There she was standing in the doorway of Miss Cumming’s homeroom class. Bangs teased and sprayed to resemble some wild flower, a broad, sweet smile across her face and a T-shirt of herself superimposed next to Jordan Knight under a caption that read, “Loving You Forever.”
I knew then, so many years ago, that we would be together for the rest of our lives. Her name is Sam and ours is a love story for the ages.
I have always taken issue with the term fag hag. I just can’t abide referring to someone I know and love as a hag. It is also quite presumptuous. The term summons up the preposterous stereotype of a straight woman who can’t develop lasting heterosexual relationships and has an unyielding sexual desire for the gay men she comes across. You could call them gay groupies or gaykicks.
Faghagdom is a worldwide phenomenon. In Spain, gay men adore their Mari Pili, the German value quality time with their schwulenmutti, the Dutch admire a good flikkerfeeks and the queer men of Japan can’t live without their okoge which, roughly translated, means the burnt rice that sticks to the bottom of a pot.
While some women such as the incomparable Margaret Cho wear the fag hag badge with pride and rightfully claim such hags are the “backbone of the gay community,” I find the moniker derogatory and misleading. I would like to find the one who coined this expression and personally smack him across the face.
Fagnet. Now there is term that, at least in my experiences, seems more fitting. It suggests that it is not a woman who swarms to and idolizes a gay man, but rather a woman whose many kick-ass qualities draw gay men to her like moth to flame.
Sam was the first in a handful of women that I came to adore. During puberty, I discovered the weird, wacky charm of the opposite sex and found I needed their company the way I need food and water.
I have always been able to connect with women in a way that I haven’t with men. I find I don’t really have to try. This connection often comes naturally.
I recall watching Sam in class before we ever really spoke and mentioning to a classmate that she reminded me of Linda Hamilton. Beauty and the Beast was on television at the time and I thought my observation was a flattering one.
After school, I made my way home and she stopped me in the parking lot. “Did you say I look like Linda Hamilton?” she asked. I said, “Why yes,” to which she laughed, no doubt thinking I was a complete dork. I was after all.
The tale of Trevor and Sam is still being written. Our paths diverged somewhat when we entered high school. She possesses an uncanny ability to draw people to her and was able to manoeuvre through the social constructs of secondary education. She was the glue that held each clique together. I, however, relegated myself to the Drama Weirdoes and Geek Brigade and admired her wit and style from the sidelines.
A closeted gay teenager’s survival depends greatly on the girls he forms a bond with. While Sam and I remained somewhat estranged during those high school years, I was able to forge ahead with the catty prowess of my dearest Nicole.
A fellow Drama Weirdo, Nicole often found herself judged for her sociably unacceptable behaviour. This was the girl who opted for her trusty dance oxfords over the traditional shoe, who once wore a noose around her neck at school and had the audacity to sport pigtails in an era when such hair heresy was strictly verboten.
A champion of the underdog, Nicole was never afraid to let her freak flag fly. By senior year, we had become so tight that I attributed much of my personal growth to her. It was she, this oddball vixen with a sly grin, who made me feel comfortable blasting through that closet door while still in school. No so-called fag hag date for the prom for me. I gots ma’self a man to wear on my arm.
Over the next several years I developed relationships with a handful of women of varying forms of awesomeness, from the vibrancy of Amber to the hipster cool of Vida.
Of course, as such tales like When Harry Met Sally have revealed, true love always finds its way back. Sam and I reunited in Vancouver and for close to 10 years we’ve been friends, siblings, confidants and gay husband/straight wife. Think less Will and Grace and more Grace and Jack: adorable redhead and self-involved mo.
There are many theories floating around hoping to explain why straight women and gay men form these bonds. Some say it is because we have similar interests in the arts and function on a more emotional level than others. However, that is far too general of an explanation.
Others, such as John Malone in his appropriately titled analysis “Straight Women and Gay Men,” figure we have a common bond extending from parallel human rights struggles that exploded in the late ’60s.
All I know is a day needs to be set aside to recognize the “backbone of the gay community.” I wonder if Stephen Harper wouldn’t mind commemorating a day to celebrate our sisters in arms.