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August 18, 2009 8:47 PM   Subscribe

Are the ties that bind gay men to straight women beginning to fray?
posted by Blazecock Pileon (99 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
For every fag hag relationship that fades, a bromance can blossom.

Such is the circle of gag-inducing media-constructed relationship archetypes.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:55 PM on August 18, 2009 [39 favorites]


Could we get the link edited to point to the first page of the article and not the second?
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:56 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess the first and last use of the faghag tag.
posted by crossoverman at 8:58 PM on August 18, 2009


one of the most significant was the popularization of the fag hag (a term the show's buttoned-down characters were too demure to even utter on air)

Also, I'm pretty sure the FCC's fining the living shit out of a network for saying "fag" on the air had a lot more to do with this than any sort of in-character repression did.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:59 PM on August 18, 2009


I am neither a gay man or a straight woman, and I'm struggling to understand what is this article about? Some bloke is grumpy that either he doesn't fit some TV trope, or some TV trope doesn't fit him, or something?

So what?
posted by pompomtom at 9:02 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting. This seems to point to a larger question: If the desire is no longer taboo, can it sustain a culture? No flower codes, no secret signs, no Friends of Dorothy, no shared experience of the closet, no alienation, therefore no celebration of difference?

I guess that'd be okay so long as the former potential Bette Midlers get to bone who they'd like to unashamedly also.
posted by Diablevert at 9:08 PM on August 18, 2009


I never did any of the things this article is talking about, nor did I have any female friends who would call themselves "hags" (what an ew word, BTW). Do I have to turn in my Lavander card now?
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Grace is a faghag bawdlerized for TV. What about Madonna, Lady Ga Ga, Susan Sontag? That's what a real faghag looks like.
posted by idiopath at 9:10 PM on August 18, 2009


I was completely distracted from the main article by the sidebar article: "Excuse me while I stick my head in the toilet. Ever wonder what it would be like to clean strangers' homes for money?"

I mean, seriously? Is upper middle class America really that cut off from the rest of society?
posted by Zinger at 9:13 PM on August 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Diablevert raises an interesting question, pretty much the only things holding "gay male culture in tolerant, not-insane areas" together are sex, socialization, and some shared experiences (the Coming Out Story, etc). Hell, my straight friends no more "gay culture" tidbits than some of my man-loving-mens. There is probably enough sheer source material to sustain a "culture" of sorts, but it'll get blended into a general subcultural slurry (see how other distinct subcultures have been mixed together). And bars will always exist, for obvious reasons.
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 PM on August 18, 2009


I mean, seriously? Is upper middle class America really that cut off from the rest of society?

Upper Middle Major Urban Center, Upper Class Everywhere Else, and kinda. Yes.

And all of them think of themselves as "normal middle-class folks".
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 PM on August 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


"know more* Argh.
posted by The Whelk at 9:17 PM on August 18, 2009


I'm assuming you meant to link to the first page of this interesting article?
posted by Decimask at 9:19 PM on August 18, 2009


You are all my faghags now.
posted by Avenger at 9:20 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


You are all my faghags now.

Not another spousing thread.
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 PM on August 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Theater kids will always run together, and there will always be a place for gay/straight friendships based on high camp, sequins, and weekends in New York. If there is now room for gay/straight friendships based on sports, hip hop, and Star Trek, so much the better.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:23 PM on August 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


I am neither a gay man or a straight woman, and I'm struggling to understand what is this article about...

So what?


Yeah, that's basically how I feel about the Superbowl, which is why I don't comment in those threads.
posted by hermitosis at 9:24 PM on August 18, 2009 [31 favorites]


Okay, so maybe Thomas Rogers isn't down with the whole "gay boyfriend" thing, but these people are.
posted by Clay201 at 9:27 PM on August 18, 2009


pompomtom: Actually, the "fag hag" is not a television trope. It's a part of life for gay men which was poorly translated to television, and was then diluted not only by the shit television show which caused it to become more popular, but also by the sudden "trendiness" of gays in our greater culture.

Honestly, the best female friends I've had as a gay man were NOT "fag hags", but rather were females with whom I had something in common and ended up spending time. The women I met who were sort of actively pursuing the fag hag role often found me not nearly "gay enough" for their taste. No interest in shopping for clothes, not into a skin care regimen, all that stereotypical "girly boy" stuff which I have never found appealing except when I put it on like a costume.

I've long felt that part of the special part of being gay, at least in the era wherein I emerged, was that there are deep and difficult lessons which are learned in the process of self-realization in a culture which loathes you. Coming to a point where one is able to break away from society's expectations and stepping outside to pursue one's own identity is terrifying and marks a person for life in many ways, good and bad. And I have had many conversations with gay men my age and older who realize that, as society becomes more accepting of homosexuals, it will lose a lot of the "specialness" of the queers. If you don't have to fight to become who you are, you never grok the deeper meanings of existence within a culture. And without those lessons being learned, the fabric of life, I believe, will lose some of its more vibrant colors.

(I am NOT saying that I think gays and lesbians need to go back to being social outcasts. Life is better now, all around.)

The demise of the fag hag as a social construct may or may not be a good thing. Often, I think that a lot of the women who hang around with the gay men are sublimating their own interests toward couple-ness into their friendship with the queer men, probably to the long-term detriment of their love life. I also have known too many women who have gotten hurt because they completely "fell for" the gay guy with no regard for the reality of homosexuality. There is nothing worse for a gay man than having the female you are comfortable hanging out with suddenly cornering you, determined to "be the one who turns him". It's a horrid moment, having to tell one of your best friends that her romantic feelings are misplaced. I've lost more than one friend that way.

So, yeah, I see where the article is coming from, and agree with it in a lot of ways. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 9:32 PM on August 18, 2009 [35 favorites]


For most of gay history, the fag hag held a coveted spot. "They're the unsung heroes of the gay world," [...] Men got the appearance of heterosexual legitimacy...

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...


I thought the word for that was "beard"? I have a different experience of the term "fag hag." Maybe there are regional or chronological variations?

My first roommate was a gay male. I'm a straight female. Among the circle of people I hung out with during my single years (mid-80s, Kansas), "fag hag" was almost always a term of derision and disrespect, used by gay men to describe women whom they deemed to be too unattractive/undesirable to get a straight man. Women who were lonely, who clingily inserted themselves into their gay male friends' lives out of desperation. It was the straight women who were thought to be deriving the most benefit out of the relationship, using the gay men as an emotional crutch, not the other way around.
posted by amyms at 9:32 PM on August 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Don't worry full-figured ladies. We'll still dance with you.
posted by WolfDaddy at 9:34 PM on August 18, 2009 [15 favorites]


The article cites "Six Feet Under," "The Wire," "Kings" and "Brothers and Sisters," for "their nuanced and red-blooded gay characters". Omar was great. So was the cop on "Six Feet" who liked to play Racquetball and shoot pool. Not familiar with the other two shows. What is up with the GLAAD report praising Entourage for its depiction of gay characters? The episodes I have seen feature an agent berating his assistant using bigoted and homophobic insults.
posted by mlis at 9:35 PM on August 18, 2009


Don't worry full-figured ladies. We'll still dance with you.

