In the spare few moments between the time I woke up and the time I had to be at the store this morning, I read over a comment being held in moderation left earlier in the AM on my page that defines a fruit fly. I had about 5 minutes to spare and 20 or more emails to get through. The comment was long and wordy - when I’ve just come out of a sleep state, about the only words I can comprehend fully are cigarette and caffeine - so I put it off till later and went about getting ready for work. I returned to read the comment later from the store, when the dream cobwebs were gone from my brain (and yikes have I been having some odd dreams lately, but that’s a topic for another day), and I couldn’t help but be amused. Amy is quite put off - nay, sickened - by the expression “fruit fly”, and has admonished me to be ashamed that I do not want to associate myself with “fag hags.” How dare I!
I resolved that I would eventually use this comment as a spring board to actually POSTING something on this here blog again, but the important business of renting gay porn and selling Madonna DVDs would have to come first, as we are busier than ever at Diverse Universe these days. (Which, overall is a good thing, but is just one of the myriad reasons I’ve been leaving this blog to languish.)
But my oh-so-serious detractor returned, apparently miffed to the hilt at my not having approved her lengthy comment yet, with accusations of deletion and not being able to handle her “truth.” Apparently, such an “important discussion” deserved my immediate attention. Amy, I’m so sorry that you had to wait almost a full day for me to approve your comment and respond, but there were copies of Spy Cocks and Straight College Men to be rented out, and believe me, you don’t want to delay these things. That could have the makings of a riot in the store.
If you are not Amy and you are reading this, you should start by reading my “I am a fruit fly” page if you haven’t recently, then skip down to the first comment left by my Ms. Fag Hag. Then, come back here.
Ready? Here we go.
My Dearest Amy,
To begin with, we will address what I see as the most glaring overall problem with your comment, which is that you take yourself and your status as a fag hag FAR too seriously. Just as I don’t believe that one’s sexual orientation - be it straight, gay, or any one of the number of variations - defines one as a person, whether one is a fag hag or a fruit fly has little to no importance in the grand scheme of life. These phrases, like any phrase used to pigeonhole a person, are simply labels. I am more than a fruit fly, and the use of that term in the title of my blog is meant as tongue-in-cheek for the most part. I am only myself, and one part of who I am is a person who enjoys the company of gay men. (And really, it would be fair to consider it but a small part of my life overall. I don’t preclude someone from the prospect of being a friend just because he or she is straight. It’s just that given where I work currently, I talk to so few straight people that it’s very rare I meet one that I click with. To warp a cliché completely, I have lots of straight friends.) There are many other facets of my being, but “the life cycle of an obsessive pop-culture geek who loves her boyfriend but gets annoyed with him just the same, has to ride the bus to work at the gay store, thinks kitty cats are the cutest things ever, is poor all the freaking time, and has several very good friends who happen to be gay men” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. (Though I might get more hits from Google searches with that title.) I took the time to define what a fruit fly is simply because it is not a well known term yet, and I don’t like the label of fag hag at all, and never really have.
The sheer fact that you take the label of fag hag so seriously - enough that you feel the need to defend it with such fervor and indeed be “sickened” by an alternate phrase - only helps to point out one of the reasons I chose to distance myself from those of your ilk. My sense of self worth does not depend on a label within any community.
Now, let’s break down your comment on a more detailed level.
“If outsiders give Fag Hags a negative connotation, it is their misperception. Why in the world would you change something based on a perception created by straight society”
I hate to be the bearer of bad news sweetie, but “straight society” (though I am loathe to define any difference between straight and gay in such a broad and general manner, I have to go with what you’ve given me here) couldn’t possibly care any less what label you or I use to describe ourselves within our own communities. I’ve never been faced with a straight person who expressed any sort of distaste toward fag hags or fruit flies. Though I’m sure such people exist, I would venture that they wouldn’t make any sort of distinction based on the semantics. No, those who have expressed a negative reaction toward the term fag hag, at least in my experience (I do not dare presume to speak for all people), have been gay men, lesbians, and other straight girls like me who found that fag hag wasn’t a desirable distinction. I did not begin using the term fruit fly until it was bestowed upon me by several gay men, who argued when I called myself a fag hag, pointing out that I was not nearly so unsavory a creature as such a term implied. These particular men are most definitely not the only persons in the gay community who hold this perception either. I offer you some proof:
- An article that appeared in Advocate a bit over a year ago titled “Who you callin’ a fag hag?” lays a lot of it out - and makes perfect sense to me. (And in case you don’t bother to click over and read it, I’ll point out that it’s written by a lesbian.) My favorite quote from this piece: “What I don’t really enjoy, though, is the label. And I’m sure there are sweeter names we can come up with to give to our straight gal allies.” I remember reading that when it was published and nodding emphatically. While we’re at it, here’s a quote from that article that is quite germane to our little discourse, “…we first must stop labeling, judging, and pointing our fingers at each other over the silliest nonsense…” Wise words, wise words.
- The book Fag Hag by Robert Rodi is a great example of what fag hags have come to be thought of over the years. While this is obviously a fictionalized caricature of the stereotype (and a bit overdone on the campy angle, but it is a fun book to read), I am sure there are plenty of gay men who would recognize someone they know well in this fag hag who sabotages all of her best friend’s relationships while harboring her own amorous feelings for him, despite the fact that he’s gay. I won’t spoil the plot for you, but things only get worse from that point. Natalie is not the kind of person I’m aiming to be.
