Thought Catalog

The Problem With Fag Hags and Gay Men

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Let me preface this with saying that the relationship between a gay man and a straight woman is a truly magical and special dynamic. The relationships I have with my girlfriends are incredibly rich, nuanced, and incomparable to anything else. That’s why on the rare occasion a girlfriend of mine will refer to herself as my fag hag, I want to shake her and say, “You are not a hag! You are a powerful goddess who gets laid way more than I do. Don’t ever use that term again!” Let’s face it: Fag hags are a different kind of beast. They’re the girls who avoid romantic entanglements with straight men, and dedicate all of their energy into the relationships they have with their gay friends. The affection they receive fills a void and almost feels like “the real thing.” Sometimes they even harbor feelings for their gay BFF—a fact that is known and sometimes alluded to by both parties, but never truly discussed.

Here’s a situation I’ve seen all too often: A narcissistic attractive gay man being a total dick to his frumpy # 1 fag hag who has pudding for a backbone. It’s a sad relationship. The gay guy uses her to feel beautiful and get his ego fed while the fag hag has little self-worth and feels special just by being in the presence of a hot gay man. When I see a relationship like this, I just want to slap the gay dude for being such a little turd and tell the fag hag to build up her self-esteem and find a gay man who will treat her right.

I’ve never had a relationship like this. I avoid them like the plague mostly because it’s a bullshit premise for a friendship. I would feel fetishized by them, like I’m being used for my sexual orientation, and I would also feel like I’m enabling whatever insecurities they have with straight men. Granted, I feel like every gay man/straight woman friendship has their Will & Grace moments of co-dependency. There can be times when it can get to a level of intensity that’s uncomfortable for both parties. But that can also be a natural by-product of any close friendship. It’s not exclusive to gay men and straight women.

A lot of my aversion to fag hags is also based on sheer annoyance and frustration. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had girls who don’t know me that well want to spark up a friendship mainly because I’m gay. They’ve been like, “Oh my god. I need a gay friend, and you’re so funny. Can we, like, go shopping together?’ I wish I was over exaggerating, but I’m not. Gay men have become the new Birkin to girls who have watched too many episodes of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. They think they’re being progressive by befriending a gay man, but they’re actually being completely offensive. Can you imagine someone going up to a black person and being like, “You’re black?! Ugh, I really need a black friend. Can we play basketball and eat soul food together?”

What’s grosser though is that some gay men feed into it. They’re more than willing to play the part of “The Gay Best Friend”, which I’ve never understood. What’s in it for them? Are they just taking their cues from the mainstream media on how to be gay? As I’ve said before, a lot of the depictions of homosexuality in pop culture have complicated the sexual identity of gay men. People have certain expectations for us on how to act and dress. And as much as gay men fight it, we sometimes fall into the roles we’re expected to play. I’m guilty of saying a bitchy comment out of some misguided sense of obligation.

I’m proud to say that none of my girlfriends are fag hags. They all have stable relationships with straight men and none of them want to sleep with me or make gross comments like, “I wish you were straight!” Even though my sexuality largely informs my identity, it’s not the reason why I have certain friendships. Listen up girlfriends: I’m here, I’m queer, and let’s not make a big fuss about it. TC mark

image – Will & Grace

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    • IndianGiver

      oh, ryan, i love you in a non-sexual way. please don't stop writing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/wingedthing Leigh Alexander

      for me i feel like i wished for a gay best friend not because i consume too much media, but because i don't really get along that well with other women usually, being loud/nerdy, like intellectually i form the best friendships with men

      but then like if the man is straight you always have to worry, like so many of my male friendships get ruined by having to worry about this artificial intimacy barrier because sex is always like lurking in the way, hanging in the background threatening to fuck up everything

      i'm pretty candid/easily intimate so lots of times men i just want to be friends with mistake that for sexual advances and we get to where suddenly they're all “…okay, i really have to tell you something” and i'm like “NO STOP PLEASE DON'T I CAN'T LOSE YOU”

      i think the allure is if the man is gay you can enjoy a real cross-gender friendship and you can totally be yourself in front of him without worrying if you're 'teasing' him or 'leading him on' or 'sending the wrong signals' because even if you did change in front of him he wouldn't care, it would just be such a relief to have male-female closeness without ever having to worry about someone 'getting feelings'

      but like the traditional 'fag hag' dynamic you describe here, i'm totally not into it, mostly because i wouldn't let anyone be a bitch to me and put me down and also yeah i'm not a hag, seems like an unhealthy dynamic to embrace

    • HS

      I appreciate my gay male friends immensely. They aren't substitutes for boyfriends; they tend to be blunt, hysterically funny, interested in the same things I am, and less competitive than girlfriends. It's wonderful to hang out with guys and not worry about being stared at or grabbed or any such complications. Crushes happen occasionally, but if you're grounded and self-respecting, you deal with it and move on.
      I appreciate that Ryan O'Connell makes the distinction here between healthy gay-straight friendships and the dysfunctional fag-&-hag dynamic. Not every straight woman with gay male friends is a Fag Hag. Come to think of it, why isn't there an equivalent term for a straight man who hangs out exclusively with lesbians? It happens, but I don't think they get called Dyke Hags…seems unfair to me.
      At any rate, this Ryan O'Connell dude seems really cool. I'd totally hang out with him.

