Straight women, gaydar & popular culture

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Nobody's ever known that I was gay without either my telling them or my being in a context where Occam's Razor would justify assuming my love of my fellow male wasn't simply an abstraction. Instead of growing up swishy I grew up to be someone indistinguishable from your local garage mechanic. (And someone who loves swishy guys.)

It isn't like I went to Butch Academy. I suspect most gay men grow up acting just like most men. I'm not fool enough to feel like guessing when gay men first started playing the queen (say, late 19th century). Possibly some of them felt their desire for a man meant they were needed to act like a woman. Or as it transpired sometimes as a parody of a female. Irony was sometimes attached and what we call camp was born. Some gay men do identify with women on some level and they do grow up with feminine body language and interests. No reason to deny that, in my shop I've watched a couple of them from youngest boyhood. The conventional queer majority resent them giving us the term sissyphobia.

Not that many an unfeminine gay man hasn't pinged my gaydar. Some years back it was a trim of beard and/or moustache that made me think to myself "He's a homo." Even today how a guy's pants fit combined with certain haircuts will leave me feeling fairly sure I'm looking at another queer. Originally I positioned the gay books section in my shop near the front in the hope that it would make it easy for gay folks to find them. I've found it a handy way to verify the quality of my Gay Detection System.

Still I don't feel like forgiving the heterosexual media for this:

I would be the worst possible candidate for the new Fox reality show and ultimate gaydar test, Playing It Straight, which premieres at 8 tonight. In this deceptive dating game, Appleton, Wis., college girl Jackie will be pitted against 14 potential paramours, some of whom are secretly gay, all of whom are set on seducing her. If Jackie chooses a straight contestant, both she and her dream man split a million dollars. If she selects a gay player, he pockets the full fortune.

The same concept was used last year on Bravo's Boy Meets Boy, but in that case, it was a gay man navigating his way through a group of gay and secretly straight guys.

Ciara Byrne, the creator and executive producer of "Playing It Straight," says the inspiration for the show came from her experience living in gay-heavy communities such as New York's Greenwich Village and Washington's DuPont Circle, where she didn't have the best-honed gaydar. "I've dated a lot of gay men in my time," she says.

"We cast against type," she says, noting that the heterosexual contestants are of the "metrosexual" variety, and the gay ones easily could pass as straight. "The fact that a guy waxes his eyebrows doesn't mean he's gay."

Guess who's gay

VH1 is producing a pilot for a TV show called Gaydar:

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - VH1 has ordered a pilot for "Gaydar," a reality project in which celebrity guests try and guess whether contestants are homosexual.

Earlier: Queer black eye, boy defeats boy and White Face for the Black Man?

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That poor woman is in trouble…

A straight friend of mine still hasn’t figured out after 20 years why I have better relationships with his girlfriends (and now wife) then he could ever hope to imagine. Its no secret why women like gay men, we treat them as human, not mere sex puppets.

I generally don’t come out at work and coworkers either figure it out or they don’t. And I never really cared one way or the other.

But one day as the manager of a restaurant the hostess had a reason to stop by my house, as she walked in she said. Oh my God! I didn’t catch the fact that you’re gay. What makes you think I’m Gay? I asked. Oh Paaa..leeeze she replied, there isn’t a straight man in this world that can make a house look this good.

Up to that point I had no idea that taste and style were exclusively gay traits but I’m beginning to find out after all these years that she was right.

Taste and style is something that women understand and are attracted, to but it seems straight men are still left out. Queer eye for the straight guy, makes that piont all too well.

Stupid media… still haven’t gotten the clue that designing a show that pits one group against another or casts people specifically because they do or do not belong to one or the other group is by definition discriminatory and therefore buttheaded, regardless of what demographic trait is the selective factor. Why do we tolerate this?

The idea of gaydar itself is thought-provoking, however. Since I came out (about two years ago), but really before that, too, I’ve learned that I have much better gaydar than I’d have guessed. Vocal inflection and sense of style factor into whether or not someone sets it off, of course, but I think a big part of it is being sensitive to how people interact with you - eye contact, body language, and topics of conversation.

Men are comparatively easy. They tend to have more stereotypical mannerisms, both “straight” and “gay,” than women, but more significantly, straight men, even non-piggish ones, almost invariably make sexual comments about women on a regular basis. Or “I’m a guy, I don’t do/wouldn’t understand XYZ.” It might still be an unfairly broad generalization to use those types of statements, or the absence thereof, as queerness barometers, but in every instance so far when I haven’t heard a man with whom I’ve had an actual conversation beyond “hello” make a sexually suggestive comment about women or use his gender as an excuse as above, I’ve later had my guess that he was probably gay confirmed.

Women, unless they’re very butch, tend to be less obvious, but I can usually still tell, simply because people use different eye contact and body language based on whether they could view you as a potential mate or rival or whether you just look like a human being whose physical self is irrelevant to them. Subtle things, like the tendency to take in a person’s entire body if they’re a gender to whom you’re attracted (even if you aren’t attracted to the individual) instead of just glancing at their face or hands; slightly lingering eye contact, leaning forward instead of away, a shift in pheromones. It comes across as an overall “vibe,” really, which is so vague that it seems too unscientific to trust at all, except that I haven’t had suspicions disconfirmed very often.

Anyway. A slightly gratuitous meander. No reason to forgive the heterosexist media whatsoever, that was the point.

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