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Naught language and pervy content!
I'm sure we're all familiar with the term 'fag hag' - the seemingly hapless hetero women who cling to their fashionable fags like en vogue handbags. Grace from 'Will and Grace' is a fine example, or any of the women documented in the film 'Fag Hags: Women who Love Gay Men.' According to the greater lexicon of cultural archetypes, these women find kinship in gay men who are sexually appealing in non-threatening ways. Historically a derogatory term, the label 'fag hag' has recently been reclaimed by women who are carving their own niche in a social landscape that's becoming queerer and queerer. To be a fag hag is to occupy a subject position that has by and large been normalized. Real live interpersonal relationships, however, often transcend stereotypes. For example, many of the women I know who boast fag hag credentials really DO end up sleeping with their gay companions. Strange but true.
But now that 'fag hag' has become by and large socially sanctioned, what of straight males who, for whatever reason, identify with or are sexually attracted to lesbian women? For followers of the hit series 'The L Word,' the character of Lisa, a self-proclaimed male lesbian, might come to mind. Lisa displays many of the traits associated with 'gender dysphoria,' a shaky would-be pathological distinction that usually pops up when transgenderism enters the conversation. Lisa claims that he is a lesbian trapped in a man's body, a conviction he clings to tightly, even in the face of ridicule from both the heterosexual community and the lesbian community itself. When he hooks up with one of the show's bisexual characters, Alice, he feels uncomfortable using his penis. Instead he brandishes a small dildo - much to Alice's chagrin. As she so bluntly puts it, he is a man - if she wanted to fuck a woman, she would have gone home with one.
Though I don't fuck women with strap-ons (okay, I have, but just that one time, and only for fun), a part of me identifies with Lisa. If I had to choose a label for myself that corresponds to contemporary definitions of sexual orientation, I would say I'm a straight male. That being said, I reside in a social sphere that is predominately queer. My partner, for instance, is a bisexual who mostly sleeps with women. Ironically, her current girlfriend was someone I hooked up with first. In many ways our relationship mirrors the relationships of our non-hetero friends who eschew monogamy for something more akin to polyamory. Though there are a few exceptions, most of our friends identify themselves as gay or lesbian. Unlike the world outside of our circle of friends, where white, middle class straight males by and large occupy a position of privilege, here I am the vast minority. Unlike Lisa, I'm fortunate in that I'm not ridiculed my circle of friends. In fact, I've taken part in a variety of situations from which straight males have mostly been barred.
Many of my closest relationships are with lesbians. Some have sexual elements, some don't, but all are characterized by an emotional attachment that goes beyond the boundaries of friendship. Such relationships, I've come to realize, lack linguistic expression; that is to say, while the term 'fag hag' can define a similar relationship between hetero women and gay males, no such moniker exists for hetero males who form intense emotional (and often sexual) bonds with lesbian women.
So what differentiates the lesbian / hetero male relationship that's I'm talking about from, say, the relationship between a hetero male and a hetero female? I can only speak from personal experience, but I've found striking differences between the relationships I share with close lesbian friends and those I share with hetero female friends. Though I do have a few femme friends, the majority of the lesbian women with whom I share intimacy would be considered butch or soft butch. That's not to say that they are all have profuse body hair or wear plaid: hardly. In fact, one of my closest lesbian friends is an amateur bodybuilder seeking her pro card. Try selling her on body hair! Her partner, another close friend, trains her and has a similar aesthetic. But what they do share with me, or vise versa, are similar tastes in clothes, interests, and, of course, women. Whereas meaningful conversations between me and my hetero male friends are few and far between, my lesbian friends provide a channel for emotional intimacy that the 'buddy talk' between me and my male friends can't offer. Gender dictates that emotional closeness between two males is, by default, homosocial, since sensitivity, empathy, and the like reside in the sphere of feminity, while stoicism and emotional repression typifies masculine behavior. What my close lesbian friends offer is a version of masculinity, an aesthetic representation, that isn't bound by its stringent behavioral laws.
Naturally, the establishment of trust has been difficult. After all, how often do we see two women sexually performing for the benefit of the male gaze? Luckily, dating a dyke has opened doors that would likely have remained sealed shut otherwise. I've learned that gender and sexual orientation are liminal, fluid, as are relationships between people. If the fag hag can be a legitimate social phenomenon, than so can its lesbian / hetero male counterpart. The question is, what to call it? Dyke Mike was the best we could come up with, so the jury is out, but one thing is for sure: hetero and homo are no longer the be all, end all distinctions of sexual expression.
"Imperious, choleric, irascible, extreme in everything, with a dissolute imagination the like of which has never been seen... there you have me in a nutshell, and kill me again or take me as I am, for I shall not change."
From his Last Will & Testament, Marquis de Sade