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She’s Nobody’s Fruitfly

I was coming out of the grocery store in my neighborhood and bumped into a friend of a friend who, when telling her my evening plans, said she “couldn’t wait to meet my gay.”

My…what?

Let me back up a bit. Growing up, I was familiar with homosexuality because of some of my family members. In college, a few of my classmates came out to me. Being involved in the performing arts, my comedy duo partner and I have performed in most of NYC’s gay bars and clubs. I have plenty of gay and lesbian friends and consider myself lucky for living in a city that is literally bursting with diversity. I am a generally liberal and open-minded person.

Now that we’ve gotten my history out of the way, let me say first that I understand the term “faghag” and if you don’t, here is the wikipedia entry. Because my comedy partner in crime, Jason, is both gay and one of my closest friends we’ve run into this stereotype before. Jason and I have been friends since college where we first performed together, and our on stage comedy chemistry translated into both a friendship and a musical duo. Despite hanging out and working together often we don’t fall into a lot of the other gay-male-straight-female stereotypes. I was never hopelessly in unrequited love for him. We didn’t date before he came out. We are not each others only close friends. He doesn’t pick out my clothes, hairstyle or makeup.

We’re friends. We respect each other. Onstage together we find ourselves hilarious. We do tell gay-themed jokes sometimes but he usually writes for me and I usually write for him. He doesn’t introduce me as his faghag. I tried once to say “my gays” recently and it felt both ridiculous and insulting although it did not insult the gay male I said it to.

In short, people are not property. He is not my gay. I am not his hag. If he were straight, would we still require labels for our friendship?

Some of you may be thinking, “Lighten up, it’s just slang and not usually meant to be offensive” and I know what you mean by that. When you’re out drinking and blowing off some steam sometimes it’s fun to just shout out stupid  things. We’ve all been there. However, if we all really believe that equality is a human right, then why do we keep celebrating stereotypes? If I want my gay friends to have all of the rights that my straight friends have, that I have, than why do I have to label them at all? I’m not thrilled when heterosexuals are referred to as “breeders” either, for that matter. If your parents weren’t “breeders” you wouldn’t exist. Boom.

Furthermore, when did anyone else’s sexuality become my business at all? Frankly I could care less if  someone sleeps with men or with women (or both.) If you’re anything like me you might have been introduced to a new group of people like this: “That’s Lisa, she’s an accountant, Maggie just sold her first painting, Jenny is the one from Jersey that I told you about, and that’s Brian and James, they’re gay.”

Oh really? That’s it? Brian and James don’t have jobs, talent, and aren’t from anywhere? The fact that someone is gay can easily be the least interesting thing about a person…and how did you expect me to start that conversation anyway? “Hey, I’m NotYourGuru, I hear you’re gay…how’s that going?” What all of this comes down to is that I love and respect the gay community and hope that members and supporters alike can be a little more open-minded as well. This is just my not-a-guru point of view. Thoughts? Leave me a comment below.

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14 responses »

  1. People are people and that’s that. Stereotypes, labels, all of these things fight to strip us of our individuality and lump “us” into some sort of category that would seemingly make “others” feel more comfortable.

    We’re breaking out of these prefabricated bubbles one guru blogpost at a time.

    Love,
    NotYour Gayru

    Reply
  2. Fantastic post! I couldn’t agree with you more. What an amazing world we would live in if there were zero LABELS and we were just humans. . . I’m nobody’s GAY and you are nobody’s fruitfly although you are a dear friend. ♥

    Reply
  3. Thank you Darlene. Part of the reason – a large part of the reason we cannot open our minds and let people in as people, just as they are is because of these ingrained stereotypes. We work from the outside in, instead of inside out (in other words, listening to the surface of the world we see and not digging deeper to our world within). And I admit, I’m not perfect. We all slip into a language sometimes that seems unfair…but most of us are not very self-aware. At least I have that and my friends have that- self awareness. It’s everything. We don’t talk enough nowadays…this is hopefully the spark for some conversation. It’s a step.

    Reply
  4. Interesting post. I have some thoughts…

    My gay friends (at least the ones where I live currently) actually referred to THEMSELVES as “my gays” before I ever did. Likewise, the few straight guy friends I have I refer to as “my straights.” No one seems to mind any of it.

    I don’t get worked up about being called a fruit fly, because I’d much rather be called that than a f–hag. Both the word f– and hag are derogatory separately, together it makes my skin crawl.

    I can see your point in that introducing a couple as “Brad and John, they’re gay,” when you don’t introduce anyone else as “they’re hetero” is at the least unfair and at the most disrespectful. However, nearly every gay person I’ve EVER met has used the phrase, “I’m gay…it’s who I am.” Personally, I never understood THAT. Really? Is that all you are? Just gay? Being heterosexual doesn’t make me “who I am.” It indicates that I’m a girl who prefers to sleep with guys and that’s where it ends. “Darci” is more than that. I feel if the gay community wants to place so much importance upon their sexuality alone, then how can they get upset when the rest of the world does, too? It’s confusing to me, much like I’m confused by the African American community not wanting anyone to use the N word, but they’re allowed to with each other.

