When I was straight, I tried to be a fag hag for a while, but it seemed to require too much caretaking and steadfast adoration on the part of the hag, and not much in return from the fag.
After I came out, I was immersed in lesbian feminist women-only culture, and didn’t miss men for a long time.
Last year, I met this gay guy Paul in the park, when my dog, who lacks social skills, actually didn’t bark at his dog. Mutual tolerance quickly became full on best friendship.
Meanwhile, Paul’s and my relationship developed more slowly. We slid gradually into seeing each other every day with the dogs, then going out without the dogs, then running across the street to each other’s apartment to borrow things or eat together.
Someone asked me the other day if Paul was my gay boyfriend. I said no, because the label makes me think of a swishy, bitchy fag who would criticize my clothes and make catty comments about my dyke friends. Paul so far has shown little interest in my fashion choices and is far less catty than I am.
In fact, Paul cut through my laziness and cynicism and convinced me to go to the Dyke March last month. At the end of the march, we settled down on a blanket with our dogs, between a gang of leather dykes and some lesbians in Tevas with their little kids.
Paul turned to me. “I’ve just figured out why I like lesbians better than gay men. You don’t conform. Look at how different all these women are.”
Telling each other about our lives has been more than getting to know each other better as individuals; it’s been a kind of cross-cultural experience. Paul asks me lots of questions about dykes.
“Are lesbians reclaiming ‘dyke’ kind of like gay men reclaimed ‘fag?'”
“You shave your legs? I thought lesbians didn’t do that.”
“A lot of lesbians play softball, right?”
“Do lesbians have open relationships?”
A few years ago these questions would have pissed me off. I would have resented Paul’s lack of knowledge of dyke culture, and the sexism and lesbian invisibility that I would assume lay behind them. But now I appreciate this gay man’s sincere curiosity about dykes. And I enjoy the opportunity to talk about my culture and be reminded of how proud and grateful I am to be part of it.
My new friendship with Paul has challenged my assumptions about the kind of friendship I could have with a gay man. In a small, quiet way he has become an important part of my queer world.