Despite some encouraging recent advances, gay and lesbian characters remain underrepresented in mainstream media, and the ones who do appear tend to have it pretty rough. Even in 2012, many still get assigned to the role of “Gay Best Friend Who Advises and Comforts the Straight Female Lead,” where they’re very clever and very supportive and don’t get to have personal lives of their own. The lesbians, meanwhile, always seem to be the characters that really terrible things happen to all the time. Here’s a list of some of queer best friends in pop culture who need to make some better friends. If you’ve got any you’d like to share, list them in the comments!
Damian, Mean Girls
Listen, we love Mean Girls as much as the next person, but does Damian actually do anything but be inappropriately funny? His best friends, Janice and Cady, are so obsessed with taking down the popular girls that the only way he can even get noticed is by making quips, and both of them take turns calling him “too gay to function.” Clearly they don’t appreciate his sparkling wit as much as they should.
Brandon, Easy A
Being gay in high school can be a terrifying experience, especially when you’re actively being bullied. In a fit of desperation, Brandon seeks out Olive (Emma Stone), who first tells him to pretend to be straight and then takes it one step further and fakes having sex with him at a party just so she can maintain the illusion that she’s an enormous slut. And after that? He disappears from the entire movie – so basically his only function is to assist Olive in ruining her reputation so that the plot can continue.
George, My Best Friend’s Wedding
Can we say anything redeeming about Julia Roberts’ character? First of all, she makes a pact with this guy that they’ll get married at 28 if they haven’t found anyone else. Twenty-eight? Those pacts are meant for when you’re 40 or 50, not when you’re at an age when most of your friends aren’t even married yet. And then she goes to his wedding just to sabotage it, and brings along her gay friend George (Rupert Everett) to pretend he’s her fiancé in order to make the groom jealous. Why would anyone want to be friends with this person? George, get out of there! Stop enabling this woman!
Santana Lopez, Glee
Recently, Santana came out as a lesbian. And when we say “came out,” we mean that she was essentially forced out by her fellow glee-club member Finn, who loudly chastised her in the middle of a high school hallway for keeping her sexual orientation a secret. Jeez, Finn, coming out is supposed to be an intensely personal decision. Thanks for making sure it was completely out of Santana’s hands by shouting her sexual orientation as loudly as you possibly could!
George Hanson, The Object of My Affection
In this movie, a pregnant woman named Nina (Jennifer Aniston) is so in love with her gay friend George (Paul Rudd) that she leaves her long-time boyfriend and asks George to help her raise the kid instead as a platonic surrogate father. And then when he falls in love with a man, as gay men are wont to do, she feels hurt and insulted that he has the nerve to want a sex life. He would have been much better off with friends who weren’t living with the delusion that it’s possible to turn a gay dude straight.
Wallace Wells, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Wallace Wells is the best character in the whole movie. There, we said it. And what does his awesomeness get him? Scott Pilgrim, an unemployed dweeb who sleeps in his bed, eats his food, whines to him about his girl problems, and then doesn’t follow his advice. Worst of all, Scott beats up Wallace Wells’ favorite actor because of some chick who’s too cool for him! Hands up: Who would rather have watched Wallace Wells vs. the World instead?
Robert, The Next Best Thing
First Madonna (her character has a name but we don’t care: it’s Madonna) has a one-night stand with her gay friend, who is once again played by poor Rupert Everett. Then she gets pregnant and they decide to raise the child. That’s all well and good, but then Madonna wants to get married and all of a sudden the movie devolves in a ludicrously bitter custody battle that rivals Kramer vs. Kramer. Her lawyer even questions Robert’s “deviant behavior” so he won’t get to raise his son anymore. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Poor Tara. Her relationship with Willow is beautiful, but over the course of two seasons she is assaulted by an evil god and driven insane, her girlfriend manipulates her memory to make her forget fights they’ve had, and ultimately she’s shot in the chest in a classic fridge-stuffing moment just to provoke a reaction from the other characters. We’re not saying the Scoobies are awful people or anything, but Tara might have benefited from some more normal, less death-prone companions.
Will Truman, Will and Grace
Okay, hear us out: Yes, Will was a huge step forward for the positive portrayal of gay characters in television, and at times he and Grace had a very nuanced friendship. But at other times, Grace becomes shrill, flighty, and downright selfish, and Will has to step in and sort out all her issues. Why can’t Will be the fun, irresponsible one? Why does he always have to become Grace’s disapproving mother? And how come he can’t be rescued by a guy who rides up on a white horse, à la Leo Markus?
Sassy Gay Friend, Second City Improv
Everyone he hangs out with is a famous literary character, and none of them ever ask him how he’s doing. Instead, he’s stuck running in whenever someone’s about to kill themselves, to save the day and return to his apparently romance-free existence. That’s not weird to anyone else? We’re starting to think that maybe Sassy Gay Friend needs a sassy gay friend to tell him to devote some energy to his own life and choices. Except then that sassy gay friend would need a sassy gay friend to tell him the same thing, and it would only get more confusing from there.