Friday afternoon I was listening to NPR's show "Tell Me More", hosted by Michel Martin. She was interviewing Thomas Rogers, who had written a column called "Ladies, I'm Not Your Boyfriend" in the online magazine Salon.com. In it, Rogers discusses the phenomenon of straight women befriending gay men. Unable to use the term "fag-hag" on the radio, Rogers explains how these relationships began.
"There's really nothing that's terrible about the idea of a friendship between a straight woman and a gay man," Thomas Rogers tells Martin. Rogers wrote the article "Ladies: I'm Not Your Gay Boyfriend" for the online magazine Salon.com. The problem arises when women start to think of gay men as "accessories," Rogers says.
The 90's saw a proliferation of straight-gay duos on TV, such as "Will & Grace", "Sex and the City", "Dawson's Creek" and "Ugly Betty". These shows suddenly made it fashionable to have a gay best friend.
"Justine Pimlott, director of the documentary "Fag Hags: Women Who Love Gay Men", said "the company of the gay man gives the straight woman the potential to express her sexuality without feeling the need to tone it down. There's a mutual identification."
After my son came out in 1998, I got involved in the GLBT community through PFLAG. I made a lot of friends and became an advocate. So naturally, after reading these columns, I began to wonder if I, myself, could be a fag-hag?
I don't have a gay best friend. I don't go shopping with my gay friends. I also began to realize that there is no single stereotype of gay men. Not all of my friends are into fashion and decorating. They are as diverse as any other population.
When "Queer As Folk" came on TV, I became hooked. Then my son began calling me Debbie. Debbie was the "mother" of all the gay and lesbian characters on the show - she wore a vest covered with buttons, the most obvious one that said "I am a PFLAG mom." I really did not want to identify with her - she was loud and overbearing. Was she a fag-hag?
One day a few months ago, one of my PFLAG friends asked me if I thought we were "part of the GLBT community." I did not have an answer for her. I like to think of myself as part of that community, but I really don't know 100% what it's like to be gay. As a Jewish person, I have been told by various people "some of my best friends are Jewish." I suppose I can say that myself regarding the GLBT community. However, I find it demeaning and very stereotypical. Rather, I like to think that I have a diverse group of friends, GLBT people comprising one part of that group.
I am always hopeful. I think the world will be a better place when people can have all sorts of friends and not lump any one group into one basket. I am grateful for the friendships I have made within the GLBT community. However, I still stick to shopping with my women friends.