Archives for August 2013

What is a Fag Hag?

In literature and pop culture, women who enjoy the company of gay men are portrayed as overzealous, clingy, and despising straight men. These women are often referred to as fag hags:

fag-hag: heterosexual woman extensively in the company of gay men. Fag-hags fall into no single category: some are plain Janes who prefer the honest affection of homoerotic boy friends; others are on a determined crusade to show gay boys that normal coitus is not to be overlooked. A few are simply in love with homosexual men; others determine to their chagrin that their male friends are charming but not interested sexually. No matter how you cut it, fag-hag has an ugly ring to it.

– The Queen’s Vernacular: A Gay Lexicon (Rodgers, 1972).

Miss_Fag_Hag_Coney_Island_Mermaid_ParadeAlthough this term is not necessarily seen as a positive one, it is still widely used in the LGBT community. Obviously, no gay male likes being called a ‘fag,’ and no straight female like to be referred to as a ‘hag.’ Yet, some females take pride in the term while gay men have no problem using it to refer to their female friends. Why?

The gay male’s perspective: In situations where fag hag is used in an enduring way among friends, the term may be used to symbolically affirm a woman’s membership and acceptance among her gay male friends. Gay men may see the term as a way to share and express (humorously) the stigma of being gay in our society to a supportive female who is of no threat1. However in some cases, women who are “gay friendly” may not be called fag hags as many gay men reject this label.

The female’s perspective: Many females do not like being referred to as a fag hag due to the “hagginess” of the term. However, some women wear it as a badge of honor. This may be due to a female’s wanting to be included in a group a men who will accept her for who she is and won’t compare her to the “ideal” female beauty (like straight men do). But, many women disagree with the stereotypical portrayal of fag hags as outdated, noting that the “new” fag hag is a woman who seeks out friendships with gay men for inherent pleasure, not necessarily out of desperation for male attention2.

Although the term fag hag may sound like an insulting term, it is still widely used in and out of the gay community. By understanding its roots, we can ultimately learn why it is still a pervasive term in our society.

References:

1. Moon, D. (1995). Insult and inclusion: The term fag hag and the gay male “community”. Social Forces, 74, 487-510.

2. Thompson, D. (2004). Calling all fag hags: From identity politics to identification politics. Social Semiotics, 14, 37-48.

How quick do gay men and straight women click?

One striking aspect about gay men and straight women is their ability to become friends almost instantaneously.   Whether it is at the movies, the mall, a restaurant or bar, gay men are able to “show no fear” when they introduce themselves to women. Likewise, women are mutually able to open up to gay men that they are meeting for the first time.  There seems to be a unique exchange of words and expressions that solidifies a unique connection. But how quick can these two click? It may depend.

How quick do they click

In a few days? Granted, all friendships take time to form. Like all individuals, gay men and straight women must allot some energy and resources to cultivate great friendships over time. Not all gay men and straight women are able to make friends with one another immediately. Many of these individuals need time to develop a long lasting sense of reliability and trust.

In a few hours? Although straight women and gay men need time to form a holistic friendship, their attraction towards one another as friends is noteworthy1. Because of this, they may be able to express more openness and interest toward one another than they are with other individuals of different genders or sexual orientations.

In a few seconds? It may seem farfetched, but some straight women and gay men “click” the moment they begin a conversation1. If a straight woman knows that a man is gay (even before meeting him), she may be more open about certain aspects about her personal or romantic life than if the sexual orientation of the male was ambiguous. But how can straight women be 100% certain of a male’s sexual orientation before even meeting him? She cannot. However, gay bars or LGBT events are ideal spots where straight women can safely assume (for the most part) that the men they meet will be gay. If there is no ambiguity about a man’s sexual orientation, a woman is likely able to feel more comfortable talking about certain topics. Because gay men appreciate a sense of openness and comfort from their female friends2, gay men may welcome conversation and make a friendly connection in no time at all.

References:

  1. Hopcke, R. H. & Rafaty, L. (1999). Straight women, gay men: Absolutely fabulous friendships. Berkeley, California: Wildcat Canyon Press.
  2. Grigoriou, T. (2004). Friendship between gay men and heterosexual women: An interpretive phenomenological analysis. London, England: London South Bank University, Families and Social Capital ESRC Research Group.

Will and Grace Effect: Fact or Fiction?

To some level, the media has been blamed for portraying gay men and straight women in a stereotypical fashion. In popular television shows such as Will and Grace, gay men and women are characterized as friends who shop with one another, watch romantic comedies together, and spend countless hours talking about men. Even though there may be a handful of friendships like this, not all gay male and straight female friends feel they possess these characteristics. The fact that some gay men and straight women don’t identify with these characterizations makes the iconic relationship of Will and Grace appear extremely stereotypical.

will and grace

Although the Will and Grace relationship may not characterize every gay male-straight female relationship, it does not discredit the possibility that these relationships are built upon a similar dynamic. In general, gay men and straight women are able to share a harmonious relationship based upon their similar interests. However, many argue against this notion and claim that close relationships between gay men and straight women do not exist outside of popular television programs like Will and Grace. In fact, there is even an idea out there that Will and Grace may have begun the gay male-straight female friendship trend:

“The years of Will and Grace have likely influenced gay men and straight women to be best friends.” (Will and Grace Effect)

While this idea provides an alternative explanation that the media influences our perception of this relationship, it lacks the specific evidence to support a cause-and-effect relationship. It is implausible to say, for example, that Will and Grace has influenced the friendships between gay men and straight women that we observe today. In fact, there is more evidence to back up the opposing claim: close gay male-straight female relationships have existed long before these media influences. For instance, the close-knit relationship between gay men and straight women has been documented in literature dating back to the late 1970s1-3. Therefore, it is possible that these relationships originally inspired or gave rise to television programs like Will and Grace. In addition, this relationship is noted across cultures4. This indicates a minimal influence that Will and Grace or any other related television program has had on gay male-straight female friendship formation.

The relationships between gay men and straight women may not fully mimic the patterns and social dynamics observed in popular media. However, it is important to note that this relationship is not a complete result of the media and may be an everyday pattern of social interaction.

References:

1 Malone, J. (1980). Straight women/gay men: A special relationship. New York: Dial Press.

2 Nahas, R. & Turley, M. (1979). The new couple: Women and gay men. Seaview Books: New York.

3. Warren, C. A. (1976). Women among men: Females in the male homosexual community. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 5, 157-169.

4. Torre, B. A., Manalastas, E. J., Sese, D. G. A., & Catanghal, A. (2005). Fag hags in Filipino gay culture: Friendships, identities, and personality. Paper presented at “Sexualities, Genders, and Rights in Asia: The 1st International Conference of Asian Queer Studies” in Bangkok, Thailand.

Welcome to Gay-Straight Relationships

It is my pleasure to introduce my new, upcoming blog and website: GayStraight.com. This blog was created to explore and better understand the relationships between gay and straight individuals. Its ultimate goal is to provide you with beneficial information about these relationships including how they function, how they are perceived, and how they contribute to our understanding to relationships as a whole.

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This blog will not be limited to just one type of relationship or gender; rather, I will work to incorporate information from many relationship types. In addition to discussing the relationship between gay men and straight women, I will also touch on relationships between straight men and gay men, lesbian women and straight men/women, bisexual women and gay men, gay men’s relationship with one another, etc.

Because I intend for this website to be an interactive learning experience, please feel free to offer personal insight or knowledge about the topics that are discussed in the comments sections below.  Guest bloggers are welcomed and are encouraged to contact me directly.

Thank you for your interest, and look forward to your following and feedback!