I was worried for a minute :(
posted by sugarfish at 9:35 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


The episodes I have seen feature an agent berating his assistant using bigoted and homophobic insults.

Not only that, pretty much everything about Lloyd screams queeny stereotyping.
posted by dhammond at 9:39 PM on August 18, 2009


I dunno, just from observation it always seemed like the "fag hags" needed their "gay boyfriends" far more than vice versa. Most of them had serious self-esteem issues that would manifest as need for "safe" yet very handsome men who would never sleep with them.
posted by Sloop John B at 9:41 PM on August 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


[Link fixed.]
posted by cortex at 9:43 PM on August 18, 2009


Actually, on-post, it looks like I was walking around with a similar definition of "fag hag" as amyms. I'm guessing it's a regional thing.
posted by Sloop John B at 9:47 PM on August 18, 2009


Not even a nod to the fact that they are often seeking refuge in us and not the other way around? That's... sloppy writing.

hippybear and amyms have started the dialogue that I think is even more interesting here. And that isn't about whether gay men are more welcome in society or not, and therefore more capable of making friends. (I, for one, welcome our Abercrombie overlords!) The main inquiry is where that leaves straight women who seem to exclusively bond to gay men.

I think rather than being a regional thing, it might be a generational thing. When I came out, my dad made some weird comment about gays being woman haters and I just really didn't get it. But the derision and disrespect that you mention smack to me of bitter-old-queen-ism.

New, more polite terms have cropped up to deal with this phenomenon - fruit fly, for example. Flies are maybe not exactly the cutest creatures, but it's still a step up from a hag. Of course, that's all just a negotiation between the scylla of pity and the charybdis of self-loathing eunuchdom.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:51 PM on August 18, 2009


here I thought fag-hags were the girls that were secretly in love with their gay friend, which was different from the ones that treated their gays like a fashion accessory.
posted by selenized at 9:52 PM on August 18, 2009


I dunno, just from observation it always seemed like the "fag hags" needed their "gay boyfriends" far more than vice versa. Most of them had serious self-esteem issues that would manifest as need for "safe" yet very handsome men who would never sleep with them.

That's often true, but on the other hand, I remember a lot of questioning or recently-out young gay guys who threw themselves into romantic friendships with their fag-hag (not a beard) to avoid facing the possibility of a real relationship with another guy. Often these were guys who had intimacy or self-esteem issues to the same extent as their girl friends. In a sense this kind of relationship is as mutually beneficial as it is damaging to everyone involved.
posted by thisjax at 9:56 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Flies are maybe not exactly the cutest creatures, but it's still a step up from a hag.

At least hags have magical powers...
posted by hermitosis at 9:59 PM on August 18, 2009


Of the many gifts that "Will & Grace" bestowed upon my generation of gay men -- increased visibility, cultural cachet, a naive understanding of New York apartment sizes

It really took me a while to realize something about that show, that the characters were rich as fuck. And not just the Karen character either, but the lot of 'em.
posted by delmoi at 10:03 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah yeah yeah, hermitosis. Well. At least flies get to turn into Jeff Goldblum.

Or was it the other way around?
posted by greekphilosophy at 10:07 PM on August 18, 2009


I discovered that there were lots of scruffy and poorly dressed drone-rock-loving gay men in the world -- especially of my age group -- who had nothing in common with the Sanfords and Wills I'd seen on TV. Just because I was into dudes didn't mean I had to suddenly love dance music or fine furnishings. And yet, despite my continued shortcomings as a stereotypical gay man, I remained a strangely alluring target for a large number of straight women.

He seems to think that there is a "stereotypical gay man" of another generation that he is reacting against who loves "dance music and fine furnishings," which he must have learned about by reading a few too many Style sections from the New York Times and watching too many episodes of "Sex and the City." But he also asserts that there are "lots" of gay men in his age group, including himself, who apparently succeed at fitting the stereotype of a gay man in his age group.

It's intriguing that he therefore seems also to believe that he is not himself playing to stereotype, despite how fond he seems to be of applying that label to people. A surprising number of people, gay or straight, don't conform much to any stereotype once you get away from looking at the surface, and it's part of the richness of life to see how people depart from stereotypes you expect them to fill.
posted by blucevalo at 10:16 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


pompomtom: Actually, the "fag hag" is not a television trope.

Hippybear: thank you for the actual answer.
posted by pompomtom at 10:17 PM on August 18, 2009


which is why I don't comment in those threads.

Yes, I can see how not adding anything helpful disturbs you.
posted by pompomtom at 10:32 PM on August 18, 2009


It really took me a while to realize something about that show, that the characters were rich as fuck. And not just the Karen character either, but the lot of 'em

Sitcom characters in general are presumed loaded until proven destitute. Even purported middle class or working class families. Rosanne gets credit for actually having consistent money problems from episode to episode. Actual, pervasive money trouble is hard to plot in a "house" big enough to shoot scene-to-scene.

posted by cortex at 10:47 PM on August 18, 2009


One of my favorite moments on Roseanne was when they came back from doing something together as a family and tried the light switch and nothing happened because the power had been shut off for non-payment. Roseanne's quip: "Well, middle class was fun!"
posted by hippybear at 10:50 PM on August 18, 2009 [14 favorites]


As EvaDestruction mentions upthread, all of my friendships with gay men have been based on a collection of our mutual interests. I tend to like hanging out with men more than women, and having the sexual tension removed from that can be a feature instead of a bug. Hanging out, having some drinks, sharing work stories, and, yes, watching John Waters movies until we fall asleep leaning on each other on the couch or semi-cuddled in bed is very nice and comforting. Especially when you don't have to worry about roofies and worrying about how there might other motives. I hope the guys found it pleasant, too. I figure that's the case, since I had repeat visits.

You KNOW you don't want each other sexually, but man-woman touching is more accepted by society in general. Often I had physically close, but not intimate, relationships with my gay male friends that just didn't seem possible with my other male or female friends. I don't think any of us minded having a human equivalent of a teddy bear who could also carry on a great conversation and make a wonderful breakfast.

The only awkwardness I ever had was one friend who found vaginas repugnant, but had a strange fascination with breasts, even my meager ones. We'd be hanging out, and the next thing I knew, he was feeling up one of my tiny boobs. I told him to knock that shit off, and his response was, "But, they're so cute." I'm still not sure how to parse that, so I just add it to the spectrum of being human and quirky.

