Mom genes?: Salon discussion on why "gay hags"

The first time somebody wanted to be my fag hag, it was the year 2000, I was 16 years old, and I was sitting in the back of a high school physics class. A fun South Asian girl to whom I'd recently admitted I was a "flaming homosexual" was chatting with me about her boy problems, and, at some point, the discussion veered onto familiar territory: "Will & Grace," the hit NBC show about a gay man living with his straight female friend. I don't remember much of the conversation. I do remember the following: She told me that she was going to be the "Grace" to my "Will," and then uttered the words that would haunt me for years to come, "I want to be your fag hag."

[. . .]

But the neutered gay characters on the show were about as sexual as a pastel-colored cardigan, and in the decade since the show first aired, the fag and his hag have become a tired trope everywhere from "Sex and the City" (Carrie and her queeny sidekick Sanford) to "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" (NeNe Leakes and her "gay boyfriend"). It's turned what was once a special relationship between two cultural outsiders -- gay men and the straight women who love them -- into an eye-rolling cliché. It also turned me and other young gay men into something unexpected: a must-have item.

[. . .]

I would mention my boyfriend to a girl in my biology lab, and she would inexplicably plop down next to me in class for the rest of the semester. Strange drunken girls at college keg parties would tell me that they're really "a gay man in a woman's body," and ask me to take them to the local gay bar. At a recent birthday party, a female friend of mine (who later described herself as a proud "fag hag") forced me into conversation with another gay friend of hers before telling us, "I thought my two fags should meet -- maybe you can date?" as we both stared at each other uncomfortably. (Thomas Rogers, “Ladies: I’m not your gay boyfriend,” Salon, 18 August 2009)

The attraction to guys comes later; first comes presumptive use by women

I'm one that believes becoming gay is not so much choice or destiny as it is a psychic defense mechanism: it develops out of being used presumptively (read: incestually) by your lonely, depressed mother, and means that you feel yourself largely armored against further shameful abuse by "women." Probably meant, though, that as a boy you understood your role was to please her, work against her depression, loneliness, and that meant becoming quite good at reading her moods and tending to her emotional needs. These characteristics don't go away; nor does that learned, near instinctive reaction to please "women" who come to you expecting attendance/support--your embrace. Women ("fag hags") intuit all this, and some take advantage of it; gays respond, willy-nilly, and end up feeling played on/preyed upon, once again. Result: angry, righteous responses--hateful slurs, even, however well "protected"--such as this article. More self-defense.

One of Ginsberg's poems--I believe it was the Howl--more-or-less dramatizes/argues all of this. Doesn't inform my intuition, but kinda confirmed it for me.

- - - -

Re: PMH

Sexual attraction for either gender, by either gender is not the result of dysfunctional parenting nor childhood trauma. It's hard wired into your system the way Apple or IBM compatible is hard-wired into the systemboard of a PC.

The need to distance yourself from it by explaining it away with theories that have, long since, been discounted and/or disproven likely is, however. As the old saying goes... "denial" is not just a river in Egypt. (gkrevvv, response to post, “Ladies: I’m not your gay boyfriend”)

Everything is DNA related these days. There was a huge turn away from childhood/psychoanalytic explanations for behavior, at the end of 70s/early 80s. Some of us think this is not owing to greater accuracy, but to collective aversion/cowardliness--distancing, if you will. Few anxieties are raised, reprisals invited, if one speaks of genes--doesn't say much for science as objective, but in my judgment, that is the why of it. If it was/is early incestual use by mothers, the slur (of women) as "fish" seems about what you'd expect.

Saying it's all about incestual handling--something most of us, to a less or greater extent, have experienced--puts me in denial, makes me gay--how's that again?

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Re: Patrick McEvoy-Halston and Faxmebeer

Patrick McEvoy-Halston: Spare us your bullshit pseudo-psychological theories about the origins of homoosexuality. Let me break it down simply for you - homosexuality is an inborn genetic trait. Period. It has nothing to do with "over-mothering" or "feminizing" of male children by mothers and female siblings. Study after study has proven this.

