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Hags before Shags

Room for Squares

In the aftermath of outdoor celebrations like the Folsom Street Fair and the annual Lovefest, and in the face of the upcoming Castro Street Fair, which seek to highlight our communities of inclusion, I’d like to take some time to pay tribute to that often overlooked and underappreciated female that’s a part of every gay man’s youth. No, not your mother. Your fag hag.

We all have one. Some of us have many. She’s been called many things -- homo honey, fruit fly -- but most commonly she’s known as the "fag hag". Regardless of the moniker, it cannot be denied that she is a staple of every gay youth’s adolescence, as essential to growing up as breakfast, vitamins and daily exercise. Let’s be honest, without her, most of us probably wouldn’t be here. For that matter, we probably wouldn’t even be gay…well, at least not as gay as we are today.

Cast your mind back to high school. Raging hormones and burgeoning adulthood make it a confusing enough time if you’re straight, but imagine having to question your sexuality on top of all that. At a time when most youths were out testing the waters, many of us were left trying to make sense of why we liked to linger in the locker rooms so long after P.E. As if making guy friends wasn’t hard enough without them suspecting that you were after something more.

Enter the fag hag. She may come in various shapes and sizes, but it can generally be said that she was probably the first person you came out to and probably the first person who wanted to hang around you because of the fact that you were gay. There couldn’t be a more symbiotic relationship in nature. Without our each other, we’d have no extra person to share clothes with, no Gay-Straight Alliances and, most importantly, no prom dates.

Many of us who experience some form of ostracism as teenagers took to our best friends because we had no one else. And if that best friend happened to be female, I suspect the same can be said for them as well. While we inevitably meet spouses and lovers as we grow older, it’s important to remember that sayings like “chicks before dicks” and “bros before hoes” exist for a reason: lovers may close their doors on us again and again, but our best friend's will always be open. I guess you could call it “hags before shags”, because you see, sometimes it really isn’t all about sex.

When I was younger, I can remember planning my future alongside my hag’s. We used to say to each other that when we grew up, we’d want to live like Will and Grace, only without the psycho sidekicks. Because at that age, the obstacles of careers, relationships and distance hadn’t yet entered our minds. It was a time of great transition, when you were moving from adolescence into adulthood and from questioning your sexuality to embracing it, and it was important that someone was there, if not to guide you, than at least to hold your hand, albeit platonically.

Casual observers may ask how a relationship between two questioning youths of the opposite sex can go sexually unexplored. Now, I can’t say this for all, but that was never the intent with any of my fag hags. The idea did, and still does, make my skin crawl. Sure, we didn’t have blueprints for our friendships so there was nothing to say what we couldn’t have slept with each other, but relationships of that kind were always more heterosocial than they could ever have been heterosexual.

Nowadays, with reports that television portrayals of gays are on the decline, we can expect that as fewer and fewer gays show up in popular culture, so will we see a dwindling amount of fag hags. In the future, where will our straight-better-halves see their Graces to our Wills? The fag hag phenomenon might well never have been a product of some television show, but even with the most organic of human relationships, it still helps to be able to see some type of positive reinforcement.

So remember, when you’re out hobnobbing with leather daddies, bears, club kids and other folks of our lovely community, take a second and raise a toast to that often underrated woman without whom none of this would be possible. Here’s to you fag hags, dearest of heterosocials…you make us happy to be gay.