I was walking on Davie the other night and had one of those moments where you cringe inside because you see something or someone that reminds you of yourself at a time when you were a lot younger and knew a lot less about yourself and your place in life. There was a skinny guy and a bigger girl, they couldn’t be much older than 18 or 19, and they were both done out in glitter and make-up, their hair ‘did’, holding hands being loud and laughing about who knows what, “like OMG!” Not only am I cringing for these two youth parading around Davie St being so TRAGIC while everyone around them knows it but them, but because in another world that was me not 10 years ago (sans make-up, thank you very much) with one of my best friends at the time.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had a fag hag in high school. Growing up gay and realizing it from a young age, I always had a lot of girlfriends. I don’t know why, I just felt like I could get along better with them, be more myself with them. I didn’t think that I had much in common with the jocks, goth guys, science nerds or ESL crew at school so I hung out with a lot of girls.
She was the first person that I came out to, we were both really tight. We would watch sad movies together, go shopping together, practice kissing on each other, and fight over who would marry Ryan Phillipe and then decide that we’d share him. We depended on each other for almost everything. People often thought that we were dating. I didn’t care and neither did she. We were essentially in a (mostly) non-sexual relationship.
When I would try to meet guys on the net and such (PlanetOut anyone?) she would be supportive but I always detected a hint of jealousy and passive-aggressiveness in her voice. She was pretty good compared to some of my other gay friends’ hags. I heard stories of them picking fights with their prospective boyfriends at the time, hags asking their fag to choose between the guy they’re going on a first date with or them because they were going to miss ‘movie night’? Really manipulative and desperate behaviour.
I have my theories on why I needed that kind of companionship at the time, and why this story gets repeated over and over today. I think it’s natural to seek unconditional love, to find someone that will love and accept them no matter what. The fag-hag relationship is safe for both parties, it’s dependable (not to mention dependent) but it keeps two people from really growing, maturing and finding themselves in my opinion. It’s like they aren’t attracted to each other yet have this weird need to be each other’s back-up plans for marriage, and maybe that’s what keeps them both in situations like these. The guy because he’s looking for love and acceptance at age 18 in the gay community who no one takes seriously and goes from one trick to another and she’s that constant that can fill his void. And she’s too self-conscious with her appearance and he’s the only male figure in her life she feels comfortable with and so projects a relationship-like fantasy between the two of them.
Many of these relationships have since ended (my own included) over the last decade as we have matured and built up the confidence to begin to carve out the lives that we want. I don’t regret it at all, and we both helped each other through a lot of tough times, but I know I am much happier now than I was then. May ex-hag rarely speak these days as I find that we have little in common now that we don’t have that ‘need’ for each other and that familiarity. The story is also paralleled with the gay guys that I grew up with, a couple of which I am still great friends with. They too have trouble connecting and moving on from that ‘toxic’ relationship with their hag. They are still friendly with them when they see them, but it’s a bit like exes awkwardly trying to get along.
I know most of us gays have been there at some point and have probably had or might still have our hags. To be fair, I must acknowledge that there are many fag and hag relationships that have great boundaries and conduct themselves more like friendships than relationships fraught with jealousy, in-fighting, and head games. Great examples exist in pop culture, from Will & Grace to Lily Allen’s song about her and her fag hag. But I return to these two on Davie Street and hope either A) that they’re straight and happy, or B) that one day soon they’ll both find their self-confidence, figure out who they are and realize that they don’t really need each other like they think they do and will stop holding each other back from the rest of their lives.