When I was a science major back in college, I had friends who would tell me they were gay when they weren't comfortable sharing the information with others. They generally weren't out with their families and just wanted to confide to someone who didn't care. They also knew I'd already been repeatedly to the one gay bar within driving distance, and, uhh, would I maybe tag along? Sure, no problem, that place was fun.

I've used the words "fag hag" and hopefully didn't offend anyone, but I'm more of the Bette Midler variety, from what I've been told. I'm much more likely to just use the word "friend."

And WolfDaddy, I'm not all that full-figured, but I am very happy to be danced with on occasion. My husband tries and steps on my feet, so thanks for saving him some trouble.
posted by lilywing13 at 10:50 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I thought this was spot-on. Too many of my fellow straight females (including, embarrassingly, some of my friends) expect their gay male friends to take them shopping, decorate their homes, and tell them how fabulous they are all the time. Hint: if you're using someone as an ego-boosting sidekick to your self-centered little life, you're not treating him like a friend, and frankly, not like a human being.

I hope that doesn't sound too combative; it's just something I've been noticing a lot (and therefore thinking about a lot) lately.
posted by naoko at 11:03 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


I grew up a nerd (or geek if nerd rubs you the wrong way), and on top of that, a queer nerd. One was outwardly obvious (the nerd part), the other was not and is still not obvious (the liking both boys and girls part). The rise of *ahem* geek chic has made being into things like computers acceptable, something I would have loved to had when I was 13 (there's still no excuse for Space Camp, no matter how awesome it was). And I suppose I can see where this author is coming from, because as geek became cool, it became exploited. It became normal. And that was annoying.

But you know what? I'd take normal over having to lie to my uncles about why I don't have a girlfriend at 26, because the truth would drive a wedge between them and my mom, and I don't want to do that. I'd love to not have to worry about whether or not the company I work for is going to cover my partner with their insurance (thankfully, the awesome, well-known computer retailer I work for does). I'll take normalcy over that.

As for platonic friendships between men and women, I've never understood why that's a big deal. No weird titles (they would probably deck me if I called them a hag), just them having to endure listening to me talk about how great Nethack is.

That's all I got.

(This is the end)

(parentheses)
posted by gc at 11:04 PM on August 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


see in my late nineties high school experience, "fag hag" was an unappealing girl who could never get a boyfriend so palled around with an attractive gay boy as a consolation prize, and "fruit fly" was a desirable girl but an ice queen who was tired of getting hit on so adopted a gay boy or several as a safe alternative.

for what it's worth, the urbandictionary entry for "fruit fly" backs me up on this distinction, sort of.

who cares? good question.
posted by i'm offended you're offended at 11:07 PM on August 18, 2009


On the subject of fag hags, if I may be trifle indulgent, a brief excerpt from Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin, copyright 1978, that explicates the phenomenon about as well as anything (italics in original):

Confessions In the Nude
....
The parking lot at Devil's Slide was jammed with vehicles: flowered hippie vans, city clunkers, organic pickups with shingles gypsy houes, and a dusty pack of Harley-Davidsons. Mona had to park her '64 Volvo almost a quarter of a mile from the beach. "Shit," she groaned, "It must be wall to wall flesh down there."
"I hope so," leered Michael.
"That's sexism, even if you are talking about men."
"So I'm sexist."
They trekked along the dirt road with dozens of other wayfarers headed for the beach. "This reminds me of the Donner party," said Mona.
Michael grinned. "Yeah. Drop by the wayside and you get eaten."

When they reached the highway, Mona gave the ticket-taker a dollar for both of them.
"This is on me," she said. "You're in mourning."
Michael skipped down to the stairway on the cliff. "Just watch me recover, Babycakes!"
Two minutes later they were standing on a broad stratch of white sand. Michael flung a pebble into the air. "Where shall we go? The gay end or the straight end?"
"Let me guess."
Micahel grinned. "It's less windy down the gay end."
"I'm not real crazy about climbing over those rocks."
"I shall carry you, my lovely."
"You're one helluva gentleman!"
They headed, arm in arm, for the sandy cove nestles amid the rocks at the north end of the beach. On the way they passed five or six bathers, al naked and brown as organic date bars.
"Look at them!" sighed Mona. "I feel like a goddamn fish belly."
Michael shook his head. "That's no good. They haven't got a tan line."
"A what?"
"A tan line. The contrast between brown and white when you take off your trunks."
"Who needs it? I haven't taken off my trunks before and audience in ages. I'd rather be brown all over."
"Suit yourself, I want a tan line."
"You're a prude, that's what."
"Five minutes ago, I was a sexist."
She snatched a piece of seaweed off the sand and draped it over his ear. "You're a sexist, faggot prude, Michael Mouse."

There were thirty or forty naked men on the tiny patc of beach. Mona and Michael spread out a towel. It displayed the words Chez moi ou chez toi? and a life-sized picture of a naked man.
Mona looked around her, then down at the towel. "How redundant. Aren't you afraid people will make comparisons?"
Michael laughed, stripping off his sweatshirt, tank top and Levi's. He stretched out in his green and yellow satin boxing trunks.
Mona removed her own Levi's and tank top. "How do you like my impression of the Great White Whale?"
"Bullshit. You look fabulous. You look like....September Morn."
"A fat lot of good it'll do me here."
"Don't be so sure. There's a nasty epidemic of heterosexuality afoot. I know lots of gay guys who're sneaking off to the Sutro Baths to get it on with women."
"How bizarre."
"Well...everything gets old after a while. I personally get a little sick of wrecking my liver at the The Lion for the privilege of tricking with some guy whose lover is in L.A. for the weekend."
"So you're going straight?"
"I didn't say that."
Mona rolled on her stomach and handed Michael a bottle of Bain du Soleil. "Do my back, would you?"
Michael obliged, applyig the lotion in strong circular strokes. "You do have a nice bod, you know."
"Thanks, Babycakes."
"Don't mention it."
"Mouse?"
"Yeah?"
"Do you think I'm a fag hag?"
"What?"
"I do. I'm sure of it."
"You've been eating funny mushrooms again."
"I don't mind being a fag hag, actually. There are worse things to be."
"You are not a fag hag, Mona."
"Look at the symptoms. I hang around with you, don't I? We go boogying together at Buzzby's and The Endup. I'm practically a fixture at The Palms." She laughed. "Shit! I've drunk so many Blue Moons I feel like I'm turning into Dorothy Lamour."
"Mona..."
"Hell, Mouse! I hardly know any straight men anymore."
"You live in San Francisco."
"It isn't that. I don't even like most straight men. Brian Hawkins repulses me. Straight men are boorish and boring and..."
"Maybe you've just been exposed to the wrong ones."
"Then where the hell are the right ones?"
"Hell, I don't know. There must be..."
"Don't you dare suggest one of those mellowed-out Marin types. Underneath all that hair and patchouli beats the heart of a true pig. I've been that route."
"What can I say?"
"Nothing. Not a damned thing."
"I love you a lot, Mona."
"I know, I know."
"For what it's worth...sometimes I wish that were enough."
Two hours later, they left hand in hand, parting a Red Sea of naked male bodies.
posted by Diablevert at 11:09 PM on August 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


I find it pretty crazy that I have never heard the term "fag hag". Maybe a generational thing? Anybody else have the same experience as me? I'm familiar with the idea/stereotype, but had never heard the term.

