Sometimes gay men have more in common with straight men than we realize… especially when it comes to footing the bill.
Chivalry is alive and well… truly. Ask any gay guy who’s just been for drinks with one of his female friends if you don’t believe me.
Because you can guarantee, in the vast majority of cases, the gay guy will have spent considerably more than his companion-of-the-opposite-sex during the meet-up, despite the fact this isn’t always reflected in ‘who drunk what.’
It’s an odd habit we’ve fallen into, that, I feel, doesn’t ever really get acknowledged.
Of course, much has been made of this same debate when it comes to straight men and women; should the man pay for dinner on the first date? Should the woman offer to split it – as a gesture – with no intention of actually digging into her purse? Or should she be more of a feminist, and insist on paying her way, in a post-Me Too era, so as not to be indebted to the man she’s out with?
It’s a minefield, for sure. But at least the debate is rooted in some logic in the hetero world. Traditionally, men have been brought up to believe that they should foot the bill when it comes to taking a lady out. And, historically, most women embrace this tradition. Not only embrace but, as it turns out, expect it to be adhered to.
(Eavesdrop on a conversation with a group of women at lunch, and pay close attention to the reaction if the bombshell is dropped that the guy didn’t get the bill; listen for gasps, pearl-clutching and general horror at the notion..!)
But I’m not wading into that. I’m not straight, and I do understand that that debate is complicated, and I can about see both sides of it.
But what I don’t see both sides of is how gay men got dragged into this. Part of the logic explaining why straight men have ended up perpetually footing the bill for women – and apologies for the bluntness on this, but try and deny it – is because they usually’re trying to get them into bed. Yes, I know we’re in a modern world, women enjoy sex as much as men blah blah, but even today we haven’t entirely eradicated the general pattern of women continuing to ultimately hold the final decision in terms of whether or not intercourse takes place, and maintaining their role as ‘the seduced’ and ‘the woo’ed,’ rather than the ones required to spread their peacock feathers for mating season.
This is not the case when it comes to gay men. When I meet my friend Tabitha for a drink, there is no grey area about whether or not we’re going to end up in bed together. Unless there’s been a breakup and that bed involves a Sex and the City marathon and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. And even in that hypothetical, guess who will have forked out over a fiver for the B&J? That’s right, not Tabitha, despite the fact, her PR firm is doing VERY well, thank you very much. Even if I am the one doing the sobbing, it’s unlikely I’ve been treated.
The truth is, a lot of women expect men to pay for everything. And by men, I mean: straight men, gay men, white men, black men, fat men, skinny men, ALL men. And, after some careful reflection, I’ve realized that… well, we can’t blame them. Entirely, anyway.
Let’s face it; girls are brought up to believe that is the way to be. The same way that boys are brought up to think they should hold open doors for girls, pull out chairs and – crucially – Pay For The Drinks.
Fair enough. But also, NOT fair. So I am taking a stand. As gay men, we qualify for no part in these traditions. When we’re out with a female friend, we’re not trying to coax them into bed, and we’re not apologizing for all the privilege we’re bringing to the dinner table.
So why are we still fucking paying for everything?
I can count on one weary hand the number of dinners or lunches that a female friend has treated me to in the last ten years in London. When it does happen, it sticks out in my mind vividly, like a bloody terrorist attack, undeniably memorable because of how shocking and rarely it occurs.
I am continually treating my female companions. Constantly. Is it your birthday? I’ll get this. Danny treated you like shit last week? Oh, I’ll get this. You’re maybe, possibly, hopefully in line for a semi-promotion next year? Congrats! I’ll get this…
So yes, I recognize. I am part of the problem. I was brought up, before I was gay – or knew it anyway – to view women as delicate flowers that need to be handled with care, love, and respect. And I believe that genuinely that’s what women do deserve. I love women – don’t get it twisted.
And I do enjoy treating the women in my life that I love the most. And the men. But seriously, would it be that much of an ask to just now and then, as a gesture, if nothing else, get a lunch back from one of these ladies? Really?
I don’t think so. So, any gay men reading this, think about your best girls. Review your last few dates. Review the bill. Does this sound hauntingly familiar? I bet it does.
If so, maybe we all need to take a stand, and be the change we want to see in the world, and say: ‘You know what bitch..?’ – used with affection, of course – ‘…I’m tired of paying for your God damn Wagamamas… it’s your turn, OK!?
Right. I’m glad I got that off my chest. Shall we go now? And don’t worry… I’ll get this one.