My Gaydar Doesn’t Work

And why yours shouldn’t either

© Gabbi Wenyi Ayane (2016)

If you grew up in a conservative household like I did, you probably, like me, took ages to gather up the courage to come out to anyone. Heck, you might not even be fully out of the closet at all! So you’ll understand completely that there was a period in my life when I knew I wasn’t heterosexual, but nobody else did.

That was a weird stage of my life precisely because of the friends who would come up to me boasting about their gaydar. They’re the friends who’d whisper conspiratorially, “he’s gay. I can always tell these things.” The irony that none of them ever anticipated my sexuality (despite spending lots of time with me) was never lost on me. And if I’m blunt with you guys, it annoyed me. It still annoys me. Not because no one could guess my sexual orientation, but because nobody should.

We treat gay men like exotic animals. We get excited when we think we’ve met one and we try to come up with reliable phenotypes that define them.

We treat transsexuals like they are constantly involved in some sort of performance art. Every act is analysed and commented on.

We treat bisexuals and pansexuals with wariness. When they’re out of earshot, we wonder whether they secretly have a crush on us. (For the record, the answer is usually no. We might be interested in more than one gender, but we still have standards.)

The list goes on. Every time a straight friend tries to guess someone’s sexuality or boasts about their gaydar, I’m cringing and groaning internally. It doesn’t matter if you’re right. A person’s sexuality is theirs to dictate, not yours to speculate. If they want you to know, they’ll tell you. And if they’re not telling you, there could be a reason why.

It’s not just the fact that people should be in control of their own sexual orientation and sexual expression. It’s also the fact that we need to stop othering those who aren’t straight. It’s objectifying and uncomfortable. How would you feel if you knew people were critiquing your mannerisms behind your back and discussing your sexual and romantic activity when you aren’t around?

Trust me when I say it wouldn’t feel good. Especially if those people happen to be friends and family. Don’t be that straight friend.