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What is a Fag Hag?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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The slang term “fag hag” is used to describe a woman, usually straight, who has a close friendship with one or more gay men. This slang term is a bit slippery and rather curious, since it combines two epithets which are usually considered offensive, and it was in fact originally used as an insult. Today, the term is usually used self-referentially, or by members of the gay and lesbian community, and use of this slang by outsiders may be viewed as only marginally appropriate.

Fag hags may hang out with homosexual men for any number of reasons. Some women simply happen to befriend gay men because they feel that they have a lot in common, while others may actively cultivate friendships with gay men because they view these relationships as safe from sexual drama and tension. Some people accuse fag hags of being secretly in love with their gay buddies, suggesting that women befriend gay men with an eye to converting them.

The slang term “fag” for a gay man is generally deemed highly inappropriate. It is derived from “faggot,” another slang term for a gay man, and it has been in use since the early 20th century. “Hag” is an offensive term used to describe women, usually in the sense of women who are ugly, cruel, old, or aggressive. The combination of both of these offensive pejoratives in a single epithet which is often used affectionately is a bit confusing. "Fag hag" probably reflects the desire of the gay and lesbian community to co-opt terms which have historically been used offensively.

You may also hear a fag hag referred to as a fruit loop or homo honey, illustrating some other examples of co-option of offensive slang terms. People who enjoy hanging out with gays and lesbians in general may be called fruit flies, while men who establish friendships with gay women are known as Dutch boys, for reasons which remain obscure. A number of stereotypes surround fag hags, belying the diversity of friendships between gays and lesbians and the straight community.

As in the case of other terms which have very negative connotations, it is important to tread carefully when using “fag hag” to describe someone. As a general rule, unless a woman explicitly identifies herself as a fag hag, the term should not be used. People who are not allies or members of the gay and lesbian community may want to avoid this particular piece of slang altogether.

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Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a PublicPeople researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon946882 — On Apr 22, 2014

"For reasons which remain obscure"? Doesn't it probably come from the story called "The Hero of Haarlem," where the Little Dutch Boy saves a town from inundation by the sea by sticking his finger into a leaking dike?

By anon329347 — On Apr 09, 2013

In answer to Anon, as the article states males hanging out with lesbians are called Dutch boys.

By anon313960 — On Jan 15, 2013

It all depends. My mother has a very close and loving gay friend, friends for years, who she says had he not been gay, they would have probably married each other.

The same goes for heterosexual friendships between men and women. Some may lead to a romantic or sexual attraction, obviously. Yet, others remain completely platonic.

As a straight man who has had gay friends, the same can be said there too. Most are respectful and see one with eyes that are fully aware one is not part of that sexual orbit but others, despite the great people they are, have forced me to keep a distance.

By anon297746 — On Oct 17, 2012

I agree with Monika. You can have love for your "fag" as he is special but it doesn't mean you harbor romantic feelings for him. Please -- how insulting to oneself and your "fag"

By Monika — On Jun 06, 2012

I think the whole idea that fag hags are secretly in love with their gay friends is pretty insulting to all parties involved. You don't have to secretly be in love with someone to be their friend!

That's like saying that straight men and straight women can't be just friends because one of them will have feelings for the other. I haven't found this to be true at all. I have several close male friends that I have strictly platonic relationships with. So if a straight woman and straight man can be just friends, why can't a gay man and a straight woman?

By ceilingcat — On Jun 05, 2012

@Azuza: I agree that you have to be careful using this term. As the article said, it might be a good idea to wait and see if the "hag" in questions refers to themselves as a fag hag before you do!

Interestingly enough, I've never heard this term actually used by a straight woman who is friends with a gay man. I've mostly heard people use this term about heterosexual couples where they suspect the male partner is gay. As in, "Doesn't she know she's really just a fag hag?" Definitely not a very nice thing to say!

By Azuza — On Jun 05, 2012

I think it's very interesting how marginalized communities tend to co-opt derogatory slang words and make them their own, as this article is describing. I've noticed that the gay community has done this, African-Americans have done this, and some feminists have embraced certain derogatory terms for women.

I definitely agree with what the article said, though; if you aren't a member of one of these communities, you should definitely tread carefully if you're going to use one of these terms. I've definitely heard people use the term "fag hag" in an insulting way, so even if you aren't trying to be insulting, someone could easily take it the wrong way.

By chivebasil — On Jun 05, 2012

Is anyone aware of what would probably be called the opposite of a fag hag? I mean a straight man who hangs out with lesbian women. I have a number of lesbian friends, and while our relationship does not seem to be the same as is present in most fag hag relationships, we are fairly close. Is there a term for this? Has anyone written about this phenomenon?

By backdraft — On Jun 04, 2012

I have had a few friends that would probably fall under the banner of this name. But it is not as desperate or as sad as it sounds. Often it is a reciprocal relationship.

The woman finds attention and affection from a man who is not very likely to judge her, and the man find support and affirmation from a woman who will not reject him. It can become toxic, for sure, but it can also be a relationship filled with love, support and mutual understanding.

By anon154713 — On Feb 21, 2011

is there a name for a male that hangs out with lesbians?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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