I've also never watched Will and Grace, but it sounds like a shitty show.
posted by Corduroy at 11:11 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


That article was fantastic. It really needed to be said. I agree with the author, and many posters here, that the society norms are indeed changing. I look at some of my girl friends who surround themselves with an entourage of gay men and I sense the weird co-dependent trappings that I think the author was getting at when he talked about 'accessorizing'. I've often wondered if this was possibly reflected in a bigger social attitude or not. It'll be really interesting to see the trends of the next decades and how more accepting attitudes towards LGBT persons affects social dynamics. It's totally fascinating. Also, I'd never heard the term 'fruit fly' before today...how clever and culturally loaded is that!?!


blucevalo: "He seems to think that there is a "stereotypical gay man" of another generation that he is reacting against who loves "dance music and fine furnishings," which he must have learned about by reading a few too many Style sections from the New York Times and watching too many episodes of "Sex and the City." "

I think the author was specifically referring to the media-constructed stereotype of the stereotypical gay man who loves dance music and fine furnishings (like Sanford and Will), which is why it would seem like he was playing part in the very thing he was condemning. In other words, I think he was using the phrase 'stereotypical gay man' ironically.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:37 PM on August 18, 2009


I'm in my early twenties and never heard the term either, but am familiar with the concept.
posted by meta87 at 11:49 PM on August 18, 2009


They aren't half as tiresome as they get when they finally have their own gay son though, and turn onto a 'Queen Mother'. I'm just dreading the day when one friend of mine proudly uploads the pictures of her son's first ever fisting to Facebook
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:08 AM on August 19, 2009


I grew up a nerd (or geek if nerd rubs you the wrong way), and on top of that, a queer nerd. One was outwardly obvious (the nerd part), the other was not and is still not obvious (the liking both boys and girls part). The rise of *ahem* geek chic has made being into things like computers acceptable, something I would have loved to had when I was 13[...] It became normal. And that was annoying.

Don't worry, gc, according to most unisexuals, we don't exist. Or maybe we do exist, but we're just going to cheat on our lovers. Not to mention, if you wind up with a girl in a committed relationship, you'll never be visible as bisexual again. Yay for implicit enclosetization.

I totally feel you on the geek chic, though. Drives me crazy every time I'm like, "So, then I dereferenced the null pointer, and I totally got a segfault," and all the bodybuilders and accountants around me are like, "I know, right!? And what's with the widespread adoption of XML in situations where JSON is clearly superior?"

You just gotta turn up the geekiness. It rapidly approaches a point where it's not cool anymore and it goes back to baffling and threatening the shit out of everyone. And 13 year old geeks still get beaten up, so it's not actually any better for them, unfortunately.

Come to think of it... the other day I was happily hacking away on my laptop at the bar... and some slackjawed redneck shitberry walked up to me, shut the machine on my hands, and loudly declared, "A bar's for drinkin'," before returning to his pool game. The only way it could have been more like junior high is if he'd sucker punched me and stolen my beer. [And this is the second time, the second bar, the second coast, that somebody got offended enough at my alcoholic programming to confront me about it.]

The only place geek chic actually exists is the internet. Because the internet is the only place where people recognize that much of what they love was built on the backs of geeks.
posted by Netzapper at 12:10 AM on August 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


I look at some of my girl friends who surround themselves with an entourage of gay men and I sense the weird co-dependent trappings that I think the author was getting at when he talked about 'accessorizing'.

For what it's worth, I know plenty of straight women who carry around an entourage of straight men, with no intention to sleep with any of them ever. At least a gay/straight dynamic lacks the unpleasant dynamic of teasing and leading on.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:19 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Infomania's Brian Safi ("That's So Gay" segment) weighs in
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:19 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


ps I'm a straight man and even I know the character on "Sex and the City" was named Stanford.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:20 AM on August 19, 2009


pps I also know when I'm saying the word "dynamic" too much.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:21 AM on August 19, 2009


Count me in with the others who have heard "fag hag" primarily as a term of derision. Mostly used by gay men to refer to the straight women who hang around gay men mainly because they're either clingy, desperate for attention/affection/emotional enabling or think it's somehow exotic.

My own sense of the term is that if someone ever suggested she'd be my "fag hag", I guess I'd be a little squicked out by it. Either because I don't need a co-dependent emotional vampire suckling at my ego or because it suggests I needed her two-dimensional support and validation in order to make it through the rough world as the stereotype she took me for.

That's not to say that I don't need friends, including straight female friends, for emotional support, etc. It's just that the term "fag hag" has always held that negative, mostly one-way connotation, for me.
posted by darkstar at 12:25 AM on August 19, 2009


(And yeah, after watching the first few episodes of "Will & Grace" and the novelty and excitement of having gay men portrayed on TV wore off, it became quickly evident just how dysfunctionally neurotic and insulting the show was.)
posted by darkstar at 12:28 AM on August 19, 2009


Rosanne gets credit for actually having consistent money problems from episode to episode.

Roseanne also had one of the best gay character, prior to it going off the rails in the later seasons. The scene where her boss has been persuaded to go play poker with the boys and comes out was... pretty fantastic, actually.
posted by rodgerd at 2:31 AM on August 19, 2009


As far as I'm concerned, fag hag was a derisive term that was somewhat liberated and owned by women who liked being in that kind of relationship. In the 80s, Madonna was known as a fag hag - and it's not like she didn't own that. Then later I heard the term fruit fly, which was presumably to get away from the term hag, rather than getting a distance from the original meaning of fag hag.

I think hippybear's comment reframes the discussion in a much more interesting way than the original article which, to my mind, doesn't really have much to say beyond "there was this label and now there's no need for this label anymore".

Whereas I think the idea of losing the "specialness" of queers is an interesting one, since the LGBT community has evolved in its way because of the prejudice. Once homosexuality is more accepted, gay teens will grow up with less stigma, gay adults will have less reason to closet themselves in any aspects of their lives and perhaps the LGBT community will lose what bonded it together for so long. Although is eschewing queer pain really a negative, in the long run? Isn't losing prejudice the best part of losing our "specialness"?

Meanwhile, on the topic of prejudice: That's So "Jock Who Can Complete A Pass But Not A Sentence" - Think Before You Speak campaign which is battling the passive homophobia of the phrase "That's So Gay"
posted by crossoverman at 2:44 AM on August 19, 2009


Way, way back in a time which few of us can remember, having a lady pal to hang on your arm could be very important if you wanted a certain kind of social life. Maybe for both of you. That time has become a memory for many adults, in cities, in more progressive countries.

