About the Book

A celebration of one of the most important relationships in a straight girl’s life—her gay best friend.

Thanks to iconic duos such as Sex and the City’s Carrie and Stanford and the title characters of Will & Grace, the love affair between straight women and gay men has moved into the mainstream. Never before, though, has a book looked at these friendships in the real world.

The editors, themselves best friends, have put together this collection of hilarious and poignant never-before-published essays that explore this unique relationship. In addition to stories about single girls and gay guys bonding over shopping sprees and brunch, these stories chronicle love and lust, infatuation and heartbreak, growing up and coming out, and family and children.

With a foreword by bestselling author Armistead Maupin, the anthology includes contributions from Sex and the City producer and columnist Cindy Chupack, creative director of Barneys New York Simon Doonan, National Book Award winner Andrew Solomon, New York Observer editor Alexandra Jacobs, Village Voice columnist Michael Musto, Gawker.com founder Elizabeth Spiers, and bestselling novelists Gigi Levangie Grazer, David Levithan, David Ebershoff, and Ayelet Waldman, among others.

Straight women and gay men alike will relate to these tales from a diverse array of contributors, ranging from literary novelists to Emmy Award winners, single girls about town to mothers of four, downtown performance artists to Hollywood scenesters. This definitive anthology, the first of its kind, proves that more durable than diamonds, straight women and gay men are each other’s true best friends.

About the Essays

The book is divided into five sections, each dealing with a different aspect of this relationship. Gays and Gals focuses on group dynamics, whether it’s a gaggle of frivolous fashionistas or lifelong friends who have helped each other through infatuation and heartbreak. In “Shop Girls,” Karen Robinovitz writes a paean to the only men in her life who truly “get her,” those style mavens who make her world sparkle. Simon Doonan, in “Fag Hags: The Laughter, the Tears, The Marabou,” looks back to 1970s London, painting a portrait of the wacky, often drunk girls who ruled his social universe. In “The Collectors,” K.M. Soehnlein muses on the important women in his life and how he collects them just as they have collected him. Cecil Castellucci travels from New York to Montreal to Paris in “My Fairy Godfathers” as she rhapsodizes about a trio of boys who helped her get over a guy she thought was “the one.” And in “That Unsettling Feeling,” Mike Albo describes his confusion as his bevy of girlfriends have settled down, gotten married, and had children while he has remained single.

Close Confidants is about those one-on-one relationships that are the bedrock of many a straight woman and gay man’s life. Beginning in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, Alexandra Jacobs provides “A Harvard (Fag) Hag-iography,” a peek at an idiosyncratic friendship marked by loyalty and witticisms. In “My Best Girlfriend,” James Lecesne pens a letter to his favorite gal that reveals a close-knit bond in the New York theater world. Hollywood insider Gigi Levangie Grazer, in “My Dinners with Tom,” writes a loving elegy to her favorite waiter at The Ivy, recalling the lessons he taught her before his untimely death. In “Man’s Best Friend,” David Ebershoff tells a bittersweet story about the years he spent employing an eccentric female dog walker who took an unusual interest in his personal life. And Wendy Mass, in “Marriage Material,” affectionately reminisces about her long-time friendship with a quirky wildlife enthusiast.

A Fine Romance is filled with stories of love and lust, from mixed signals and comic misunderstandings to well-intentioned advice and tearful resignation. Stacey Ballis, in “Everything I Always Wanted to Know About Sex (and Life) I Learned From Gay Men” reveals how her gays have brought her out into “a pink spotlight” at the times when she needed it most. In “Love in Other Lifetimes,” Anna David experiences the quintessential straight girl-gay guy conundrum: No matter how strong the connection, is it ever really possible to “convert” someone? Tom Dolby, in “Future Perfect,” chronicles a year in his life when he was unduly influenced by a female psychic who claimed to have an inside line on his romantic affairs. In “A Manhattan Love Story,” Melissa de la Cruz recalls the adoration and loss she shared with her best male friend, and the ways in which their friendship made her into the woman she is today. Sarah Kate Levy explains in “Super Couple” how the fidelity of two friends inspired her to stop pining over an unavailable man and to marry one who would give her the love she deserved. And in “Get This,” Cindy Chupack finds that a final meeting with her gay ex-husband gives her much-needed closure on a difficult time in her life.

Growing Up, Coming Out is about friendships that started in the formative years, with outcast girls and misfit guys banding together. In “The Good Girls,” David Levithan fondly recalls his high school posse of gal pals, while Michael Musto remembers the girls he played with in childhood in “Welcome to My Dollhouse.” Brian Sloan looks back on his grade school sidekick and how one disastrous night at the prom derailed their friendship in “Donny and Marie Don’t Get Married.” In “Life Before Gays,” Elizabeth Spiers describes what it’s like to grow up as a gay-friendly girl in a red state. Zakiyyah Alexander, in “The Long Trip Home,” recounts her bohemian Brooklyn upbringing and the high school friend whom she willed not to come out because she knew it would change everything. In “Lay It All Down,” Edwin John Wintle tells of a woman he met as a teen who helped him transition into adulthood while fueling his passion for the 1960s. And in “Shutterspeed,” Bennett Madison details with snapshot-like accuracy an intense adolescent friendship that continues to this day.

The ties that bind are the subject of the last section, Father and Daughters, Mothers and Sons. Andrew Solomon, in “In Praise of Women,” describes his love for the women in his life, from his late mother to his young goddaughters. In “Family Albums,” Philip Himberg relates the moving story of his high school girlfriend and how years later, she was able to give him and his partner a daughter, now fifteen. Abigail Garner speaks from the other side, in “Like Father, Like Daughter”: Her father came out when she was in kindergarten, and she has spent her life trying to understand both him and her strong affinity for the gay community. In “Sitting in the Dark with My Mother,” Zach Udko comes to terms with his highly theatrical mother and why, despite his flamboyant upbringing, it was so difficult for her to accept his coming out. And finally, carrying it on to the next generation, in “Darling, I Like You That Way,” mother of four Ayelet Waldman defends her not-so-secret wish that at least one of her two sons would turn out gay—or at least would have some of the qualities that she values so much in her gay friends.