‘Fag hag’ is a gay slang phrase referring to women who associate exclusively with gay or bisexual men. But you knew that anyway, didn’t you?
Now, I hate labels of any kind, but when a woman tells me “I love the gays” my toes curl. Even my nephew, when he was thirteen, was smart enough to not fall for that one. “They are just like everyone else, good and bad”, he shrewdly pointed out. It’s funny in Ab Fab when Adina blurts out “all my friends are gay”. Oh, the irony.
However, the women that happily label themselves fag hags tend to flag up serious warning signs. I have heard it so many times: “other woman just don’t get me, but you and the gay guys do.” This is usually followed by how she likes bad boys in bed. That’s nice for them. For me, I want to be liked as a person, not for my sexuality or a label.
Since my first time at a gay club in New York, the Limelight, I was aware of lots of very sexy women model types dancing. My friend told me: “they feel safe here. They can dance and not get hit on.” It was not long before the straight men caught onto this and started frequenting the more glamorous gay venues. On one occasion, I was with a group of guys when a very hot girl walked straight up to us and said “so sad you are all gay. I would f*** the lot of you!” A little voice piped up: “I am straight”. He was my pal who honestly leads the way in gay fashion but is 100% straight, though many men have tried their luck and a minute later found themselves in a taxi home.
Elizabeth Taylor loved the company of gay men, from Rock Hudson to Tab Hunter and Montgomery Clift. She described them as her confidants. Tallulah Bankhead, when she was not famously trying to sleep with gay men, preferred their company. Long ago, in the time of Mary Queen of Scots, Mary loved to quote the pretty men.
For me, I like people. It seems though by chance that many of my friends are female and quite glamorous and powerful. None of them would be described as fag hags. In their company I still keep to the traditional male role that I am comfortable with: opening doors, walking on the right side of the path near the road, and even pulling the chair out. Though some of the women I know try to lead when dancing and even pull the chair out for me.
Now, despite having some pictures taken to join a dating website, somehow I am no further along, and the woman who I would call one of my rocks, Liz Branson, is on the phone from her New York office. She splits her time between there, Dubai and London.
“Have you done it?” she enquires. Trying to get off the subject, I ask when she is in London next. There is a pause:
“You haven’t“, she snaps with an air of annoyance. Then she almost commands “Jo Allen’s, Tuesday 9.30”. She does not wait to see if I am free and hangs up. But then texts ten minutes later (“If you are free can you book it?”).
Liz is great fun, but always right about everything and obsessive, sometimes to a point where you want to scream. That’s what makes her so successful, alluringly and fascinating. She is also always late, arriving with some story, but the reality is it takes her half an hour to cover herself in body oil that makes her beautiful worked-out body glisten. That’s just the part of the beauty regime to go out. So, despite having brass balls when it comes to business and breaking many high-level men, she still likes to be every part a high-maintenance woman.
She is my Grace, as in Will and Grace, the TV show. Now, it is a common mistake to presume that women “get” gay men just because they hang out with them. Even the woman who proclaims: “I am just a gay man trapped in woman’s body” can be shockingly naive.
One long-term friend of 36 who grew up around the LGBTQ community, recently pointed out on a theatre visit that the show we’d gone to see was a great one for me just because it had five youthful boys, scantily dressed, in the cast. It did take me back. As pretty as they were they left me sexually cold. She must have noticed none of my boyfriends have been under 40.
My best gay mate would know that the male cast of Peaky Blinders or Colin Farrell would have me hot in my seat. But teen boys have as much effect as Dita Von Teese dancing – nice to watch. She was the same friend who once asked, “Why would you want to give head rather than take?”
This is the case with Liz, apart from one man who was straight when he lived with her and came out later, she really did not know any gay men until me. I think she presumed we all came in a mould, as she was quick to dash into another relationship with a gay man who was in a rush to take her to gay bars and so on.
My opinion is it should be mutual, and I am happy in a predominately straight bar/club, but as it’s rare I am in a gay bar I tend to have dinner or go to events. Liz rang me one night: “I am on Clapham Common”, she whispered down the phone. Enquiring if there was concert or some event, to my horror she replied, “no, I’m cruising with… Have you done this?” Really, I wanted to scream – this was a step too far. Needless to say, their relationship did not last when he tried to seduce Liz’s then-husband.
