If you’re straight, you probably think that you have some kind of gaydar, right? That somehow, you’ve been bestowed with this wonderous skill of detecting whether someone is or isn’t cishet.
I’m here to disappoint, you don’t.
It’s not a thing.
Statistically speaking, in a group of your peers, of similar age, there’s around a 20% chance of one of you not identifying as straight. That’s one in 5. If you don’t have anyone in your close friendship circle who is openly out, chances are they are in the ‘closest’ and your gaydar sucks.
The name, gaydar, also suggest you’re looking for someone in particular. What ideas do you have about what it means to be a gay person? How is that then influenced by how you define yourself or straight people in general?
Could it be that you’re just throwing around a word laced with latent homophobia, masked under every watchful stare as someone minces their way to the bar or wears pink clothing?
In saying you have gaydar, you’re ultimately saying that you suspect people of being different – which everyone is – however, this idea that you are actually trying to suss someone’s sexuality or even worse, out them, is ludicrous.
There is no pre-defined archetype of what it means to be gay, or bi or trans etcetera. All that exists are stereotypes. People can play into them, become them – hell, they can aspire to them – but what you can’t do, is probe the intimacy of someone’s orientation.
The gaydar is steeped in heteronormativity and prejudice, it’s a tool of fear – not discovery. It allows straight people to throw around accusations, lord over those that don’t fit their heterosexual definition and alienate them into assimilating into straightness.
You don’t know what a queer person looks like.
They are growing up in the same house as you.
We’re sitting next to you at that board meeting.
Standing opposite you on the train.
Or chatting to you at the bar, trying to figure out if our straightdar has broken because we’re sure you just opened your phone and had Britney Spears as your screen saver, but you just mentioned that you were here with the ‘lads’ and your girlfriend will be joining you later…