Posted at 9:52 AM Aug 18, 2009By Andrea Grimes
... turned what was once a special relationship between two cultural outsiders--gay men and the straight women who love them -- into an eye-rolling cliché. It also turned me and other young gay men into something unexpected: a must-have item.This resonated with me. As a graduate of New York University, and as a straight female graduate of that school, it was practically assumed that the first gay boy I ran into in the dorms would become my four-year confidante on all things relationship- and fashion-related. The school was already sixty percent female, and of the forty percent of men there, it was generally accepted that at least half of those dudes were gay. And yet I never ran into that fate-supplied gay boy. (I will say that at the time, as a just-released-into-the-wild conservative Christian, I was far too concerned with straight boys to have much time for boys who didn't want to make out with me.)
I was, however, confused by the way many of the women I knew at school treated their "fags." The relationships seemed to waver between inappropriate, hopeless lust (see Episode 74 of the Savage Love podcast for a further discussion of this) and downright emotional abuse--as in, "Please listen to me whine about why don't I have a boyfriend, also, pick out some shoes for me, and take me to the gay bar, where it'll be too loud for me to hear you talk."
Of course, these are generalizations, and I'm happy to say that I knew many women who loved their fags and vice-versa and on the whole seemed to have healthy situations. I'm not sure why I never became one of them, apart from the fact that it's hard for a serial monogamist to, again, have much time for someone she's not screwing. Alas, generalizations are something Rogers does not shy away from in his Salon piece. They do create a mood even if they don't paint Rogers as having the world's most nuanced understanding of hetero women:
Shopping gave me panic attacks. Most of my close friends smelled vaguely of patchouli and, instead of show tunes, I spent much of my time listening to Scandinavian drone rock. For most of high school, I had the social skills of a terrified third-grader. I didn't particularly understand what I had to offer as a confidant to anybody, much less straight women with endless romantic problems and a passion for trying on Capri pants.Ah, dear Thomas, as all of you gays are not Liza-loving twinks, all of us ladies are not shopping-fetished dippy-doos. Going on, in his discussion of the degeneration of the term "fag hag" itself, Rogers illustrates an interesting point: gay men, in many places, perhaps no longer need the leading hands of straight women to make it into the mainstream:
If part of the glue that holds together the fag hag relationship is the gay man's need for refuge from the mean jocks and the judgmental parents, what happens when the jocks and the parents stop caring? As the New York Times recently pointed out, friendships between gay men and straight men are no longer the taboo they once were. Most of the gay men I know (especially those my age) are happily mixing with all combination of sexes and sexualities, and, for my part, I'm as likely to take a straight male friend to a gay bar as a straight woman.
More and more, the fag hag is becoming a relic of another era...
Which again speaks to the original creeps I got from my college gal pals who seemed unable to separate themselves from their gay boyfriends: aren't these guys people, who need people-things, who are not only around to act as guide dogs in the (admittedly) confusing world of dating as a twentysomething? Too often, the Will's of the Will-and-Graces are, as Rogers notes, neutered. Furniture. Good-looking, stylish furniture, but furniture nonetheless.
It seems to me that often, fag-haggery is too predicated on sexuality, to an uncomfortable degree. Plopping down and spilling your guts to someone--as Thomas Rogers says many women did to him in hopes of gay-boyfriendery--purely because he's a homosexual, seems belittling, marginalizing. Can't we, as Rogers puts it, just all be "friends," not fags and hags?