But it was not the first time that I heard of women going cruising with gay men. My former lady boss was once in a Freedom cab (a gay taxi company) when the driver said he was going to Hampstead Heath to drop condoms off by a tree in the cruising area. She jumped: ‘Oh, I have been there.” Some of her gay pals had taken her. This phenomenon had passed me by. One, I don’t cruise – it’s scary, and broadminded as I am, why would you take a woman?
Well, Liz is late as usual. She has texted several times, blaming the Uber driver, a lion escaping from Regents Park zoo, and a fire at the local orphanage. But when she arrives she’s looking spectacular, and the whole restaurant turn their heads to look at her. Liz runs her hands through her thick red hair, passes, and waves enthusiastically.
She has just become a vegan, and was difficult enough in restaurants before, but this is taking it to a whole new level. Once, after sending an omelette back four times, famously I took a picture of her perfect omelette and gave it to the waiter the next day, much to her annoyance. It’s just one of the things that make her amusing.
But back to the evening. Only one waiter and chef have resigned since Liz has placed her order – kidding. My suggestion that I nip to Tesco’s and get the soya sauce she wants so badly goes down like a lead balloon as she has everyone fussing over her.
There is quick chat about the gorgeous executive she went skinny dipping with in Dubai and how fantastic he was in bed. Do I think 15 years age difference is too much? Followed by she really is still into 50 shades of Darryl, a man she met at a conference and had the best sex ever with, but had turned out to be an asshole and who I hate hearing about for the 90th time.
The nice thing about Liz is she is not an energy vampire and likes to hear about you. But it’s the subject that’s not top of my list – my ‘love life’. She is convinced that my best pal and I should be together and that why I am not with anyone? The problem many people don’t get is you can have a purely platonic relationship when you’re gay with another gay man. Of course, I love my best mate, but have no plans to marry him. Losing track of how many times that I have told her ‘NO!!’, I tell Liz that’s it, I’ll ask him to marry me next week. There is a scream and she wants to order champagne. Liz’s face quickly drops when it’s pointed out it’s a tease. Well, I am sure it would have if she hadn’t had Botox two weeks before.
The subject is dropped, and we have lots of laughs and drinks, until she announces we are going to Old Compton Street for after-drinks. “Why?” I ask. Apparently, she loves GAY and the music. But my gut feeling is that she is very kindly obsessing about finding me a fella. My suggestion of our usual after-venue, Radio Bar, is met with a blank. Realising that she is doing something Liz thinks will be good for me, we take off.
There is no queue to get into GAY, but it is busy, and Liz wastes no time in turning into Cilla Black after getting a drink, and my heart falls as she starts randomly talking to men; all of course adore her right away. “Who do you like?” she shouts above the music. Liz introducing me to random men to reject me leaves me feeling like a rabbit in the headlights. “I’ll be discreet”, she bellows.“I’m all good, thanks” and hug her.
Liz starts dancing with some colourful drag queens and shouts “I’m a gay icon!” Of course they all agree. Much as there is room for interpretation, Madonna or Judy she isn’t, but for that night she was. It was so kind of her to care.
Flushed with her success at GAY, she wants to explore more, so we head to a bar on Rupert Street, as a friend of mine is there anyway. Her one-woman show goes down well there, too. I have already briefed her that my American pal is a friend, and not to think about bringing up whether we are dating or anything of that nature. She thinks he’s too young anyway, so I am off the hook.
Liz is now befriending the handsome doorman, who turns out to be heterosexual and married. He waves me over. “Why don’t you take your girlfriend somewhere she can meet a man?” My reaction was to smile. “She wanted to come here, not me.”
Besides, who says she would not meet a fella there? My sister had a holiday romance in Key West with a man who managed a gay club, and one lady friend married a bar man who worked in one.
Liz and I are still happily single, but watch this page for more tales.
Steven is a published author, regular radio guest and has a monthly column in MilliOnAirMagazine.