About three years ago, I initially tested this theory in a series of experiments that have served as the foundation of my research program on gay-straight relationships.
In these experiments, straight female participants were shown fictitious Facebook profiles depicting either a straight woman, straight man or gay man.
(After all, straight women and gay men don’t mate with one another.) However, this is precisely the reasoning behind my approach.
Because gay men don’t mate with women – or compete with them for mates – women feel a certain level of comfort with gay men, and the process of forming a close friendship can occur relatively quickly.
Not only were women more apt to trust gay men under this condition, but we also found that they became more willing to make gay male friends.
The downside is that if a straight woman values her gay male friends only for dating advice, the relationship could become quite superficial (see Chris Riotta’s essay “I’m Gay, Not Your Accessory”).
We predicted that this would most often occur in highly competitive dating environments, where a trustworthy source like a gay friend would be valued by women jockeying with one another for a boyfriend.
Recently, my colleagues and I at the University of Texas at Arlington developed a series of four related studies.
This time, however, I wanted to see if women would only trust gay men’s dating-related advice as opposed to other types of advice.
It turns out straight women only trusted a gay man’s advice more than the same advice from, say, a straight man or another straight woman.
For instance, a recent study in the revealed that straight women tend to hire gay men over other heterosexual individuals because they perceive gay men to be more competent and warmer.
Furthermore, marketing researchers have suggested that straight women prefer to work with gay male sales associates over others in consumer retail settings.