Queer Books with Julie: Girlfag by Janet Hardy
Girlfag: A Life Told in Sex and Musicals
by Janet W. Hardy
“This is the man I want to be. The man I want to fuck. The man I want to own. The man.”
“The man” is the “sublime” King of Siam in The King and I: “an endlessly fascinating and contradictory package of virility and uncertainty, tenderness and arrogance, all wrapped up in silk and machismo.” Of course Ms. Hardy would fall in love with the King. He is masculine but pretty, powerful and frightened. A fag. And Hardy doesn’t just want to fuck this man, she wants to be him. A girlfag. Wikipedia defines girlfag as a person “assigned female at birth who feels a strong attraction to gay and bisexual men. [They] often have an affinity for gay male culture.” Hardy describes them as “female bodied person(s) who loves and identifies with gay men, who yearns to connect as a man with a male lover.” I can relate.
An author friend says that in order to write you have to be able to unzip yourself; to really dig down into the core of your being and expose it all. It’s a frightening prospect. In Girlfag: A Life Told in Sex and Musicals, Hardy unzips herself and shares her journey of sexual exploration and identity. She is open and forthright about her sexual experiences—there are many; and unapologetic for her love of musicals. Hardy’s book is informative and philosophical, a chronological tale of her sexuality, but also a reflection of how her experiences and relationships have shaped her identity.
While the term girlfag may be a relatively new one, Hardy points out that they’ve been around for a long time. For example, the author George Sand, born Aurore Dupin, sported men’s clothing and had numerous love affairs with men and women. She dated Frederic Chopin and was “infatuated with [his] fey fragile beauty and prodigious talent.” He, in turn, was “terrified of her obvious carnality.” Says Hardy, “offered a choice between manhood and womanhood, marriage and promiscuity, domesticity and passion, lust and maternal tenderness, George’s answer was always and wholeheartedly: yes.” I say yes, too.
Hardy’s first love was Captain Hook. At age six she admits she wanted to live in Neverland with Peter, Wendy and the Captain, and learn to fly. Hardy has been heavily influenced by stage productions, particularly musicals. If Hardy’s life were a musical, it would be “a cult favorite, off-off-Broadway at best.” The well-known crowd pleasers—Oklahoma and South Pacific, for example—“[give] you a little bit of safe controversy so you’ll be able to tell your friends it had a message.” Hardy wants to be the kind of musical that leaves her “heart pounding and brain buzzing” so that it would “never again seem artificial for people to burst into song in the middle of a conversation. What would seem artificial is that they don’t.”
Hardy received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from St. Mary’s College of California. She has traveled the world teaching alternative sexual philosophy and practice, and is the co-author of the best-selling The Ethical Slut. She describes herself as a sadomasochist currently “in my third and fourth long-term relationships.” She has two sons but isn’t a grandma yet, though she claims to bake like on. She’s also a terrific writer. It takes guts to unzip. I’d say that she’s learned to fly.
I am a bisexual girlfag. I just didn’t know it until I read this book. And that’s part of the book’s importance. Sometimes the labels, “gay,” “lesbian,” “straight,” “transgender,” bisexual,” don’t quite fit reality. “Queer” gets closer. With sensitivity and humor, Hardy strays outside the box, illuminating a world in which you might just recognize yourself. I also share Hardy’s love of musicals. My partner, David (also bisexual – told you I was a girlfag) and I often burst into song. We sing the lyrics of Billy Joel’s Piano Man to the tune of Oh What a Beautiful Morning in the shower. Doesn’t everyone?
Girl Fag is available on Amazon.com here.
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing . . . and NOT arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel - Two Tickets to Freedom - a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.
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