As long as there have been openly gay characters in mainstream cinema, says Ryan Gilbey in the British magazine New Statesman, there have been "GBFs" — gay best friends who hang around to "define everyone else on screen as heterosexual." Dating back to Sal Mineo's role as James Dean's sexually-ambiguous best friend in Rebel Without a Cause, the GBF has popped up in everything from Mrs. Doubtfire to this month's Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, which features "one of cinema's great GBFs," Kieran Culkin's Wallace Wells. But how do you recognize a true GBF? Here's an excerpt:
The character in question must be unapologetic about his/her sexuality but there should be no explicit suggestion that he/she actually enjoys any meaningful physical relationships. The general assumption should be that they have no external life, no existence when not providing succor for the main character.
Or, if they do, then their sexuality must in some way be an issue, or a narrative motor, as in the case of The Object of My Affection, where Paul Rudd is (as usual) so good he almost makes you forget that the entire film is built around the Cosmo-style think-piece question of what might happen if a straight woman got it on with her GBF.