    It’s all just one more thing to get pissed off about and I’m a person who tries to pick her battles. I’d rather punch the sky over repealing that stupid Prop 8 than something like this. But that’s just me and I’m sure I’ll get some mud slung at me for thinking so.

    Reply
    • No mud-slinging here Darci! All opinions are welcome. I think it’s all a matter of personal preference what a group of friends decides to call each other, ultimately. I feel that for many gay men and women it is such a struggle to come out that once they are finally able to be who they are, they cling to it fiercely and claim it with all that they are. I deeply respect that. Personally I dream of a world where there is no mythical closet to come out of and no one needs to summon up the courage to be who they are. I do plenty of sky-punching over the larger issues as well, so I feel ya on that, that’s another entry entirely! Thank you again for commenting and your very valid point of view!

      Reply
  5. Jhon Centurri

    I can only speak for myself although I would like to force the world to see things my way and I am working on that. I am not friends with anyone that would refer to me as “my gay” as it is demeaning to me, they would never trivialize our friendship that way, and they know better. In turn, I respect my female friends too much and value them beyond any sexual stereotypical pigeon hole, to call them “fag hag’ or “fruit fly” or any other trashy reference like that. I would never BE friends with anyone that would ALLOW me to call them that. I am not just my sexuality. Nobody is. If a gay person’s view of themselves is THAT identified with their sexuality that they allow themselves to be diminished in that way than they really need to create a more well rounded life and find some self respect. I don’t have gay friends that use those terms either. Don’t call me fag, girl, queer, or Mary. I am Jhon or sir, or Your Majesty. For me it is simply a matter of personal value and not allowing ANYONE to diminish me in those ways. I am simply better than that and so are my friends. Uppity? Maybe. Self-righteous. Uh-huh. So sue me. I don’t like it.

    *Incidentally, Prop 8 and movements like it are born from ignorance that gay people are less than, and when terms like “my gays” are used to describe HUMAN BEINGS who are equal, the wrong message is sent. It sounds to me like you are talking about freaks that are separate. Just something to think about.

    Reply
  6. Jhon Centurri

    Also in reference to Darci’s comment, the “gay community” is made up of many many different people with all kinds of opinions and thoughts and beliefs. We are not all the same, so using terms like “the gay community” as if we are ONE SINGLE ENTITY is erroneous and assuming. We are all individual people just like the “heterosexual community” is. There just aren’t as many of us.

    Reply
  7. love this post, thank you!

    Reply
  8. Excuse me, I would like for you to introduce me next time….
    This is my gay friend’s mother…She’s fat and pretty.

    Love the post. I am a LABEL Hater!

    Reply
  9. Thanks for letting me think aloud, Darlene. I like to hear all viewpoints and try to understand why people feel and think the way they do.

    Jhon, knowing how you feel about this subject, I wouldn’t dream of referring to you as anything but Jhon.

    Reply
  10. Really well said. People are not their sexuality or any other one defining feature. I feel like it’s similar when people say “So my friend Sue, she’s black, we were hanging out this one day…” And I wonder to myself “Do you ever talk about your white friends like that? My friend NotYourGuru, she’s white, we were hanging out one day…” I think when we classify people like that, what we’re really doing is shining light on our OWN prejudices we still have, the lines and social boundaries we still see, the “otherness” that we still understand though wish we could rid ourselves of. One voice at a time, we will change things. Thanks for lending your voice!!

    Reply
  11. Fantastic post lady.
    When I think about it I’ve probably said something along the lines of “I’m hanging out with my gay best friends tonight.” in the past at some point. Now that I hear how terrible it sounds I won’t make the mistake again. I only assume I probably did say that because I meant it to imply I was hanging at Gay bars all night. I think I’ve done the same thing to married friends come to think of it. How odd. I wonder why I felt the need to specify that.

    Reply
  12. Wow, this is such an interesting discussion. I’m currently reading a book about race and diversity, so this topic really pulled me in.
    As an African American woman, I’ve been struggling to figure out how to define myself without the African American woman part. Sure I’m smart, and attractive (and fat!) and articulate, and so many other things; but how could I possibly define myself without being an African American woman? Those are two (super obvious) defining traits that separate myself from the dominant group of the American culture. I think that it’s important to be able to identify yourself and or/others in ways that include [black, gay, Jewish, etc.] but also make it known there are other identifying traits associated with that person.
    However, when derogatory terms are used – all the ones that have been pointed out and more (and Darci, I’m part of the black community who doesn’t use the N word, and I don’t think anyone else should; just like Jhon doesn’t want to lump the entire “gay community” into one bucket; and all Darci’s aren’t the same *smile*) the term transcends an “identifier” and becomes something negative.

    Reply

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