      • serena

        At any rate, this Ryan O’Connell dude seems really cool. I’d totally hang out with him.  –agreed.

    • Chaoscossack

      I prefer the term “fruit fly”.

    • TRUMAN

      PREACH.

    • Bcoates

      My friends annoying roommate will not shut up about wanting a “gay best friend”.

      Lady, they're people, not handbags.

      • serena

        then again this is also kinda just like a woman wanting a boyfriend. we just want awesome people in our lives. 

    • Truphena

      Someone once asked me to be their black friend and make jambalaya with them.

      • token

        It's happened to me Truphena too, …….true story :/

    • Tim

      LIKE! I have gay friends, and they all have some characteristics that definitely hint at the fact that they're gay (sometimes strongly), but overtly gay guys or girls bother me. It feels like they're proving a point, and there's a facade that is just unnecessarily hard to overcome. I know this isn't a unique complaint, but I feel like it's a hard thing for a straight guy to say without getting accused of homophobia. Really though, it's just that a really dramatic, bitchy tone from someone who can't stop trying to be the centre of attention is painfully annoying whether they're straight or gay. If I ever have to question if I'm being intolerant, I just ask myself if I would find the same behavior annoying in a straight person. Yay for gays who are proud but not too loud!

      • NoahTourjee

        I know what you mean – obviously. But what is overtly gay here? Are you talking about 'sassy' behvaiour and feminine demeanor, or are you talking about rude, abbrasive, loud men who are gay? I don't suggest homophobia from this comment, I just find it interesting. Something that I wonder myself. There is a very powerful sentiment that gay people should let go of their “pride” in that – congratulations, you're gay – why do you deserve attention. I know you stated “yay for gay guys who are proud but not too loud” – great you have respect for a culture having pride, but what do you mean by loud? Believe me. I know the kind of socialized homosexual who is Loud and Flamboyant and Annoying. They are detrimental, but can they even be blamed? Societies majority condemns that life style, and when accepting it – it comes in a completely desexualized campy display; entertainment. Where is a gay man growing up going to look for guidance? Gay men lose their sense of self and become the version of what they're expected to be, lacking the confidence to know that they are people – and that they can be themselves without fitting into culture's grid. Where is the line drawn? When does someone stop being real and start being a product? And where does the blame lie? There is so much damage done to gay people based on societies expectations of them. It starts with the expectation to be Queer Eye and then it worsens with insecurity of masculinity and what it means to be a gay man, to be a man at all. SO much lost in translation – we wind up with a world like this. SO who's to blame? And does some Nelly Queen telling his insecure 'fag hag' something sassy at Sephora need to be slapped into reality, or nurtured into a true understanding of himself – without all of the bulshit that society has to say?

    • Dan

      My girlfriend of 3 years suddenly wanted 'space' and latched on to this gay guy who she is spending ample amounts of time with. I think this fruit fly term might suit my gf perfectly – and for me it's difficult to not let jealousy set in. The hardest part is she's known me for far longer, but because she's got a low self esteem she is probably going to make the worst mistake of her life and push me away for good and spend more time with this gay guy. It doesn't help that i'm the 'jealous' type after being cheated on by an ex!!!

      I'm certain that there is nothing involved sexually, but i'm still worried about the emotional connection they'll increase on. She has 2 more years at uni in his presence, so it's not going to be easy. Maybe for my sake, I ought to consider other girls to date if this gay guy intrudes too much. It's been extremely hard to know what to do…since we had so much in common and she always talked about marriage..the works. I feel like my feelings aren't being considered here and in my view thats dangerous to my future with her.

    • Kentuckyboi

      I’m a gay guy and I don’t have any girl friends aka “fag hags”. Does this make me weird?

    • Zasha

      now this sounds familiar on the dysfunctional aspect of that situation. Having recently decided to end a new friendship that was turning icky, ive realized it can be a lot more hurtful hanging out with someone who only uses you. If you find a friend (gay or straight) and they only want to hang out when they need a ride or a favor, totally blow off texts and make lame excuses,
      constantly make plans and dont follow through, goodbye! I am not a fat spineless pudding, actually I am the sort of girl other chicks hate because guys stare. I mostly have had straight guys as friends untill they get feelings or confess they want to hump me.
      Then it ends and I am wondering why. So this gay guy befriended me and everything was cool until I noticed he kept making fake plans and excuses.totally blowing off texts, playing hot and cold I looked up what being a fag hag is and I am definately not.

    • tyla Aguilar

      Eeeeee

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