Faxmebeer: It's hilarious to me how every time Salon posts an article dealing with gays or lesbians, there is some insecure ignoramus who posts something that reads like it just came out of seventh grade gym class. Every time! Seriously! It's like clockwork. Now, hurry along Faxmebeer, or you might be late for your Birther meeting, or how UFO's are secretly controlling the stock market. (DQuintanaNY, Response to post, “Ladies: I’m not your gay boyfriend”)

Re: @ Patrick McEvoy-Halston

Is gayness innate or a reaction to deprivation/abuse? Has anyone studied the commonalities of gay backgrounds?

Is male fondness for lavender and snap-snark more innate than NASCAR mania?

Is Oscar Wild more healthy a paradigm than John Wayne?

Are not macho and fey locked in a mutual un-admiration society hug?

Alice Miller, writing about child abuse, mentions that Freud originally believed his patients WERE sexually abused. When Viennese society turned on him (due to guilt?), he recanted, saying parents didn't screw children, evil kids wanted to screw Mom and Dad.

So might gays deny parental abuse be fudging (!) things for the same reason?

Are 1 in 10 of us really gay...or is that a faux-fact used to make homosexuals feel "normal"?

Why is gayness any more "natural" than being a "cutter"?

I suspect politics and emotions inform both sides of the Great Het/Homo Divide. (MerelyMortalMale, Response to post, “Ladies: I’m not your gay boyfriend”)

Re: @patrick mcevoy-halston

It's a nice theory. The trouble is, your description perfectly fits my mother and her relentless neediness has had pretty much exactly the effect on me you describe - the need to please, to be understanding, the resentment - except it didn't turn me gay. I guess that could be because my dad was such an arse too, but I dunno. That would mean I was - what? - a repressed homosexual who was only homosexual because his painfully conflicted relationship with his mother had repressed his heterosexuality. Oy, the layers of the onion. In the end, I know what looks good to me and turns me on. That, at least, seems pretty straightforward. (digitbit, Response to post, “Ladies: I’m not your gay boyfriend”)

@digitbig; @MerelyMortalMale:

@digitbit:

I'm glad you're aware of the effect your mother's "relentless neediness" had on you. Being geered to respond to everyone else's needs, means not sufficiently attending to your own.

@MerelyMortalMale:

Is gayness innate or a reaction to deprivation/abuse? Has anyone studied the commonalities of gay backgrounds?

There surely must be studies, but this is one of those areas where certain results would be preferred; others, rather not so much. I don't think gayness is innate.

Is male fondness for lavender and snap-snark more innate than NASCAR mania?

I'm with those who say NASCAR prowess is born out of early-on feeling all too vulnerable and weak. There's a lot to be said for guys who like lavender. Many of whom get to like and know snap-snark, to fend off those who see in you the friendly lather.

Is Oscar Wild more healthy a paradigm than John Wayne?

As popularly understood/processed, neither is particularly good. Both are strong; both tend--however differently. But they're also both the lone man (note: escape from female/motherly enmeshment through loner status) with the capacity to take on and out a culture of "heathens"--which is great for revenge fantasies, but not so much for healing the world.

Are not macho and fey locked in a mutual un-admiration society hug?

All macho were once fey (machos primarily understand the fey as vulnerable, open to attack: weak, dressed-up dolls--girlie toys). Machos aim to annihilate feys in hopes that by doing so their own weakness, vulnerableness, is now more than denyed: it is destroyed. For all the talk these days of straights and gays going camping together, I think we're beginning to head that way now.

Alice Miller, writing about child abuse, mentions that Freud originally believed his patients WERE sexually abused. When Viennese society turned on him (due to guilt?), he recanted, saying parents didn't screw children, evil kids wanted to screw Mom and Dad.

Freud's original understanding was correct. Viennese society turned on him because most of us understood early-on, that blaming mom and dad means forever being absent their support and love--we ourselves put the superego in place, to school us away from ever going "there."

So might gays deny parental abuse be fudging (!) things for the same reason?

Yep.

Are 1 in 10 of us really gay...or is that a faux-fact used to make homosexuals feel "normal"?

If gayness is better/more accurately understood as wariness to female/maternal enmeshment, manipulation, then the majority is gay. Patriarchy means neglected mothers. Neglected mothers cannot help but squeeze the love out of their kids, in an attempt to satisfy their own unmet needs. This has consequences--like future aversion to too present/ pressing women. This last election, how many reporters seemed comfortable interviewing, being in near proximity to, Hillary Clinton? How comfortable did Obama seem?

Link: “Ladies: I’m not your gay boyfriend” (Salon)

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