I have always shown a lot of love to my tribe of ladies. Loyalty to my friends is definitely one of my most amazeball-qualities. This isn’t to say that I have never gossiped, or done any shifty-girl stuff. I totally have been an asshole at times and I own that. However, it seems socially unacceptable for me to show any love to my tribe of men—the guys in my life that have become my brothers, who teach me, guide me, advise me and love me (and have no desire to sleep with me). I have always believed that men and women CAN be just friends, and I’ve always had a wonderful group of dudes to lean on.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the different kinds of shaming we do to each other, whether we realize it or not. I get a LOT of shit for being a woman who makes time for herself and hangs out with men that I’m not married to. I also get a lot of flack for all my gay men. Seriously, call me a fag hag—I DARE YOU—I will kick your ass into next week for calling me that on SO many different levels. The judgments people make about me based on who I spend my time with are completely dated and absolutely ridiculous. Would I have the same conversations if I were hanging out with women?
For that reason, I want to talk about why I love my manfriends.
One year ago today one of my besties introduced me to Camp–it’s a campground up north where the residents/visitors are predominantly gay men. My aunt always tells me that I was a gay man in my former life, and I am totally on board with that. Ah, Camp. It changed my life. Literally—I am a different person now than a year ago not just for the work I’ve been doing on myself, but for all the wonderful brothers I have met at Camp. I know it sounds weird for a 40yr old married mom of 2 hanging out in the woods with a bunch of gay dudes, right? Here is the thing about Camp–it’s magical. Completely fucking magical. Aside from the fact that the grounds are GORGEOUS, and it’s far out enough that the sky is utterly stunning, it’s the mood of camp: people are there to enjoy life. I know it sounds trite and you’re wondering “So what? I go to *insert your fun thing here* and enjoy life”. That’s cool—you do you! Camp is where I do me—I have a 30ft camper that is my away space. It looks like some magical fairy barfed all over it, the walls are covered with things I love, including a mounted unicorn head and the awesome neon sign the Hubs got me for my 40th. Every single time I’m there I have at least a dozen moments where I just look up and thank the universe for putting me on this earth. It’s hard not to be thankful when everyone is so…wonderful. For real, I never would have met most of these guys IRL and that would have sucked. We talk about the most insane and inane things. We can have opposing opinions and still get along. Most importantly it’s one of the very few places in this world where I feel completely safe. The last time I was up there I had been awake for about 38hrs(I work overnights and headed straight up after work) so I slept 9p-1p and one of the guys was banging on my door to make sure I was ok since he hadn’t seen me puttering around and I had been MIA since the evening before. I love friends like that! It’s the equivalent to having a friend that you can just walk in any time and know you are a welcome guest.
One of my favorite things about Camp, and hanging with dudes in general, is that I don’t have to pretend. I don’t have to wear makeup, or even shower. I can just be me. In fact, when I’m at Camp I don’t know how to be anything other than authentic because that is how everyone is–honest and real. And fucking funny—they are so hilarious that I admit, I have peed my pants laughing too hard. Every trip I come home with aching abs because if I’m with any of my boys, we are laughing and embracing life. We bring out the best in each other—each of them possessing qualities that were absent in the men I grew up with. They teach me like my father never did, tease me the way close siblings do(my brothers are 17 and 21yrs older than me), and accept me in a way that my maternal grandfather refused to do. This is what makes them exceptional in my world.
People can talk shit about things they are completely ignorant about and we accept that. Except I don’t. Not anymore. At least, not about things that matter!! I will BS with the best of them until the day I die, but when things Matter(vs. matter) I accept no BS and blow smoke up zero assholes. Male friendships are fleeting and always end in disaster? Balderdash! One of my longest friendships is with a guy that I met in film school—we happened to both need a roomie and so began the 20yr friendship. Our relationship has trancended past besties, to framily. Framily is what I call my friends that have become my family. He has lived with me twice, once in college, and once in our 30’s when I talked him into moving to Hotlanta. He has been there for me always, and even when we go months without talking I know we are there for each other in a hot second if the need arises. How is a friendship like that any different that my other 20yr friendships? It’s not. Why should I feel shamed when I talk about how much fun we have hanging out? Because I don’t. Not anymore. It is a fuck that I choose NOT to give. My give-a-fucks(GAFs) are finite, and frankly it’s ridonkulous that I ever wasted a fuck worrying about being slut-shamed because I hang out with men. Well, in college it was slut-shaming even though I wasn’t sleeping with any of my dudes cuz they are my DUDES. Now it’s more of a mom-shaming hybrid because *gasp* I put my mental well-being before my children. I’ll get into that at a later date, I can only get out one soapbox at a time.
What about ex’s? Do they count? Perhaps were you never “meant to be” in the first place, but meant to be friends forever? I have a 17yr friendship that proves this can be true. My friendship with this dude is truly framily. He has my back when I don’t know I need it, he has talked me through so much DIY home improvement, and has always been a wealth of relationship advice–but, like, USEFUL relationship advice. If anything, being friends with an ex is incredibly easy after all the heartbreak nonsense is over because, depending on the relationship, they have seen it all and will call your bullshit. My favorite friends call me on my bullshit and I have grown to love it. Not all ex’s will be friends, in fact I have at least one that I hope to never see again as long as I live. It’s not that I wish he would get covered in glue and run into a beehive, I just choose to not GAF about his existence. I learned my lessons—the universe got me good with that one, and now I’ve moved on. Buzz, buzz bizzzotch!
Yes, men and women are incredibly different, and each friendship fulfills a different need within us. But whether I’m drinking a beer with the guys or having wine night with the ladies, my friends have always been the foundation for me. I left PA when I was 22 and moved to GA without knowing a single person. I go home occasionally, but when I was young and poor I would go a year or two without seeing my family, hence creating my framily. This is how I have always operated as an adult. I love some my family because I have to, I love all my framily because I choose to. These relationships are not more or less because they are with men or women. They are strong because the people are strong. My framily is built of positive, confident people that inspire the best in each other and have each other’s best interests at heart no matter what.
Today I just want to let the men who call me a friend know that I love them, I am thankful for them, and they help make me a better person in more ways than I can count.