Is the term “fag hag” ever OK? Probably not, because two bad words don’t make for one good phrase. And yet it falls so trippingly from the tongue, and it’s certainly sexier than the synonym “fruit fly,” which always calls to mind the expression “nuttier than a fruitcake.” I’d rather be a fag than a fruitcake, though most women would probably prefer to be an insect than a hag. But whatever you call ladies who cling to gay men as if they were handbags—let’s go with the familiar “girls who like boys who like boys,” or GBBs—they’re still out in full force, the phenomenon riding all sorts of societal evolutions to become a permanent fixture in LGBT life.
I’ve generally found that there are two primary kinds of GBBs: the beautiful ones who need to hang with gay guys so no one will hit on them for a change, and conversely, the offbeat ones who don’t get the attention they deserve from straight guys, so they envelop themselves in a world where sex isn’t an option and they can’t feel rejected. But what happens when it becomes an option because they start lusting for the gay guys? More rejection! I’ll get to that later.
Let’s start with Lauren Gould, a beauteous mid-20s design director at a New York ad agency. “If I had to label myself,” she told me, “I’d go with ‘fruit fly,’ though I don’t mind ‘fag hag,’ either. For me, the appeal is that I can surround myself with fun, fabulous, and intelligent men without worrying about them having alternative motives. It’s hard to strike up a platonic conversation at a bar with a straight male because they always think it means more. But going to gay bars as a girl with a posse of gay men, you can dance your ass off without anyone trying to rub up on you in a sleazy way.” Because they’re all rubbing up on each other in a sleazy way.
“I started hanging out with gay men,” continued Lauren, “because my best friend was homosexual, so it was only natural for us to split our time between straight and gay places so we could both have a chance to meet potential dates.
“And back when I was single, hanging out with gay men was actually a great way to meet straight men. A few bartenders or patrons at every gay bar would wind up being straight and chat me up.” So in trying to run away from too many straight guys with an agenda, a GBB can actually find some in a gay bar and like it! Curiouser and curiouser.
Lauren happened to meet her current boyfriend because her gay best friend was hitting on him at a concert, and when he found out the guy was straight, he brought him over to Lauren like a cat holding out a mouse. Far from the stereotype of the lovelorn GBB, hanging with the gays has actually helped this woman’s love life.
And the gays are way more sensitive to be around, right? “Definitely NOT!” she shrieked. “My gay friends are always the first to tell me the harsh truth, whether it’s about a pair of shoes or something more hurtful. But I like the blunt honesty of it all. That’s why I turn to them for ego boosts, too. Nothing feels better than receiving a compliment from a gay male.” I’m still waiting for one.
Searching for a GBB with more vulnerability, I found Lizzie Johnson (a pseudonym), a 30-year-old art world employee who told me she prefers to be called a “fruit fly.” “I don’t like the ‘hag’ part,” she added. “Maybe you can call me a ‘fag fly.’ ” A giddy laugh.
And why is she a fag fly, pray tell? “I’ve never been able to have good conversations with straight men,” explained Lizzie, echoing other GBB respondents. “I don’t like the monosyllabic answers or the disinterest in talking about life or in anything other than sports facts and other mundane conversations. Not to stereotype.
“Of course you fall in love with the gay guys sometimes. The first boy I had a crush on was the first one I did anything with. But when it’s unreciprocated, that’s where the danger is.” Broken-hearts mountain. (This sharply contrasts with Lauren, who told me she’s never wanted to consummate with a gay friend: “No matter how hot I think they may be, it’s a line I’d never cross.”)
GBBs, I was learning, tend to be either scarily secure or a tiny bit masochistic. Lizzie is such a fag fly she’s even starting to wonder about her boyfriend! “The jury’s still out,” she admitted to me. “I have my doubts. He’s in art, too—another tricky sign. I tell him I want him to be exactly who he is and if he decides he likes boys, just tell me and we’ll work it out.” Why not? They already go to gay bars together, anyway. “He likes the conversations and fun that we have there more than with his straight friends,” said Lizzie.
But do the gays even want her there? Many of them love their personal GBBs, but even with advances in the rights arena, a lot of them still crave recreational ghettos and moan “Ugh. A woman!” when one walks in. “That’s perfectly within their rights,” said Lizzie, ever understanding. “But I like the ambience. It has excitement, and it doesn’t come off as smarmy and predatory as straight bars.” No, not predatory at all. In fact, a woman will generally leave there chaste, not chased. But she’ll float home on shoes that were praised by gays!