#68 kissed me at a trance club because he was on E and he was kissing everybody. I wasn’t about to argue. Up until meeting him, I’d felt kind of smug that I never had crushes on gay boys or straight girls, so that at least I wasn’t completely wasting my time from the outset. #68 was tall and had strawberry blond hair and a stud through his lip. He had this effortless-cool thing going on. I remember Gerry (who later found national fame in Big Brother 8) complaining once that while most gay boys had five or six fag hags, #68 had a hundred.
Since I don’t have a whole lot of anecdotes to share about #68 (except that he got off with #28 once and I attempted to not be jealous), I was going to turn this into a post about the whole fag hag thing. But different people have different definitions of it, and some are more empowering than others.
I never really considered myself a fag hag, I mostly thought of myself as one of the boys. In a sense that’s about my own issues with gender, about wanting to distance myself from girls and from straight people, which is something I’m still working on unpicking. It’s not cool, is what I’m saying.
I think my own stereotype of a fag hag is a straight girl who knows a lot about the alien worlds of haircare products, make-up and shoes, and perhaps not so much about radical queer politics. I don’t think of a fag hag as being necessarily in love with her gay boy friends, but I do think there’s scope for her to see them as kind of a delightful novelty. I’m not super-bothered about the potentially offensive terminology, but it does place the fag in question at the centre of the universe and posit the woman as merely a trusty sidekick.
I asked some of my imaginary internet friends what they thought about the label, and variations on the above were common. But other people had better tales to tell. My wonderful friend Sam talked about the gay men she hung out with in the eighties and early nineties. Within her circle of friends, ‘fag hag’ was a term of affection, reclaimed from its negative connotations. And I loved hearing her stories about drag queens who went straight from the clubs at 5am to defend women from harassment by anti-choice nutjobs as they entered abortion clinics.
There’s no widespread term for boys who like hanging out with queer girls – I’ve heard ‘dyke tyke’ and ‘diesel weasel’, but they’re both obscure and a bit rubbish. A friend of a friend coined ‘fag bangle’, for a gay man who likes hanging out with straight women.
Maybe my discomfort with the fag hag label comes from the kinds of threads in the fluff-piece that emerged when I was interviewed about my friendship with #28. Various pairs of friends were interviewed – I got to be the token bisexual woman – and there was a sidebar with “Ten reasons why gay guys make great mates!” It’s not that I expected an academic level of analysis in Now magazine, but most of the bullet points – “Gay men have great taste and adore shopping!” – evoked exactly the stereotypes that always alienated the hell out of me. It wasn’t so much about whether gay men really were all interior decorators, but the assumption that as a woman I would be equally invested in the same pursuits. And that a bunch of people out there actually seem to believe this. That’s some more shit to be filed under Really Fucking Tired. But luckily, life is a lot more interesting than that.