But from what I hear, I 'spect its still a necessity for the young, "out there" ... in about 3/4 of the world.
posted by Twang at 2:46 AM on August 19, 2009


I think the author was specifically referring to the media-constructed stereotype of the stereotypical gay man who loves dance music and fine furnishings (like Sanford and Will), which is why it would seem like he was playing part in the very thing he was condemning. In other words, I think he was using the phrase 'stereotypical gay man' ironically.

It didn't seem that ironic to me, or to put it another way, it was very hard for me to tell what he was saying that was meant to be sarcasm and what was not. As a result, I could be totally wrong in my assessment.
posted by blucevalo at 4:47 AM on August 19, 2009


By the time I'm a teen in Iceland (90's) being a straight male and having gay male friends isn't abnormal. I remember one of my gay friends having a female friend were the friendship had some of the stereotypical features of a fag/hag relationship. I know from older Icelandic gays that straight woman/gay man relationships were fairly common in older generations but it seems that with the mainstreaming of gay men and of straight male/straight female non-sexual friendships the social pressures that brought gay men and straight women together seem to have faded.

I suspect that the regional variation that people bring up here is between regions of the US where the mainstreaming of gays is differently far along. One thing I've noticed in the US is that it's much less socially acceptable here than in Iceland for straight males and straight females to be friends (as in, here it gets 'tut tuts' and the occasional bit of innuendo while in Iceland it goes unremarked on). That's also an important precondition for fag/hag relationships. If the only males it's okay for a straight woman to be friends with are gay, then gay men is who she is going to be friends with.
posted by Kattullus at 5:25 AM on August 19, 2009


As a kinda-sorta goth I always called myself a "fruit bat".

I was that drama club girl. With the crush on the fashionable gay boys. Even dated one...or two. But it was always a friendship first, and several of those friendships have lasted into adulthood...including the man who was the "Gentleman of Honor" at my wedding.

I never thought of my friends as "accessories" and I hope they didn't think of me as one either. I once looked in on an LJ group for fag hags and people were talking about looking for a "gay" like they were picking out puppies. Ew.
posted by JoanArkham at 5:34 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought this was spot-on. Too many of my fellow straight females (including, embarrassingly, some of my friends) expect their gay male friends to take them shopping, decorate their homes, and tell them how fabulous they are all the time.

Who the hell are you hanging out with?
posted by The Whelk at 5:53 AM on August 19, 2009


Excellent article, thanks for posting it.

A number of people seem to have either not read the article or read it through such a haze of their own preconceptions and ignorance that they couldn't take it in. Or, of course, they're just the kind of asshats who have to jump into every thread to show off how indifferent and/or superior they are. "What, that? I've never heard of it, and besides I got over it in junior high, and furthermore it's something only people in Iowa/America worry about!!"
posted by languagehat at 5:55 AM on August 19, 2009


> Who the hell are you hanging out with?

Apparently people other than those you hang out with. Amazing, right?
posted by languagehat at 5:55 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apparently people other than those you hang out with. Amazing, right?

Easy, I'm fairly sure he's teasing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:57 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ooh, can we have the hawt new thing be relationships between stereotypical butch lesbians and middle-aged straight men? I could really use some help with home repairs and renovations.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:01 AM on August 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


ps I'm a straight man and even I know the character on "Sex and the City" was named Stanford.

So that's who they were talking about! I kept thinking to myself "wow, I had no idea there was a gay character on Sanford and Son". And the idea that there might have been sort of blew my mind.

And I always associate the term "fruit fly" with the women who hang around in gay bars with the decaying "fruit" as it were, fermenting themselves. Less one-on-one interaction/relationship, more enjoying the culture and general drunkness.

And hippybear's comment is spot on. I want to favorite it more.
posted by This Guy at 6:13 AM on August 19, 2009


> Easy, I'm fairly sure he's teasing.

Oops! Sorry, The Whelk! It's hot, and the cats are fuddling my brain!
posted by languagehat at 6:21 AM on August 19, 2009


I had no idea there was a gay character on Sanford and Son".

Why do you think Aunt Ester's husband Woodrow drank so much?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:27 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I don't think they were that strong to begin with. I know that multiple people like to think of queer men and straight women as "natural allies." But that ignores the problems that even "gay friendly" straights can be heterosexist, and gay men can be misogynist while chumming around at the clubs.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:51 AM on August 19, 2009


So, ugly women only have friends...sorry, gay friends...to shore up their fragile egos? Good to know. I will inform my friends I am only using them, so they can feel okay about ditching me and go back to just hanging out with each other, as only pretty people are allowed to do.

But honestly, if your so-called 'friend' is only using you as a fashion accessory (whether they're 'ugly' or not), why are you friends with them? Go hang out with people who like you for you. Otherwise, you're just 'using' your 'friend' as well, and you deserve each other.
posted by sandraregina at 7:16 AM on August 19, 2009


When I grew up in the 60's it was taboo for a man to admit to being or be called gay. There wasn't even the term gay. There were only fag, faggot, flamer, poofter (in England) and homosexual. Gay men usually needed the cover of companionship of women to go to parties with mostly straight people, to climb the business or social ladder.

Bottom line, ha, is that now, at least in most big urban environments, gay men don't need "fag hags" or a beard any more in the business world, to go to parties, make social connections or share gossip.

The classic fag hags were theatrical, brassy, unconventional; they were the Liza Minnellis, Bette Midlers and Liz Taylors of the world. They drifted toward gay culture because they perceived themselves as outsiders, and bonded with gay men over shared feelings of social rejection, and love of camp, and appreciation of John Waters movies. And hey, they both liked men. A lot. "The company of the gay man gives the straight woman the potential to express her sexuality without feeling the need to tone it down," says Justine Pimlott, director of the documentary "Fag Hags: Women Who Love Gay Men." "There's a mutual identification."

(my bolding.) Disagreed with that part of the article because I don't think Liza Minnelli, Bette or Elizabeth were or felt like outsiders or "bonded with gay men over shared feelings of social rejection".

Mainstreaming what was previously not socially comfortable always has an interesting, convoluted story.

The only "fag hag", a term I've never liked, I ever knew, spoke and acted a lot like Talulah Bankhead, endlessly told bawdy stories and called most everyone, "dahling". While voraciously promiscuous, she had a deep, misanthropic, hatred for the four straight men -and one gay-bi man- she married. She preferred the raucous laughter, hyper-sexual banter, razor edged ridicule, gossip and eye-popping anecdotes she shared with her gay circle of men, who surrounded her as diva. She used a small handful of gay men as her "escort" to parties, fund raisers and events, as her "walker". She got their witty, elegantly well dressed companionship and camaraderie, they got to go to parties, make social connections and likely meet other men with whom they might have more intimate liasons.

