexuality Function in the Modern Patriarchy

gbf movie soundrack image

One popular trend that originated in the 90’s is the concept of a Gay Best Friend. A Gay Best Friend, or GBF, defined in today’s context, is a male-born homosexual that now expresses feminine qualities. These feminine qualities may often be exaggerated. A Gay Best Friend implies an extravagant, theatrical, and stylish individual. Because of these characteristics, Gay Best Friends are desired for their utility. They serve the purpose of providing friendship for feminine women over common ground such as shopping, style and gossip. This highly coveted relationship seems identical to a female homosocial relationship, but it is structurally very different in that the GBF is accessorized rather than appreciated.

The idea of a Gay Best Friend arises from women’s desire for a mock homosocial relationship. Since they typically express femininity, there is much common ground shared between the female and the Gay Best Friend. The most distinct quality of a Gay Best Friend is the manner in which they behave. A Gay Best Friend provides a woman with a secure, platonic relationship with a masculine figure, without the social pressure for a romantic or sexual relationship. Also, the Gay Best Friend usually expressed exaggerated versions of their perception of femininity. Women often covet these hyper feminizations because they often express dominating features, which are typically coveted by a woman who is disheartened by the oppressive forces of the patriarchy.

All self-identified homosexual people are subjected to the patriarchal-based homophobia that exists in modern society. In the case of homosexual men especially, the line between homosexuality and homosociality is very distinct, and this can be explained by the necessity of homophobia set by the patriarchal mechanism of heterosexual relationships (Sedgwick 698). Homosexual males threaten the foundation of this structure and because of this, the social presence of homosexuality has become taboo. This inspires a lack of confidence and fosters embarrassment of their sexual orientation. The Gay Best Friend differs in that they hold confidence in their sexuality. Some people may distastefully label them “flamboyant”, but, to some this may just translate so confidence. This differentiates them from other homosexual individuals, because their considerably “disagreeable” lifestyles should cause them to oppress their sexual tendencies, but instead they choose to take pride in both their sexual and gender identities. This is what differentiates a stereotypical Gay Best Friend from other homosexual males.

So, you would think that they would closely identify with females through their gender expression, and sexual preferences right? Actually, the answer is no. Although they express feminine qualities, Gay Best Friends structurally serve a different purpose than females in society. Homosexual individuals lie as outcasts in the patriarchal model whereas females serve the purpose of being the submissive companion for masculine men. A GBFs attempt to express their perception of feminine characteristics often tend to be a dominating form of the already existing social-norms expected of women. For instance, the “edgy” or ”sassy” presumption associated with Gay Best Friends is actually more masculinized in contrast to the expected “docile” and “submissive” nature of females. This quality is the basis of a structural difference that exists between the female and the Gay Best Friend. So, even though women and GBFs share similar mentalities, the ideologies forced upon them cause them to be structurally different individuals that serve different functions in society.

So, taking into account all of the different functions each gender and sex serve, there is not a comfortable place in the patriarchy for the Gay Best Friend. They are forced into a limited and foreign category, one that consequentially caricaturizes their assumed qualities and accessorizes the essence of their being. This result is a trendy, superficial desire for individuals who express these qualities while overlooking the patriarchal oppressive forces that are exerted upon them.



  1. Really fascinating stuff here Quinn, you really went in on this! I appreciate your thoroughness, as well as your connection to feminist topics we talked about last week. I had never really thought about the GBF’s “acceptance” into female circles as being accessorized, and I hope its not like this most of the time, but I definitely do see how that could be/is apparent. Furthermore, I think you’re notes on how a GBF can be a non-threatening male companion (in terms of not having to worry about a sexual relationship developing) were astute and insightful.

    I don’t really have anything else to add except you helped put a lot of relationships in the TV show Glee into words for me! I think its really interesting how shows like that suggest ideas like these but in a more accessible/non academic medium, allowing the average person to think about them. With that said, its always nice talking about these ideas from a highly academic perspective!



  2. Quinn, this was great to read. It really helped me put this cultural phenomenon into words, in a clarified manner (as it did for Patrizio).

    However, like, Patrizio, I also had a little bit of trouble comprehending what you meant when you said that “the GBF is accessorized rather than appreciated”. I know you may not mean to generalize, but I would like to think that some of these relationships with supposed GBFs are actually organic and healthy, unless you think otherwise. Saying that they may be “accessorized” implies, to me, that the GBF is a manipulated actor.

    To me, the most apparent function of the GBF is fulfilling women’s desire for mock homosocial relationship, as you mentioned. I wonder why women would be seeking a mock homosocial relationship, though. Is the real thing not always more fulfilling? Are they pushed to pursue this because there may be more conflict and competition strictly among women?

    You explain that “Women often covet these hyper feminizations because they often express dominating features, which are typically coveted by a woman who is disheartened by the oppressive forces of the patriarchy,” and this is an interesting way to look at the matter, but how does an oppressive patriarchy affect the GBF, for that matter?? What do they get out of being a woman’s GBF? Is it merely to better express their femininity? I look forward to discussing this in class.



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