I never wanted to be your fag hag!

Posted at 9:52 AM Aug 18, 2009

By Andrea Grimes

faghag.jpg
Today in Salon, Thomas Rogers makes a bold, practically taboo statement: I may be gay, but ladies, I am not your gay boyfriend! Rogers, never himself on the fag end of fag-haggery, talks about the problems of being tagged and marginalized by many straight women in his life who felt inclined to attach themselves to him on a basis of ... what? An episode of Will and Grace or Sex and the City? The shows, he says:

... 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?

Comments

Susan said:

Another way in which I am a gay man in a straight girl's body: Strangers and practical strangers always open up and spill their hearts to me. I get a lot of didn't-want-to-know-that family relationships. Also, there was that girl who asked if I was a feminist and then wanted to know whether I thought she should marry her boyfriend or move to LA to be a model.

Saturn said:

Our freshman year, my best friend since third grade came out. He'd been an unpopular nerd all his life, but as soon as he was out of the closet, BAM...every trendy/artsy/fashionista girl wanted to be his best friend and take him out in public and show him off like they had bought a new handbag. I think there are girls who just happen to end up making friends with lots of gay guys, and then there are girls who hunt them down like it was an Olympic Sport. Sickening.

Mjx said:

Is anybody else with me on this: Unless you have fallen in love/lust with someone, who cares what their sexual inclinations are? As far as I'm concerned, people are... people, which seems to matter far more than male/female, gay/straight.

Or is it just that the particular gay men of my acquaintance occasionally do something other than screw, so their sexual preferences (along with those of everyone else I know) are pretty irrelevant, which might explain the reason that we manage to do things together that don't involve sex (or fashion!), and talk about work, art, books, whether or not Reese's Pieces have deteriorated/changed, body hair, sports, ethics, and, alas, how-fat-we're-all-getting-but-pass-me-another-slice-of-cake.

Mark said:

YES! Yes and yes. Here is a great segment on this from current TV: http://current.com/items/90152648_tvs-gay-friend-obsession.htm

I, for one, LOATHE the idea of being someone's gay best friend. Best friend? Yes, please! But not because I'm gay. One friend of mine once told me after a night out that I was her "favorite gay friend." I stopped her right there and said, "Whoa. That is not okay with me." I find it extremely offensive and condescending. Essentially, it makes me feel like I'm a pet.

BorgQueen said:

I grew up around gays and lesbians as my mom is an artist, and as one growing up in the 60s and 70s, her group became the outcasts of that era (ie, gays, minorities, etc.). There was nothing unusual or fascinating to me about gays, like someone of a different race or religion, it was just another thing about that person that just WAS. So I have always been comfused and annoyed by the idea of the gay boyfriend. The gays I knew in school and know now are just "friends," no prefix. I have been called fag hag in the past but never took it as anything more than a funny term of endearment. It is pathetic to see girls throwing themselves all over gay men in an attempt to be a Grace. If I were a gay man I would be thoroughly disgusted and insulted at this behavior. No one wants to be the "token" anything.

kohaku said:

My best friend is gay, and from a vouyeristic, sensationalized standpoint we would appear to be fag and hag, but there is nothing that digusts us more than phrases like "Gay guys are a girl's best accessory!". Much like Saturn's story, we were unpopular throughout our whole schooling period (and we met in pre-school) but as soon as he came out mid-highschool, every girl pandered to him like a junkie and a druglord. It is sickening to think how many women out there carry this pre-concieved notion of judgement that a gay man is a key piece.

kohaku said:

My best friend is gay, and from a vouyeristic, sensationalized standpoint we would appear to be fag and hag, but there is nothing that digusts us more than phrases like "Gay guys are a girl's best accessory!". Much like Saturn's story, we were unpopular throughout our whole schooling period (and we met in pre-school) but as soon as he came out mid-highschool, every girl pandered to him like a junkie and a druglord. It is sickening to think how many women out there carry this pre-concieved notion of judgement that a gay man is a key piece.

kohaku said:

My best friend is gay, and from a vouyeristic, sensationalized standpoint we would appear to be fag and hag, but there is nothing that digusts us more than phrases like "Gay guys are a girl's best accessory!". Much like Saturn's story, we were unpopular throughout our whole schooling period (and we met in pre-school) but as soon as he came out mid-highschool, every girl pandered to him like a junkie and a druglord. It is sickening to think how many women out there carry this pre-concieved notion of judgement that a gay man is a key piece.

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