It has supposedly been our trusty ally for decades. It has been our wingman on countless pursuits in noisy, damp clubs for those menial, one-night trysts we try to forget about in the morning. It has whispered hopeful encouragements to us as we pine over the hot barista swirling enigmatic hearts into our cinnamon latté every morning. But does the ‘Gaydar’ exist?
Yes, the infamous ‘Gaydar’ is well known amongst the LGBT community, and even those outside of it. We’ve all claimed to possess it at one point or another – whether it’s pumping our fist in triumph when Kristen Stewart was finally papped holding hands with her girlfriend, or smugly telling people we ‘just had that feeling’ after our co-worker Ben showed up to the Christmas party with Drew, his long-term partner.
Well, according to this article in New York Magazine entitled The Science of Gaydar – there could be a real, scientific explanation behind the Gaydar.
The article suggests that there is an unmistakeable and immediately recognisable ‘otherness’ to the LGBT community, that we might even make up a third and fourth sex – in other words, that the population of the world can be divided into men, women, lesbians and gay men. Imagine that! If that’s the case, it’s no wonder we can spot one of our own kind from across the dancefloor or wandering down the other side of the street. We’re the same species apparently, it’s a wonder we don’t greet each other barking our own secret language.
Nah, if you ask me, the article makes some good points, but it misses a few key issues. For instance – what about biseuxals? Are they a weird hybrid of two different sexes? Would that make them gender fluid? And for that matter, what about those who don’t identify as either sex? Or transgender folk? Where can they be categorised in this mad new world order? Is there a fifth sex for them? A sixth sex? How many sexes is the limit?!
The science behind the Gaydar is interesting, don’t get me wrong. Richard Lippa, a Professor from California State University – quoted in the article – is studying how anything from the direction your hair whorls on the back of your head to the length of your index finger in comparison to your ring finger can be biological indicators of your homosexuality. That’s groundbreaking stuff.
However, even if I don’t necessarily know how your Gaydar operates, I’m going to hazard a guess that you don’t go peering at the back of some poor bloke’s head to find out if he likes to kiss boys or not.
Whether we pretend we have a sixth sense in the area or not, we all know what our Gaydars really consist of:
Checking for short fingernails and undercuts on the girls – a Tegan and Sara t-shirt will give the game away.
For boys: Looking for the well-dressed ones in tight jeans, with suspiciously perfect hair. If all else fails, checking for the Grindr app on their phone.
So, rumours handed down over generations mixed with some mild, mostly inoffensive stereotypes – that’s your Gaydar.
It would be nice to think science was involved somewhere in the process, and maybe deep down it is. Maybe when you see that short-haired girl at the gym every week you’re subconsciously tuning in to some base biological instinct.
Or maybe you just think she’s hot.
Sauce: Mairead Randall