By Ben Cartwright
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore — they’re total setups for failure. To those of who made any kind of resolution, though, I wish you the best of luck and hope you succeed in whatever personal or professional goal you want to achieve. With that said, this new year, there is a new way of looking at something in my life that has bothered me for some time.
I’m not much of a reality TV watcher, and definitely never really been into “The Real Housewives” franchise, but lately, when I’ve been over at my friend Rick Cervantes’ house, he’s been watching whatever the most recent season of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” is on Netflix … and I admit, I got hooked. The petty fighting, drama, and excess can suck you in pretty easily.
My favorite character on the show, besides the fabulous Lisa Vanderpump, is Kyle Richards. To me, she seems like one of the kinder, more together cast members, and I like her on-screen personality. In one particular episode (super fans: forgive me if I have some of the details wrong — it’s the basic premise that is the point of this!), Kyle was speaking to another cast member about an upcoming celebratory trip to Las Vegas that she was planning. There was concern because some of the ladies do not all like each other, but Kyle didn’t want to have to say she wasn’t going to invite so and so because she doesn’t get along with so and so. Instead, she made a decision: I will invite all my friends, whether they like each other or not, and it will be their decision to be an adult and get along with whomever for the weekend or choose to not come. I loved that!
For so many years, I have had friends and acquaintances who don’t like each other for a variety of reasons, and it can make for such awkward, frustrating, and just annoying situations. The reasons various friends don’t like each other run the gamut, from petty things like “I think he talks too much” to friends who literally have legal disputes with each other. I’m tired of making plans with friends and having to keep a mental recollection of who I can’t invite because they may not get along or having to hide my social media posts from certain people, so I don’t have to hear it from them about why I was hanging out with certain people.
Enough is enough. We’re all adults, including me, and I’m going to hang out with and associate with whomever I want and no longer worry about which of my other friends will be upset by it.
I’m a social person and I’ve got a pretty diverse group of friends and acquaintances who are of all backgrounds, ages, political persuasions, religions (or non-religions), activists, party animals, professionals, creatives, and so much more. Now I get that some people have some fundamental disagreements over things like politics — but I do a pretty good job filtering who I associate with, and I would never force any friend to associate with someone who doesn’t believe in basic human rights for all people. Besides that, everything else is just differences of opinion or personality.
If I’m going to host a gathering where I want to be around all of my friends, I’m no longer going to filter the guest list or worry about hiding the social media invite from certain people. If I’m out with a friend, and I run into another friend who doesn’t like my friend, I’m not going to hide or duck out of the venue so the two don’t have to see each other. I’m just going to put me and all of my wild, diverse, fabulous friends out there. They can choose to get along or not, but I’m no longer going to worry myself with people’s petty differences that make them choose to dislike each other.
Come one, come all, I love (most) people! But it will always be your choice whether to accept an invitation with me based on who the other guests are, and one of my very few rules of friendship will now require that you at least respect my other friends, who you may not like, should you run into them while I’m in both your presences.
Otherwise, I’m easy! (Go where you want with that!)
Happy New Year!
—Benny Cartwright is a local LGBT activist and Nicky Award’s 2018 Man of the Year. Benny can be contacted at Benny.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Byline photo by Rob Lucas Modern Aperture Photography.