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“Fag hags are the backbone of the gay community”, says Margaret Cho, popular American comedian and defender of all things queer. However, things didn’t always look so peachy for the gay man’s more Dorothyesque counterpart. As is the case with faghood, haghood has an equally turbulent past, and, like most things gay, have come out on top once again and is now stronger than ever.

A fag hag can loosely be described as a heterosexual woman who prefers the company of gay men to that of straight men or other women. Think Grace from the popular American sitcom Will & Grace (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, get off Grindr and Google it, pronto). The relationship between Will and Grace perfectly encapsulates the dynamics between a fag and his hag, or if you will, a hag and her fag. Will & Grace starts off with the “happy couple” being very much in love, but the ideal is soon shattered when Will, a gay man feeling the pressure of being trapped in a straight relationship, pirouettes out of the closet and declares his undying love for men. A kick and a slap and a few Cyndi Lauper casettes later they make up and become the best of friends, doing everything together – living together, dating together, laughing, crying, bathing together, and, at some point even almost having a kid together. At various times during their friendship they question the closeness and intimacy of their bond, often blaming it, and one another (as a result) for their failed relationships and other dating ditties. They consistently speak of the invisible cord between them and oftentimes debate whether it does them more harm than good. Luckily for Will and Grace their story had a happy ending, but other fag/hag tag-teams aren’t as lucky…

Trying to pin point the exact time and place where the term fag hag was born would be like trying to find a mute puppy in a dark room, but luckily the internet gives us some clues to its origins. One popular theory dictates that the concept made its debut in America mid-fifties. The reason being that both the gay movement and the women’s liberation movement took shape during that time, with both parties being ostracised and placed on the fringe of the fifties subculture pond, challenging their status quo in an overbearingly patriarchal, predominantly homophobic society. Together they fought, side by side, tooth and nail for equal rights and respect, forming a close battle-bond that will endure for years to come. In fact, much of our freedom to mince, marry and multiply in public today is with great thanks to those who bravely laid the brickwork on our behalf back in the fifties.

Another theory suggests that the term fag hag was used as an insult for straight women who simply didn’t fit into heterosexual society full stop, that they were at the bottom of the social ladder and that even the gays (second to the lowest of the low) looked down on them for fear of being even more scorned than they were during dreadful gay bashing days, but not completely dismissing them altogether either. A sort of tempestuous relationship frothed between the two parties, fluctuating comfortably between a natural love and a superficial hate for each other. After all, who knew when they’d be needing a presentable and fabulously well-spoken plus one to their next soiree…?

Whatever the true origin of the term fag hag may be will stay a mystery for years to come, but the fact remains that they are an integral part of gay society and cannot be banished to the closets which they’ve so bravely helped us free ourselves from for so many years. They have waxed, dieted and Celine Dion-ed alongside us for centuries, and I have a sneaky suspicion that neither gays nor hags are ready to cut the umbilical cord just yet… if ever.

Some of my nearest and dearest feel that labels in general is a thing of the past and that a box is nothing more than a container for cheap wine. They are of the opinion that the time of the hag has come to an end and that the need for the classic hag has diminished due to a global recognition of gays and gay rights, rendering the once vital social crutch somewhat obsolete. Should the prickly pear label that occasionally offends some of our sisters be given the bull-dyke boot, or should it be glued back together and reinstated to its former glory, relishing a colourful history and owning what it has had to endure to get to this point in time?

Whatever your feelings on the matter, one thing is for damn sure: Hollywood has no shortage of these illustrious feather-boa’d, red lipsticked and generally quite loud and over the top divas. Bette Davis, the foul mouthed screen goddess of the 1940’s was almost always surrounded by a myriad of twinks, all fussing and fanning around her – making her a fagnet (fag magnet) of sorts, luring them in by the hordes. She was to gays then what Lady Gaga is today – a mouthpiece, a statement, a safe haven and most importantly a beacon of hope and light, unafraid to address the fluffy pink elephant in the room. Thanks to her and the likes of Kathy Griffin, Lily Allen and the adorably straight James Franco, amongst a plethora of others, gays have become somewhat of a commodity. Currently we are the “it” controversy on the planet, sparking a serious worldwide debate around same sex marriage, and as such the hags have taken us out of our display cabinets and are again proudly parading our well-kempt coifs on the red carpet of life. Gays have become the ultimate accessory, the proverbial Tamagotchi of the century – you simply cannot be caught dead without one!