Thursday, October 22, 2009
I NEED A GAY BEST FRIEND!!!
Diamonds may be forever, but it turns out that a gay boy is actually a girl's best friend, according to a new book that is the first definitive guide to the 'fag hag'.
That many straight women set great store by gay male friends won't surprise fans who've watched Will and Grace sharing the secrets of their souls, or Sex and the City's Carrie and her screaming-queen buddy Stanford or Madonna and Rupert Everett, on- and off-screen.
Now a new book chronicles the (mostly) ups and (occasional) downs of having a gay man as a girl's best friend. Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys - true tales of love, lust and friendship between straight women and gay men was launched in New York last week with a rainbow of hysterical real life stories and a few predictably melodramatic tear-jerkers. One of the book's editors, Melissa De La Cruz, said she sought to puncture the high-camp stereotype by telling how her gay male co-editor Tom Dolby was the rock-solid shoulder who was most there for her out of all her friends when she suffered a miscarriage and she and her husband were heartbroken. 'He was a real man,' she said.
Much happier reinforcing the stereotypes was fashion writer Karen Robinovitz, who had 'bridesgays' attending her at her wedding instead of bridesmaids and whose best friends and objects of unrequited lust growing up were always gay men. 'My friends muse that my love affair with boys who like boys is out of emotional safety, but I wholeheartedly disagree. It's all about fashion,' writes Robinovitz in her chapter Shop Girls.
While her female friends are competitive when shopping and 'secretly want your ass to look fat', her entourage of gay men makes her feel like 'Marie Antoinette and her court' as they encourage her to buy extravagantly, telling her she looks divine, while 'holding my handbags more gracefully than I do'.
Sitting to one side at the New York launch was Robinovitz's husband, Todd Cuso, a professional motorcycle racer. 'Her gay boyfriends are a fantastic bunch and they have that shared excitement about fashion,' he said.
Writer Armistead Maupin wrote the book's foreword, explaining that his era-defining Tales of the City columns, books and TV series about gay life in Seventies San Francisco were intended as one of the first public celebrations of 'fag hags', who feature as foils to his gay-blade protagonist Michael.
In real life Maupin had two straight women as close friends in those days. 'I shared everything: my exploits at the baths and the heartbreak that inevitably followed when I tried to turn playmates into lovers. I was braving the masculine wilderness for the first time and it helped immensely to have women on my side.'
Maupin also celebrates Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's and Liza Minnelli's Sally Bowles in Cabaret as his fag-hag idols when younger.
But while Maupin and the book's editors believe the fag hag is alive and well, British contributor Simon Doonan, creative director at posh New York department store Barney's, believes that punk, gay liberation and 'the new man' have killed them off. Doonan claims fag hags became obsolete because straight men are now less 'obnoxious' to be around.
De La Cruz described how, despite unrequited lust for the gay boys at her university, she valued their encouragement. 'They told me I was attractive and pushed me out there to start dating. I was 22 and still a virgin and they made me go on blind dates and they were the ones who gave me the confidence I needed.'
She said she and Dolby wrote the 'first literary guide to the fag hag' because they knew the relationships were everywhere but went 'deeper than Sex and the City or Will and Grace' and they wanted to chart it. Dolby said it was irresistible for gays and their fag hags 'to talk about men they were attracted to, knowing they would safely not be competing for the same man ... Gay men just love drama and that fits perfectly with straight women, who love drama too,' he said.