29 October 2009

Gaydar Fine Tuning

Pretty much all of my friends with whom I have regular contact are aware of my homoness. For many of them, I'm their first really personal contact with anyone with same-sex attraction who isn't a clownishly gay coworker or whatnot, so their learning curve has been steep.

As their first "token gay friend", I have proud little trainer moments when they use a term like "family," "moho," or "twink" casually in conversation as if everyone should know what this word means. OK, actually that's not entirely true: I still feel a bit awkward when my straight friends refer to someone as a "twink". I don't like that word and don't remember teaching anyone what it means, but one or two of my straight friends have used it, to my mild chagrin. It does, however, indicate a certain level of comfort with the topic that is oddly comforting even if simultaneously disconcerting. But I'm digressing: some of the proudest moments are when they successfully identify a gay dude in a crowd or come back from church saying, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure there are a couple of gay dudes in my new ward. You need to come verify them for me." And when they've asked me to offer my opinion, to throw my gaydar readings in the mix, mine often agrees with theirs.

But they're not quite fine-tuned yet. They catch the obvious ones, or the ones who are more "out" or flamboyant. And sometimes, they even catch the subtler guys by a hand movement or the way they talk about wanting a family but never mention looking forward to having a wife...but they're still thrown off by some of the finer points or confounding variables involved when it's a closeted moho who may or may not even have admitted his own mohoness to himself.

For example, I'll meet a guy and get an immediate vibe and suggest we might have "family" here, and they'll say something like, "No, he's definitely not gay. He talks about girls all the time," or "Oh no, he dates girls," or, "He made out with my roommate and I know for a fact he liked it." My response is usually something like a yawn or a slight eye roll, followed by, "Well, he may not be, but I'm sayin' I got blips on my 'dar, that's all." Or I might sometimes challenge them: "OK, so he talks about girls all the time, but has he dated them?" Or, "so he dates girls, but how many girlfriends has he had?" Or, "Listen, I can't tell you how many gay guys I've known who have enjoyed making out with girls here and there but who still prefer making out with guys and who don't fall for girls like they fall for guys..." I'm not trying to be contrary or make the whole world gay. Sometimes, a guy sends signals that confuse my 'dar, and the blip turns out to be nothing, so I have to acknowledge that probability too. I merely try to indicate to people that making out with or being married to a girl is not a sure sign of straightness.

There's a lot told by eye contact, and maybe this is something SSA/gay guys are uniquely equipped to pick up on because we've been there, done that and because there's something that happens between two guys attracted to guys, a sort of subtle, "Are you family? I think you might be family" exchange that happens in an instant, or a lingering eye contact that may either be mildly flirty or "oh no, I've been found out"-y. I'm not sure it can be taught, but I intend to try. Of course, I can't mentor my young 'dar apprentices in the finer points of homo-location until they learn that "made out with a girl" does not equate with "no chance he's gay", so we're taking baby steps, here...


Quinn said...

HAHA I love this post. I wish I had friends like yours.

boskers said...

heh... gaydar. every once in a while a girl might think I'm gay. that's usually a first impression that they get. these are girls that associate introversion with being gay. in my case they happen to be right, but they falsely assume other quiet/soft-spoken straight guys to be gay.

once i get to know these particular girls, i easily convince them that i'm straight. that's done through flirting and being an idiot in a guy-sort-of-way. then they say in a relieved voice, "wow, at first i thought you were gay."

hehehehe... so funny.

It's a lot more difficult to fool a gay person.

Original Mohomie said...

Ha, I got that quite a bit, myself. Some girls thought I was gay because I didn't date girls even though there were options in front of me. Then they'd get to know me, and one day, they'd bust out with, "You know, when I first met you, I thought you might be gay, but now that I've gotten to know you, I can see you you're not gay: you just haven't found the right girl yet and you have high standards," or some such thing. And I would tally up another victory on my Straight-Acting score. Then I'd clinch the deal by talking up Catherine Zeta Jones and Keira Knightley (both of whom I had sincere crushes on), that sort of thing. :-)

Then, after a while, I had a guy friend who was straight but flirtatious for fun, and I went ahead and flirted back, we put our hands on each other's things--LOL, I'm going to leave that little Freudian typo because it cracks me up--we put our hands on each other's THIGHS and spooned and told the girls not to be jealous of our love, and the girls, who were likely perturbed that we were giving each other more affection than either of us gave them, would just say, "Ew. It's a good thing I know you two aren't gay, or I'd be really worried." Mwahaha.

Sean said...

'dar... I love it I'm going to start using that.

Gaydar can be a fickle thing too. I have problems getting a read on guys I'm interested in. That's where I get frustrated.

Ned said...

I'm using my 'dar a lot more these days. If I see stranger I want to say hello to, I tend to say hello, howareyou. But here's where the 'dar come in. If I'm getting a straight reading, my smile and eye contact are more restrained, in fact sometimes with a straight reading I'll just look in their eyes briefly, nod hello, and say "hey, howsitgoin".

But with a gay reading, I'm more gregarious saying "hello" like we've met before and smiling or even laughing like it's so good to seem them again. (Who knows maybe we did know each other in our first estate!) With a gay reading I'll also sometimes just hold the eye contact, or even raise my eyebrows Grouco-style as if to say "Hey, I see you like cigars, too!" Such fun, but then again Matthew Sheperd thought he was among family, too. Maybe I ought to pull back just a bit. What do you think?

I hope this discussion will continue. I'd enjoy hearing how others use, or perhaps misuse, the gift of the 'dar.


MNJ said...

I believe it can be taught to girls or at least honed. I think its an inherent trait they use as they sort out who will be the best at bringing home the bacon - literally. My wife is TOTALLY in tune. Some times it becomes a game between us, to see who picks them out first. We laugh a lot over it. I do have to be careful about how MUCH interest I show when the dar goes off & she's around (okay i'm always careful) to not offend her. One interesting thing however is that we tend to have the same taste. weird I know but it's what works for us.