Some years ago I met a very rich woman from Texas, who had two male gay companions. I've noticed there are ads for this kind of companionship: "elegant middle-aged male seeks post as companion to another male, or older woman".

Gay men don't need female beards any more. What will the fag hags do now?
posted by nickyskye at 7:29 AM on August 19, 2009


Thanks to Twang and Kattallus for the international perspective. I'm actually really curious about what life is like for gays and lesbians in more-progressive countries. It would seem that if we want to know what the future is like for the gay/lesbian community in the US, we should look to them.

One other (irrelevant) thing, though --

"the other day I was happily hacking away on my laptop at the bar..."

Seriously, what were you doing writing code in a bar? I'm not defending the "slackjawed redneck" or anything, but unless you're in an airport bar and waiting for a flight, there doesn't seem to be any reason for this.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:41 AM on August 19, 2009


...he must have learned about by reading a few too many Style sections from the New York Times...

Exactly.
posted by ericb at 8:11 AM on August 19, 2009


Relationships of this kind can be "a symbiotic relationship of the highest, most dysfunctional order".
posted by orange swan at 8:13 AM on August 19, 2009


Seriously, what were you doing writing code in a bar?

Since when does how you amuse yourself in a bar become anyone else's business if you haven't thrown a punch at them in the process? What the fuck.
posted by cortex at 8:14 AM on August 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


hippybear: "And I have had many conversations with gay men my age and older who realize that, as society becomes more accepting of homosexuals, it will lose a lot of the "specialness" of the queers. If you don't have to fight to become who you are, you never grok the deeper meanings of existence within a culture."

Can you explain this some more? IANG but I got my cultural anthropologist hat on: How much of gay culture is (or was) embedded on the idea of a collective rite of passage in finding out who they are (or are not) and then to find themselves a community and culture of people like them?

That this external culture that rejects me is replaced by an entirely new and hidden culture of individuals who went through something as painful as possible and understands and accepts me (as soon as I accept myself), sounds like a pretty great thing?
posted by stratastar at 8:28 AM on August 19, 2009


On a related note, I dated another gaymer recently and he and I remarked about how difficult it still was to integrate into straight male gamer culture. While I'm on Ventrilo, blowing something up in World of Warcraft, I still want to talk to someone about what happened on Kathy Griffin's show that week, or whether the new Whitney Houston album will be a tragedy or not.

I love the boys I've played WoW with, but they are still a little... straight. For my tastes, at least.

Straight girls are still just more likely to enjoy the things that I enjoy. The film festival is playing Doris Day classics? Great new show on broadway? Lady Gaga danceparty? It's all just less than likely that I'm going to find a straight guy who will humor me when I burst out into song in public. My best friend will, but I've known him since we were six, and so he's been putting up with me doing this for twenty years.
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:28 AM on August 19, 2009


Ummm, I wasn't defending the person who shut Netzapper's laptop. I'm just curious why somebody would want to be "hacking away" at a bar. Just doesn't seem like the ideal environment for that.

Not worthy of a full-on "what the fuck," in my book.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:29 AM on August 19, 2009


MetaFilter: a negotiation between the Scylla of pity and the Charybdis of self-loathing eunuchdom.

Way late and way over-memed, I know. But sorry, it had to be done.
posted by XMLicious at 8:36 AM on August 19, 2009


Since when does how you amuse yourself in a bar become anyone else's business if you haven't thrown a punch at them in the process? What the fuck.

When you amuse yourself by dandling his boyfriend on your knee, for instance.
posted by breezeway at 8:46 AM on August 19, 2009


When I was in the ninth grade the term "fag hag" was used primarily by the bullies and loud-mouthed asshats who used it to address any girl who happened to be hanging out with the guys most likely to have their sexual orientation addressed by the jock/redneck/bully/preppy contingent (which was basically every guy not ingratiated into the jock/redneck/bully/preppy contingent). I always had the sense that fag-hag was what they landed on after exhausting their standard list of insults about your looks, your weight, your family origin, your sexual proclivities and any opportunity for them to (literally) bark at you. Suffice it to say, my earliest understanding of the term did not come from the most sophisticated source.

A few years later, after transferring to a private school, where the football team was the lowest rung on the social totem pole and sexual preference was treated with greater sensitivity by faculty and students alike, the term "queen magnet" was used (somewhat sympathetically) to address the girls who continually won the platonic affection of gay men, who understood those men were gay, and yet, were still crushed when that affection did not develop romantically.
posted by thivaia at 8:50 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


That this external culture that rejects me is replaced by an entirely new and hidden culture of individuals who went through something as painful as possible and understands and accepts me (as soon as I accept myself), sounds like a pretty great thing?

Well, yeah, but that's assuming that the subculture (if we're talking about becoming part of a gay culture, which may or may not have much meaning anymore) "accepts" you (and acceptance will have different meanings for different people, to be sure), which is sometimes or even often not the case.
posted by blucevalo at 9:35 AM on August 19, 2009


stratastar: Ack. You don't ask the simple questions, do you? *grin*

I seem to have used this phrase a lot here on MeFi, but in many ways, it's one of those "fish don't know they swim in water" sort of awakenings. The realization that one is NOT part of the larger fable about life our society tells itself can be a bumpy ride for any number of reasons. Family, friends, coworkers, classmates, teachers, pastors, even casual passers-by on the street can and will (or did, this is changing) aim vitriol at you at any time, sometimes without warning or provocation other than how one might be dressed or what building one just walked out of. The sense of alienation from everything can be overwhelming.

In order to even begin to pass through this, one has to develop a keen sense not only of Who One Is, but also Who Others Are. Stepping outside the culture means you find a set of keys which allows you to pick and choose from that culture, accepting the parts you find ring true and rejecting the parts which are hollow and false. It's an incredible time in any emerging queer's life, full of moments of realization and discovery (and rejection and sadness), and the end result can be a vibrant individual who is not merely living by rote, but who has made conscious choices about which parts of the immersive culture to participate in.

But like all these things, the shadow side of this process can be very dark. Stepping out of the mainstream straight into "the gay subculture" can sometimes be simply exchanging one set of false values for another. The danger of falling into the kind of mean-spirited mindset of so many gays, full of catty judgement and never truly participating in anything because it is easier to stand outside and criticize than to enjoy something which might not fulfill every expectation, is real and has probably claimed any number of potentially shining souls into the darkness. I have said repeatedly to friends, when they ask me about Will & Grace and why I loathe that show, "Jack and Karen may be funny, but they are NOT friends with anyone, and are not friendly TO anyone. I wouldn't want them in my life, and I can't stand watching them." The sad truth is that gay men can be more cruel to each other than the outside world ever was to them. And when one has left a dominant culture and stepped into a subculture hoping to find kindred spirits there, the cuts and scars can run much deeper when inflicted by those who should be one's allies.

