It’s not overly often that we in Brighton are able to have genuine beach days and nights. The surprise summer season has finally arrived and it’s baking good. Wandering down to the beach with some friends allowed for some definite people watching. Apparently, the people with bodies to envy like to show it off? Who knew? Taking the time to enjoy the sights, while perhaps hoping for a romantic run-in, my friend decided to ask me:
“Can you always tell if someone is gay or bi or whatever?”
A genuine, innocent question about the gay radar. Some claim to have it, some are certain it’s all myth. While my friend claimed she could never tell, I said that I sometimes get an inkling. It started me thinking about what really was good gaydar and how can you really know? Some don’t know themselves or won’t admit it. I think it boils down to three kinds of gaydar: Assumption, Inherent and Wishful.
The first, and the easiest to use, would be Assumption Gaydar. It’s easy for anyone to conclude that a camp guy must be gay, a woman with a short haircut and a skater look is a lesbian but it doesn’t make it so. But let’s be honest, sometimes it’s true and stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. We’d all like to think we don’t fit into boxes and categories but we do. However, if all you can do is assume then you don’t really have gaydar, you’re just a bit basic.
The second type of gaydar is, I think, the most intelligent and genuine gaydar. It is unexplainable and isn’t presented as gaydar at all. The Inherent Gaydar is the “I just have a feeling…” sense that tells parents, particularly mothers, that they have a LGBT child. The great thing about this kind is it allows parents and family members to understand who an LGBT child will probably be before they even understand what it is. Then if/when they come out they can say “I know” and that helps lower the pressure of the situation. Some people will claim it was little things like ” she preferred to play football” or “he liked to dance around a lot” which made them think this. In the end, and more seriously, this kind of gaydar is possessed mostly by people who use it to help those who need the understanding.
The final, and most trivial, kind of gaydar is Wishful Gaydar. I think we’ve all used this time and again. Usually harmless, it stems from a notion that someone you are attracted to plays for your team. This works for straight people too and normally gets vocalised as “he’s so handsome it’s a shame he’s gay or I would…”. If you’re lucky a game of “I bet he’s really bi and not really straight” will end up with a forward move and a sexy reward, but most often you are just left with your daydreams.
So, whether you’re at the beach, in the pub or at the library remember, you might think they’re gay, you might hope they’re bi but there is only one way to know for sure. Forget gaydar, just ask them!