I think if you have to ask, you shouldn’t be using it. IOW, those members of the LGBTQ community who feel comfortable using it do so quite freely. Those of us not so affiliated would be well advised to not use the term. It’s not exactly flattering, and tends be used in a joshing manner by LGBTQ folks.
One of my female friends came out and didn’t know any other lesbians or anything about the lesbian scene here, so I (a straight male) brought her out to the lesbian bars a few times and proudly decreed myself a fag stag.
Yeah, but the term “fucking asshole” is technically derogatory, and I call my roommates that all the time. It’s all about context within a relationship/community, and- though I’m not gay- I do live in the Castro and find myself the only straight person in the room fairly often- “fag” is not necessarily an insult, and “fag hag” is probably even less insulting. (Same with “fruit fly.” )
I realize it may sound a bit snotty, but I agree with this.
A (very gay) colleague of mine refers to his ever-expanding retinue of straight female friends as “fruit flies”. His argument is that “hag” isn’t flattering to a group of attractive mid-20s women.
As to the “fag” part of the equation, my experience with gay friends is that the word carries about as much stigma as “bitch” does in either gay or straight communities. It only becomes offensive if the context and tone clearly indicate it’s not being used as a term of endearment.
The modern fag hag is like Grace on Will and Grace (and many times on the TV show they referred to Grace has WIll’s “hag”). A woman whose best non-romatintic friendships are with gay men.
But it has morphed from it’s earlier incarnation. I think it was originally for women who always always fell in love with gay men, therefore were perpetually single and suferring from the angst of unrequited love until they’d lost their youthfulness and were doomed to be perpetual spinsters, hence the “hag” part. Think if Patty and Selma on the Simpsons had crushes on gay men in stead of MacGuyver.
But the term seems to have evolved, so it refers now more to the straight women who spend a lot of time hanging out with gay men and are totally at ease in the gay scene.
There may be regional differences though, in the same way that “queer” can be totally fine and acceptable in both mainstream and gay culture as a good umbrella tem that covers all of GLBTQ, whereas in some place (and with some generations) it’s offensive.
ETA: Mahna Mahna it’s interesting that if I hear “fag” I don’t necessarily think it’s offensive, depending on context, but if I hear “faggot” I’m gonna get up in arms and want to smack you for talking about my sister (or any of her friends) that way.
Me too. I don’t think that “fag” is really that bad, but I think that’s partially because I haven’t heard it used as a “straight talking about gays” term in a really long time, but just like you “faggot” raises my hackles instantly.
Agreed. The two terms are on different ends of the offense-o-meter spectrum.
On the flipside, why is it that “gay” can still be acceptably used as a substitute for “lame”? It’s right up there with “I got gypped” or “don’t Jew me” in my books -the terms may have been acceptable once upon a time, but that have some pretty nasty stereotypes lying just under the surface.
Having been classified as a “fag-hag” in my younger days (only because I hung out with so many gay guys), I never found it derogatory. Interestingly enough, while joking with one of our $tarbucks guys (who happens to be a former Miss Seattle Drag), I was told that I am “not fat enough to be a fag hag.” I never knew there was a weight requirement
Now, the word “fag” is a different story – it goes along with “nigger,” “bitch,” and many other words of the ilk. It can be acceptable under certain circumstances – as indicated by the term “nigga please” – but if used derisively, well, shit, it’s derisive.
As with any other word or combination of words, if you don’t like it, don’t use it, but don’t try to police the world. Not everyone is offended by words.
I thought about the “nigga”/“nigger” comparison, but “fag hag” is different in that it’s (pretty much by definition) allowed to be used outside the group the slur refers to. I know I can use the term fag hag among gay friends because they know how I’m using it, but there’s no way I’m saying “my nigga” among black friends, even if it’s meant in friendship.
The term ‘Fag Hag’ as I understood it in Duluth and St. Paul meant a fat and/or ugly woman who drank with gay men simply for lacking in straight male company. The first part of that definition would make it derogatory.
There is a difference among the groups, though. I admit that I have a few black friends around whom I would never even think about using the phrase “nigga please” but I have other black friends around whom I am considered family and it slips out naturally. Same thing with groups of homosexuals – there are a few gay guys that I am friends with in front of whom I would never use the term “fag” but others with whom it is a natural word.
I think, at the end of the day, it boils down to “if you don’t know someone well enough to feel comfortable using a word or a phrase, don’t use it.”
I always thought the term was more for women who talk and act like flambouyantly gay men. That of course, usually comes from hanging around with them a lot, but not all women who do so wind up that way.
My gay brother has often referred to me as his ‘fag-hag’ and it is almost always in the context of he and I going somewhere together in public as a ‘couple’ - i.e., out to dinner together, to a concert, etc. He’s never said it in a derogatory manner nor did I take it that way. Between my brother and myself, it’s as if it is a term of endearment.