It's a pretty overwhelming topic. For decades, there has been all these interesting little "things" which gay men knew about and the straight world did not, which would sort of bind the queers together even despite the wide variety within the gay subculture. Things like the hanky code, public cruising, understanding drag and understanding "the signs", even if a gay man isn't directly participating in these things, he at least knew about them. THAT would be the greater gay subculture, the one which transcends all the cliques and creates one large umbrella.

You say all this sounds like a pretty great thing, and it really can be. It can also be a toxic pit into one can fall and be lost forever. And I'm really doing a terrible job at explaining all of this, because I'm trying to wrap 20+ years of personal experience and conversations with others into a not-over-long MeFi comment. A lot of my own views about gay life within the dominant culture and the ways in which it can be lived were formed by an amazing book from 1977 by Larry Mitchell, "The Faggots And Their Friends Between Revolutions". It depicts, truly, something which is now fading into history, which is the struggles of gays and lesbians as an invisible oppressed group seeking to survive in a world which loathes them. I recommend it highly, but it's difficult to find. It's full of wisdom and prophesy and just picking it up to look at it hoping to find a quote from it to include here has rekindled a sense of awe and purpose within me. But I recognize, with some amount of sadness, that if I were to hand this book to a 20-year-old who has been out since high school, they would find it to be a foreign document speaking gibberish about the Faggots and the Queers and the Faeries and the Women and all their struggles within the land of the Men.

I love the fact that we no longer have to hide. But I mourn the loss of the rites of passage which bound so many gay men and lesbians of my generation to each other.

I'm sorry... What was your question again?
posted by hippybear at 9:45 AM on August 19, 2009 [14 favorites]


"I love the boys I've played WoW with, but they are still a little... straight. For my tastes, at least. "

Part of that is the residual sense that computers and gaming are less than masculine (like, pursuits that aren't sports and bangin' chicks), so there's a weird need for guys feeling insecure to get totally macho about their shit, which especially ties in with being aggressive in the competition of games.

I'm a straight dude who finds that obnoxious, though it does make for a funnier context when one of my gay pals gets hyper sexual while pwning at Halo (shouting "This fag barebacked your tight ass! Feel my cream!").
posted by klangklangston at 9:57 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I came to say pretty much exactly what hippybear said, but mine would have been less eloquent. Then I saw:

"This fag barebacked your tight ass! Feel my cream!"

and I feel dirty and repulsed, even as a gay gamer (who obviously don't hang out in the same places as klanklangston). Seriously? People say that? Can I have a metafilter-moderated game? That would make me embarrassed to be gay, if I heard that.
posted by This Guy at 10:09 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't worry full-figured ladies. We'll still dance with you.

What?
posted by kathrineg at 11:14 AM on August 19, 2009


> full of catty judgement and never truly participating in anything because it is easier to stand outside and criticize than to enjoy something which might not fulfill every expectation

hippybear, your entire comment is terrific, and that phrase in particular caught my attention because it is a perfect description of something that bothers me a lot about a lot of MeFites. It is indeed easier to stand outside and criticize, and I wish people would get past it. It's good to be critical when it's called for, but not good when that's your reflex response to everything that comes your way.

(Sorry, off topic, but I wanted to get it off my chest.)
posted by languagehat at 11:42 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"But I mourn the loss of the rites of passage which bound so many gay men and lesbians of my generation to each other. "

There's this bathhouse right down the street from me, and while there seem to still be regular, no sex bathhouses in San Francisco that dudes can go to and just be naked and steamed, this one (at least from the yelp reviews) does not seem to be one of them. On the one hand, I kinda hope that gay dudes having places to go to have sex that aren't bathhouses will decrease the function of bathhouses as gay hook-up joints, on the other hand I can both understand feeling wistful about losing that subculture and wary of the thought that bathhouses will just close rather than stay open.

(When I was in Korea, it was funny to see the English paper all mourning bath house decline because, they claim, now is the first time that Koreans mostly have indoor plumbing.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2009


Ummm, I wasn't defending the person who shut Netzapper's laptop. I'm just curious why somebody would want to be "hacking away" at a bar. Just doesn't seem like the ideal environment for that.

I like programming. I like beer. I work from home, and my wife works nights, and I still haven't made any friends here.

Coding at the bar allows me to get out of the house, drink a beer, and have some at-least-marginal interaction with other people. I wasn't working, I was playing.
posted by Netzapper at 1:19 PM on August 19, 2009


I used to read Kafka in dance clubs. Eh. Sometimes you want to be social. Sometimes you just want to be out.
posted by greekphilosophy at 1:35 PM on August 19, 2009


The rise of *ahem* geek chic has made being into things like computers acceptable, something I would have loved to had when I was 13 (there's still no excuse for Space Camp, no matter how awesome it was).

I thought I had to be embarrassed about loving space camp still, but when I sheepishly told my much-less-nerdy-than-me girlfriend about it she was all "if I had gone to space camp I would tell EVERYONE about it! That's awesome!"

Of course, she likes me, so she's clearly not turned off by nerdiness in the first place.

More germane to the thread, I've been wondering if there's a stereotypical term for me - I'm a straight guy whose friends are mostly female, a shocking percentage of whom are gay. Not like I need a label, I was just curious if it existed as a stereotype.
posted by flaterik at 2:11 PM on August 19, 2009


Ooh, can we have the hawt new thing be relationships between stereotypical butch lesbians and middle-aged straight men? I could really use some help with home repairs and renovations.

well, if it does become the New Thing, my butchest female friend has the trend locked up. she's a regular in a group of straight golf buddies, exchanges home repair help with them, and at her ex-wife's family reunions was invited to the Guy Weekends at the hunting shack. i don't think that's as rare as you think in at least rural America.
posted by RedEmma at 2:20 PM on August 19, 2009


flaterik: I have heard that called being a dyke daddy. Though it appears the term has other popular meanings as well.
posted by idiopath at 2:45 PM on August 19, 2009


New, more polite terms have cropped up to deal with this phenomenon - fruit fly, for example. Flies are maybe not exactly the cutest creatures, but it's still a step up from a hag.

What about me? I am a heterosexual man who played shortstop for a softball team that was 80% drag queens, 10% gay bartenders, and 10% me and my fellow b-ball coach; I've had multiple gay roommates; and I now play in a weekly poker game that's also 90% gay men... many of my friends are women or gay men ...

Fruitbat?

I love the fact that we no longer have to hide. But I mourn the loss of the rites of passage which bound so many gay men and lesbians of my generation to each other.

Now you know how us vanilla straight white men feel. If we're not rich, what's our culture? Professional sports, the stock market, and date rape? Ew.

(Not ANTI-SPORTS-IST but maybe ANTI-FINANCE-IST, and definitely ANTI-RAPE-IST.)

