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Gay Men Share What It's Like Taking Female Friends to Get Abortions

Jun 2 2016 5:40 PM
Gay Men Share What It's Like Taking Female Friends to Get Abortions

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We asked gay men who’ve taken their friends to get abortions what it was like to be a clueless yet comforting presence at the local clinic.

In a baffling attempt at humor, the conservative website The Daily Caller published a satirical news story last year about an "elite" abortion clinic that offered simulated abortions for gay men.

"Brayden is so, so special to me, and we both agree that having the right to choose is incredibly important," says one of the fake gay people quoted in the article. "We shouldn't lose the ability to affirm that choice simply because we're gay."

It's hard to imagine gays being so pro-choice that they'd be willing to undergo a fake abortion just to affirm their loyalty to the cause. But while the article's conceit reeks of paranoia—a gay-feminist axis of evil enjoys the simulation of abortion—the writer accidentally hits on a fair point when quoting a fake expert who says the simulated procedure is popular because "women's reproductive rights are a much more abstract matter for gay men." This is sadly true: For all of our love and support of our vagina-having friends, half of us gays don't even remember what ovulation means. Maybe that's why women feel most at ease taking us to the local Planned Parenthood; we are so soothingly removed from every aspect of the situation at hand that we're basically compassionate aliens.

We asked gay men who've taken their best female friends to get abortions what it was like to be a clueless yet comforting presence at the local clinic. Here's what they had to say.

David, the Drag Queen and Third Wheel

When my friend called me up and asked me to take her and her boyfriend to an abortion clinic, I felt like the wrong person to provide emotional support. This was the 90s, honey, and I was a mess. All my friends were dying. I wasn't much support for anything except wine and cocaine and maybe some heroin.

A lot of people projected on me at that time because I was the drag queen with HIV. I worked in the nightclubs and I was almost a public figure who was super upfront about his identity. I was really close to my emotions because it was a really raw time, so people felt like I had some special emotional depth, you know?

At the clinic, I remember the waiting room was calm but sad and solemn. The lighting was surprisingly good. I didn't know what was going on between my friend and this guy but it was obviously tense or they wouldn't have needed a third person buffer. Afterwards, we all got french fries at a lesbian bar.

Afterwards, we all got french fries at a lesbian bar.

The boyfriend was very quiet during the whole thing. Later, I found out he'd been cheating on her with two other women. He was dead to me after that. He was, and still is, the kind of person who uses people. I still see him at clubs, but he's short so it's easy to casually ignore him by looking over his head.

Brendan, a Date Rape in Wisconsin

It was 1990, our senior year of high school. Over spring and summer, we'd had nonstop house and hotel parties and on one of those nights, my friend was date raped. She felt she'd encouraged it by making out with a longtime crush of hers while drunk.

We lived in one of the conservative parts of Wisconsin, so we drove all the way to neighboring Chicago because we didn't want to be noticed or seen. I think we were also hoping that, because it was such a large city, there would be a bunch of other people there and it wouldn't be a lonely experience. We were young and naive and had no idea that Wisconsin and Illinois were in the midst of passing highly restrictive abortion laws.

I remember pulling up to see a crowd of protestors outside the clinic. I kind of left my body at that moment, but I distinctly remember this family who brought their toddlers and they were holding fetus signs. Two young girls—probably five and seven—all of them screaming at me and my friend. I don't remember my time in the lobby or walking out of the clinic, but I distinctly remember that family: what they were wearing, in what positions they were standing.

My friend was understandably terrified and ashamed and a million other emotions. I made a joke once, years later, that she chose me because I was obviously gay and had my own car. I think there's some truth to that, honestly. I didn't have a great relationship with my parents either, which was widely known to my friend's circle, so I could be gone for long stretches of time and not raise suspicion or have my miles or gas checked on the car. I was a pretty clueless, deeply closeted kid so maybe people could sense I was struggling with stuff, too, and was a safe zone for anything outside the norm at the time. She still claims she chose me because I was voted Most Compassionate at our graduation.

She still claims she chose me because I was voted Most Compassionate at our graduation.

We never really talked about it afterwards. My friend is very private and guarded. I tried asking some questions on the ride home, and it was pretty clear she didn't want to talk about anything. So we sat in silence. I have beat myself up a lot about not pushing myself more to console or say, "Tell someone," but I was taking my cues from her. Mostly I was just underprepared for this and felt kind of paralyzed.

Things were awkward after that for the rest of the summer. I was a reminder of "that day," so I totally get it now. But it was hard then because it felt like a little bit of a rejection at the time. I tried broaching the subject a few times when we'd get together with our group of friends. Not in front of people, of course: I remember getting a clear indication that it was off-limits.

I am a fairly strident pro-choice feminist now. Being gay and having been a part of this experience has shaped a lot of views for me and helped me unlearn a lot of bad philosophy growing up.

I marvel that we did this at 18 years of age (technically I was 17), without internet in a very hostile Midwestern environment. There was no "Shout Your Abortion" movement, and the right-wing had done a fairly successful job of shaming and stigmatizing women.

Daniel, a Friend and Roberto

Zoey and I lived in different cities in Montana but she drove two hours to my place because she wanted to keep her abortion a secret. She came from a very Catholic family in a small town, and I had my own apartment in the most liberal city in the state. She knew I was amenable to her situation.

She came with her boyfriend Roberto, and the surgery was rough on her, so they both stayed a week to recover. She was a real trooper about it, though, and there wasn't much great emotional upheaval that was shared with me. Roberto was definitely on board—I wouldn't be surprised if it was his idea.

I remember there was a lot of sleeping and being quiet. They smoked a lot of weed and I didn't back then. My most vidid memory is of her lying quietly in my bed with her hands on her stomach.

I wasn't really the gay you turned to in times of crises.

I wasn't really the gay you turned to in times of crises. I was freshly out, and I had only retained one or two very close female friends from high school (I purged after I came out and moved). I had no problem at all with her needing the procedure, but Roberto was a grouch about the type of clothing detergent I used! He came from a rich family and was kind of a snob. He was hot, though.

Sam and The Psycho

A former batshit friend told me that if I didn't take her to Planned Parenthood, she would tell the authorities that I was the father of her child. I thought she was joking at first, but she said several times that she wasn't. Wanting to avoid Maury, I went.

I mean, what can I say? I was 19, naive, and caring, still in the afterglow of high school. Everything was dramatized in my world, and I was convinced that I would have to go through a paternity test and jump through legal hoops to prove I wasn't the baby-daddy if I refused to go with her.

In addition to coercing me, she also subjected me to all her grief and blame just because I was the closest person around. It would have been nice if, afterwards, she'd at least showed me some love, caring, and or gratitude — like "Hey, let's chill, have some wine and watch our favorite movie! I ordered pizza! I just wanted to thank you for being there for me!" — but she didn't.

Suffice to say, our friendship was aborted the next day.

All names have been changed.

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