Something straight men should know about "gaydar"

In Why is lisping stereotypically associated with homosexuality? Cecil wrote

This explains an experience I had years ago. I was spending time with the step daughter of an army major who had married, I later guessed, so as to appear straight in a homophobic military. At some point I realized he was coming on to me (and I was very slow to do this because the thought that a married soldier might be gay never crossed my mind). And I thought, “Man, don’t you realize I’m straight? I’m trying to get in your step-daughter’s pants!”

Now something he said comes back to me.

“People like you,” by which he meant me specifically, “because you look in them in the eye when speaking to them”

Cecil’s assertion that gay mannerisms and speech patterns may be cultural, belies the fact they exist in young people who aren’t in contact with a gay community and seem to be there even before they come out.

Another thing I’ve found, that many gays don’t even realize they have such mannerisms and no one can tell.

So… did you two do it?

It’s also more than direct eye contact. It’s the eyes following same sex individuals around and looking at their errogenous zones: hair, chest, groin, and butt.

Women can tell instantly that a man is gay when hedoesn’t catch a glimpse of their breasts.


Gaydar 101: In this course, we will treat the subtle vibes and signals that gay people give off to attract mates. We will pay close attention to following the eyes and Wizard of Oz references.

Note to self: be sure to catch a glimpse of all women’s chests. :wink:

monterey86, what mannerisms do you mean by “many gays don’t even realize they have such mannerisms and no one can tell”? The mannerisms most of us are thinking of include swishing the hips, speaking with a soft voice, raising the voice, and acting like a caricature of a woman - preferrably a catty woman. I would think these mannerisms would be obvious to everyone, especially the person exhibiting them.

Except that not all guys are “breast men”. Speaking strictly for myself, I find that my eyes naturally gravitate to an attractive woman’s face and hair, in much the same manner that I imagine other guys’ gravitate towards breasts, legs, or buttocks. Would that make me appear gay to women? And more importantly, is that an advantage or a disadvantage?


Moriah, I think you’re overgeneralizing. Some of us DO have the ability to meet a woman without staring at her chest and drooling. Or looking without making it obvious. (I’m not saying this is common. ;)) Sounds too much like “he’s not attracted to me, so he must be gay.”
I’ve known too many women who’ve dated or wanted to date guys who later ended up being gay, or who turned out to be gay in the first place. Actually, I have one friend for whom this is reaching plague-style proportions. It’s not a matter of one or two obvious signs; this is not a science. Even people who consider themselves experienced and good judges of gay and straight don’t always get it right.
Regarding the cultural thing - stereotypically gay traits are probably somewhat cultural. Why do people who aren’t out or ‘don’t know’ exhibit them? Because many of those traits - the wrist thing, etc. - are ‘culturally’ female. When a guy acts stereotypically effeminate, that’s probably what causes most people to say “he is SO gay.”

Cite? I don’t need no stinkin’ Cite.

I don’t think it’s a lisp, more like that guy Jack’s speech pattern in “Will and Grace”. Haven’t you ever known someone in junior high maybe who seemed awfully gay (by speech & affectation), then later it turned out they were? My point is that if homosexuality itself is genetic, then why not other mental traits, like speech and movement? Also why is the same pattern universally seen in many (if not all) countries?

I’m not saying this is true for all or even most gays or that it’s black and white.

There is a denial factor. Like some people from the South or New York are shocked to discover they have an accent.

I have a friend who’s gay who has hated himself up until now (he’s 31), and he won’t admit that he’s effeminate even though he can’t help liking cheesy musicals and he whines. He’s told me that he hid all his mannerisms so people wouldn’t know…

but he’s so obvious!

Maybe somebody should do some controlled, scientific studies on the mannerisms of gays compared with straights.

Even in a controlled study, I think some of this stuff would be hard to measure. How effeminate someone is is subjective, and I don’t know how you’d rate it. Likewise, lisping is considered kinda gay, but then, some people really have lisps.

A wiser fella than myself once said, “the plural of ‘anecdote’ isn’t 'data”.

I’m not convinced homosexuality is genetic. I don’t think anyone is.

And the study showing that it is is… where?

Well, you could have something like 50 test people rating 50 male test subjects, 25 of which are self-described gays and 25 of which are self-described straights, on factors like effeminity (if that’s a word). If the gays rate higher, then we may be on to something.

Haha, that sounds like a study from the No Shit! Center. :slight_smile:

I think a test like that would still have the same problem: gay men would probably be judged more effeminate than average in general (and gay women less), sure. But all that would really prove is that the people doing the rating perceive things that way. Gay and effeminate (in males) have become somewhat synonymous at this point, which I think complicates things…

Did I forget to mention that the test people obviously don’t know which test subjects are gay and which are straight?

I’ve still never met a gay who lisped. Or seen one on TV or the movies.

No. But I did know a guy in high school who seemed perfectly straight, but who later turned out to be gay. And the only times I’ve ever seen/heard a gay man exhibiting the stereotypical lisp and mannerisms was when one was deliberately making fun of himself.

The problem here is one of confirmation bias. People “prove” to themselves that they can recognize gay men using circular logic. It goes something like this:

“I know that gays have lisps and limp wrists.”
“How do you know this?”
“Well, look at Bob! He lisps and has limp wrists, and he’s gay.”
“How do you know Bob’s gay?”
“Well look at him! Isn’t it obvious?”

Get the idea? But it’s just as likely that Bob is perfectly straight, and Frank, the baritone weight-lifter, is gay.

Please do conduct the study, because I could just say that Chronos is oblivious, and we’d be getting nowhere.

In my frat, there was always a guy we questioned for being gay. Finally he came out Senior year. Another set of friends questioned the 31 yr old before he let on, but the clue of not being involved with anyone at 31 was also a clue. I think I’m less likely to question whether someone is gay or straight, because frankly I don’t care what anyone does as long as everyone consents.

I think I messed up once though. A high school religion teacher had a wife and kids but he had such a sweet, tender voice and manner. We assumed he was gay until he brought pictures of them. Then again, the guidance counselor at the same school decided to marry in spite of his orientation. (and I think that’s why the school had him in that position…a mixed blessing for all the gays who wanted to reconcile their faith and their orientation differently.)

When Alfred Kinsey did his research and interviews for his Sexual Behavior In The Human Male, he and his staff usually found that they could not guess in advance if an interviewee was homosexual. Now, I figure, if those guys, who spent their days asking men about their sex lives, could not reliably tell, where do I get off making guesses about some guy’s private habits?

I don’t buy that stuff about eye contact, either. I grew up shy, and I’ve read many books on building assertiveness, overcoming shyness, and such. They all tell you to seek and maintain eye contact. Any place you look for advice on manners for a young man will tell you not to stare at a woman’s chest. So, if you see a guy who won’t maintain eye contact with a man and can’t look in a lady’s eyes, you’ve found a guy who is ill-mannered and shy. Is he a he-man? You still don’t know.

No, I assumed that would be the case.

Marley23: Then what was the point with this statement of yours: " I think a test like that would still have the same problem: gay men would probably be judged more effeminate than average in general (and gay women less), sure. But all that would really prove is that the people doing the rating perceive things that way. Gay and effeminate (in males) have become somewhat synonymous at this point, which I think complicates things…"

lazybumcus: I suggested a possible study. I haven’t the resources to conduct it.