I liked the article, btw. Thanks. The author reminds me of my friends.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:19 PM on August 19, 2009


Now you know how us vanilla straight white men feel. If we're not rich, what's our culture?

Um..... Yeah. Really?

I mean, I hear what you're saying, but that's not exactly what I think you meant to say. As you put it, it sounds like sort of a whiny White Man's Burden combined with total lack of awareness of the last 500 years of western european culture.

But since you seem to be so cool I won't really take you to task on it, and will instead invite you over for cocktails anytime you're in the area! We can watch baseball together! (It's shocking how difficult it is, as a gay man, to find someone to watch baseball with!)
posted by hippybear at 3:33 PM on August 19, 2009


What about me? I am a heterosexual man who played shortstop for a softball team that was 80% drag queens, 10% gay bartenders, and 10% me and my fellow b-ball coach; I've had multiple gay roommates; and I now play in a weekly poker game that's also 90% gay men... many of my friends are women or gay men ...

Indeed. What's getting lost in all this analyzing of why "fag hags" hang out with gays, is perhaps the simplest motivation of all: gay people are better company! Now, I'm not denying that there are fag hags that hang out with gay guys for other reasons, and I'm not saying that straight guys can't be interesting, or gay guys can't be boring, but that was and still is reality to me.

I explicitly sought out the company of gay men, even though I had not the least intention of playing for the other team. My reason was extremely simple: most of the time, I found the straight guys painfully boring company. I am not interested in sports - in fact, I'm repulsed by them. What am I going to say when guys start talking about some sporting event? I get up and leave. I am utterly uninterested in lockeroom talk about how to bang this chick or that chick and if she likes it from behind. I am not interested in cars and how to fix them, mod them or fuck in them. And so on. Plus, I just don't like the atmosphere when a bunch of straight guys are sitting around and shooting the breeze. The range of expression and what the various social rituals - all so very, very boring.

So, as early as high school, I'd seek out the people who stood out from the crowd. For relief from the oppressive convention. Most often, it would be gay people. And I much preferred going to gay parties. I never led anyone on, and made my position very clear, so there were no misunderstandings, and I've never had a problem. When I first arrived in California, I settled in SF for a few months - and that was no accident, and then moved to LA (work related). I hung out with gay people and went to parties and I loved the feeling of almost doing something that's subversive (that was the 80's, ha!).

Now, things have been changing. I did notice the correlation - the more homosexuality is accepted as just another characteristic, like eye color, the less interesting the culture. I'm certainly happy about the acceptance part (heck, I fought for it), but I miss the sense of being at the edge, of people being compelled to be interesting. Once upon a time, it took a lot of introspection to come out, and strength to overcome the prejudice which made for more interesting people who had to question society's received wisdom. These days, I encounter so many young gay people who are simply ignorant of the history - a generational divide. They can afford to be complacent. I am happy that they have that opportunity, the opportunity to just be ordinary, and also sad that so much history is being lost.
posted by VikingSword at 3:48 PM on August 19, 2009


Oh Viking, you are probably one of the guys I hit on at a party. Without fail I'll end up drinking and laughing and trying to feel up the one straight guy at a pretty queer event. I have anti-gaydar.

For me, um, the whole Gay-Indenity thang came second to finding out who my father was AND finding out the internet. I always felt weird and isolated within my (large) family. I wasn't like anyone else. I didn't even look like anyone else. My mom was always very short with the family details, I was born during a time in her life she wasn't *terribly* proud of, so she glossed over a lot of it. My dad was a sperm-donor or something. I never quested it. But I did look really different from the rest of my family, and while I figured out I was gay when I was 13 (and more or less came out when I was 14,) that wasn't really the Thing. I have a very progressive and subcult-y family, when I came Out, my mom sent me to live with my two Gay Uncles for a summer. She wasn't really freaked out about teh gay, she was freaked out about sex and dating and disease and was overly into talking about condoms and going to PFLAG meetings and seriously embarrassing me at every turn. She really, really wanted to be supportive, but didn't realize how fucking embarrassing it was to have your MOM talk about YOUR SEX LIFE in front of STRANGERS. I really wanted it not to be an issue, cause being gay, at least the sex part, wasn't a huge THING for me. I was into computers and games and science and art and my Mom wasn't and my brother wasn't and my two lovely Gay Uncles had no idea what I was talking about and to their credit, they where almost puritanical (I see now, from a distance, out of sheer fear) about sex and dating and bars. In my teenage head, I would have nothing to do with bars or camp or dancing or anything. I was Serious. I was chaste. Teh Gay was just something I had, which didn't really mean much cause I really couldn't connect to anything "gay" that central NJ could throw up.

Then I disocvered the internet, oh boy. Then I realized I wasn't alone. Then I got reading lists and cool music and Rocky Horror tickets and Ziggy Stardust and I felt more inside of something, oh! yeah! I like this stuff that no one (here, in central NJ) likes! I could talk about games for HOURS with OTHER DUDES, sometimes even GIRLS. WHOA. Okay, so that figures out that problem. Then my mom decided, in her infinate wisdom, to collect back child support from this no-good "sperm donor" and I find out who my Dad is. And that kinda fucked me up. Cause I had, in my late-teenage rush to grab really obscure music, some of his records.

And that was the "Mutant Power Moment". Oh! I'm fucked and weird cause my Dad is professionally fucked up and weird and that explains why I like the things I do and why I look like why I look like. It's total bullshit, of course, the actual genealogy is disputed and the whole blood-as-destiny thing? Icky! But still, it gave me something, which is what I think an awful lot of so-called gay culture is. It's your own personal Origin Story. You are that way cause. Cause other amazing people have been this way and liked the same things you like and you're *different* from everyone else because of that and then you find your own School For The Gifted and find out even more crazy ass stuff you can love. You're not a fucking werido, you're just different, and that's okay.

There is a pretty good connection between being gay and being total nerd, of finding your people, and god-help you if you're both. So as mainstreaming continues (lets hope!) there won't be the same "Oh god THIS is why I like THIS!" and it gets mixed into a more blurry subcultural slurry, with less shame and hiding and elaborate codes and cliques, maybe some of that first blush will be lost, and things like "fag hags" will be a part of the past.

But still, realizing you're SO DIFFERENT from your parents and peers and want to find people who dig the same thing you dig. That will never go away, and the fact that I am writing this, to you'all, means it's getting even easier and stronger.

*sknnit!*
posted by The Whelk at 6:55 PM on August 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Obnoxious Self-Link.
posted by The Whelk at 7:00 PM on August 19, 2009


Seriously, what were you doing writing code in a bar?
4 words
Frenzied. Drunken. 3 a.m. Programming.
You can't read it, you don't know what the hell it does, but it works. Some of my best work (as it were) is produced in this state.
posted by LD Feral at 6:51 AM on September 3, 2009


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