- The movie Fag Hag (which is not based on the book) is described thusly at Yahoo! Movies: “Destiny is a naive suburban twentysomething, who believes that entering a beauty pageant is an important step in her life. Scott is a gay slacker and compulsive liar, who works for a Christian bookstore. The two meet and immediately get on - she is dumb enough to believe his stories, and is intrigued by his homosexuality. He has found an adoring fag hag.” I can’t imagine why I’d want to distance myself from characters like that…
- A recent post on a blog by Abagail Garner, whose father is a gay man and who runs the FamiliesLikeMine website, also points out some issues with the terminology of fag hag: “I voice my opposition to the term ‘fag hag’ regularly and loudly. When gay dads dismiss my opposition and insist I just need to lighten up, I ask them if this label is what their daughters should aspire to be when they are grown.”
There’s lots more where that came from, but I believe I’ve given you enough to start your own quest for enlightenment.
“While your at it, why don’t you just change the word Fag to Fruit. In my opinion, THAT is the offensive word when referring to our Fags. I would never say something like that, as it implies a sterotype. Fruit implies a flaming queen, and not all Fags are that.”
There are so many things wrong with that, I hardly know where to start. Hmm… let’s work backwards.
First, again, the seriousness, oh the seriousness! I have honestly never encountered anyone so offended by the word fruit in relation to a gay man. (That’s not to say that no one is - again, I don’t presume to speak for all.) I feel sure that fruit has been used in the pejorative sense more than a few times, but it is much more lighthearted than most other terms that are bandied about in describing a gay man. Indeed, one of the quickest ways to get a smile out of my customers is to point out that the Gay Gum that we sell in the store is fruit flavored. Granted, a groan usually comes with the smile, but there’s a smile there, nonetheless. I have referred to my closest friends as fruits many times (and just for the record, for whatever odd reason my closest friends are the butchest gay men this side of the leather daddies and bears) and never have they balked. (Though, I kind of wish I had more bear friends… I would call myself a Bear Hugger! Ha, ha! Yeah, anyway.)
Second, what, exactly, is wrong with a “flaming queen”? It is my turn to be miffed - how dare YOU be so presumptuously judgmental as to imply that there is something wrong with a gay man who is more flamboyant or feminine? It’s actually hard for me to keep my composure in addressing this particular bit of your comment. My first reaction was a basic two word response, but I’m trying very hard to keep this at least somewhat civil. I’ll leave it simply at pointing out the ignorance in your statement. Just because something or someone is stereotypical doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with them - stereotypes become stereotypes because they actually do exist - so don’t give me this crap about a stereotype being a bad thing. Believe me, there are thousands upon thousands of so-called “stereotypical” gay men out there. For you to find the implication of someone being a flaming queen to be insulting only shows your own prejudice. Most of the flaming queens I know embrace that label with unrestrained enthusiasm.
Now the word fag on the other hand, oh sister, that one’s got a long history as a belittling label. I won’t bother pasting the whole history of it here, but I suggest you hop on over to the Wikipedia entry on the word and find further enlightenment. (Specifically, pay close attention to the Culture section of that entry.) I will share this one portion: “…usage of the term ‘fag hag’ to describe a woman who associates with (and may prefer as non-sexual social partners) gay men, though this use, too, was originally pejorative.”
There is a school of thought that says “owning” pejorative terms dulls the sting, but honestly, that’s a much larger discussion than I have the energy to take on at the moment. Suffice it to say, rather than own a pejorative, I’d instead come up with something nicer to be used in its place. And when it comes to the word fag on its own, no matter how many of my friends are gay, being a straight female I have no rights to “own” that word. (My friend Faggoty Ass Faggot can, of course, own it all he likes.) If your friends are ok with you calling them “your fags,” good for them and good for you. I’ve done it before - I can’t claim immunity on the subject - but I’ve made efforts to end that practice as I think the word just has too harsh of a history for me to be comfortable with. Let me state for the record, if any of my friends take offense to my use of the word fruit, I’ll work toward coming up with something else. (Though it would totally suck to have to rename my blog, and my URL, and my username in several places… so, um, friends of mine, don’t get freaking offended, ok?)
Just for kicks, I’ll give you a little test to try, if you’re so sure of your personal ownership of the word fag: Walk up to a group of gay men you don’t know and say, “Hey fags!” You might be able to talk your way out of the nasty looks you’ll get eventually, but I’m reasonably sure they won’t be welcoming you warmly.
A quick aside here as well: Let’s just take a moment to discuss the end part of your beloved phrase. Hag? Yeah, well, darling, if that’s what YOU want to be called, go for it. I’d just as soon not be called a hag till I am one. (Though I’m personally aiming for “crazy cat lady” in my old age, thanks.)
“Do whatever you want, but you absolutely have no right outside of your right to express yourself in words, to change a term that has defined a group of women who are a beloved part of the gay community.”
You apparently read something other than what I’ve written. I’m not trying to change anything. You and all the other fag hags in the world are free to call yourselves anything you damn well please; not once have I said that you shouldn’t call yourself that, and there are plenty of fag hags left in the world. I however, would prefer to be thought of in a slightly less derogatory manner if someone just has to label me in some way.
“I for one am a Hag dammit, and I am motherfucking proud!!!!!!”
Whatever floats your boat, babe.
“Shame on you for not saying the same.”
Again, it’s taking every bit of restraint to not reply with a simple fuck you. But here goes anyway: No, shame on you for being such a judgmental and ignorant shit-stirrer. I am inclined to think you have reacted so strongly because you see too much of yourself in the negative aspects of the fag hag definitions.
Before you call someone out, it’s a good idea to do your homework and make sure you know what you’re talking about, and you obviously didn’t. I feel no shame whatsoever in distinguishing myself from the likes of you Amy. Not at all.
I really hope I’ve made it worth what was obviously an interminable wait on your part for my response.
Mel, a proud fruit fly