She's bland, reads too much Teen Vogue, and has nothing else going for her, plus you don't have to pretend to care about her. She's your insecure female best friend - and she's in demand.
This spring, sixteen-year-old Julien noticed a new trend at his Provincetown, Massachusetts, high school. The must-have items for his fashionista classmates included a Gitman Brothers Vintage plaid shirt, a pinstripe jacket, brown Deisel shoes, and... an insecure female best friend.
"A few years ago, all the popular, pretty boys were sitting around with a hand in a preppy jock," he says. "Now you'll see them in hallways with a Lacoste watch on one arm and an America Ferrera look-alike on the other." He told us one of his gay boy classmates tweeted: "OMG, watching Oprah makes me want a girl who can't say no to her boyfriend in my life."
The "IFBF" phenomenon - aka insecure female best friend - has definitely picked up over the past decade. (Even if it hasn't, our target readership wasn't aware of much before then so they can't disagree with us. This article will sound topical instead of really just telling these girls the same thing we told their mothers before they had the accident who'll buy this magazine tomorrow.) Glee, Ugly Betty, Sex and the City - pop culture has greatly decreased straight girls' fear and disgust of homosexuals. There's never been a better time to be on the cutting edge and get one of these hot items.
Being part of an IFBF couple has become the new platonic ideal. "It's a little ridiculous how in demand an insecure female best friend has become in the past year," Julien says. And Tyler, 20, from Boystown, finds the new cultural infatuation with misogynistic stereotypes absurd. "I hate all the tired tropes perpetuated by the media," he says. "My best friend, Kim, isn't some self-hating yawn-fest that I take shopping when I can't find a guy on Grindr."
Tyler says he and Kim have been inseparable since the fourth grade, and her vagina is something that he doesn't even notice. "I think of her as my best friend in the world, not my insecure female best friend," he explains. "This interview is all kinds of stupid, since gay men and straight women can be friends just like anyone else. It's not a mystery or a fashion statement, so your article's probably going to sound really vapid when it's written."
To find out more on these trendy relationships, Teen Bilerico talked to Kevin Black, Ph.D., a San Francisco psychologist who knows a thing or two about vaginas, the people who have them, and the people who love the people who have them but not in that way.
According to him, "Gay men really can't have sex all the time, contrary to popular belief. Sometimes, out of sheer sexual fatigue, they need to have relationships with people that involve dialogue and non-sexual entertainment. That's why they usually pick women who are the opposite of the guys they want; a lack of confidence, as well as hygiene and testicles, is a common trait."
Mario, a seventeen-year-old West Villager, found that since becoming so close to his IFBF, he spends less time chasing after straight guys. "It's nice because I don't have to stress about what Katie thinks," he says. "It's not like I want to get in her pants or anything."
Whether they are commiserating about their love lives or getting an insider's perspective on what straight men really think, gay guys and straight girls often turn to each other for some endless chit-chat. "Sometimes even your most casual fuck buddies won't give you the straight-up truth. One minute it's like, yeah, that's awesome, keep doing that. The next it's: don't touch me, don't talk to me, don't call me," says Ricky Garcia, editor of the collection of short stories Boys who Like Like Boys but Also Like Girls. "But with the straight girl in your life, you've got someone you can prattle to endlessly."
That doesn't mean these relationships don't have problems. Julien, for example, noticed that the gay boys at his school can sometimes forget that their IFBF's are actual human beings and cut off conversation with them, mid-sentence, to go have sex in a bathroom stall. "There was one queen who's, like, such a big slut that he wasn't even paying attention to his IFBF and when she asked him what he thought of her new Marc Jacob top he just said 'Yeah, I liked Bad Romance better too' and walked off. They used to treat potted plants this way; now it's the girls who read Teen Vogue."
Black thinks that such extreme cases are clearly unhealthy. "Nobody should ever be treated like a mild amusement," he says. "It's wonderful that society and the media have become so accepting that men are able to go unmarried until age 18 and women can socialize with men without being accompanied by their fathers or husbands, but that culture should never be exploited or treated like a passing trend. People should not be defined by their genitalia."
"Sure, reducing a relationship down to the genders and sexual orientations of the participants is silly," agrees Garcia. "But it sells books. You're going to plug mine, right?"
In the end, what really matters isn't whether your BFs are guys, girls, or potted plants. What matters is proper lubrication and stretching before penetration.
[Ed note: Friendships with other gay boys, let's be honest, are always a teeny bit complicated. I hate to admit it, but I drool over one of my besties, who is as gorgeous as a model; another good pal is so outrageously successful that he paid me do things I don't ever want to think about again. And that's the problem: We boys only have one thing on our minds, and it can just get a bit... intense. Thank Goddess for IFBFs. I live in Indianapolis, so there are many (many!) pathetic women who can't get play and can pretend like they're in a relationship with a man by standing near me. As Alex Blaze reports, insecure straight girls who read Teen Vogue are 2010's murse, but no one deserves to be treated like a passing fad. If you have an IFBF in your life, enjoy feeling superior but remember to fight for her right to choose. --BIL BROWNING, editor in chief.]