Pride 2014: Gaydar Is Overrated – Be A Sleuth Instead

Gaydar. You’ve probably heard of it before. Supposedly some people (mostly LGBTQ+, some straight) can intuitively tell if someone is queer.

I don’t believe it’s a real ability, though, for reasons that will be explained shortly. Mostly, I want to talk about other, better ways to tell whether or not someone is queer. Gaydar is too vague and quite often it’s just plain offensive. But I’m getting ahead of myself here…

irene adler questionsssssFirst things first. When you wonder if someone is queer I think you should first ask yourself: “Why do I want to know?”

If you’re queer and have an interest in dating the person and/or assuring them that they are not alone, that you too belong to the LGBTQ+ community, then YAY! Good for you! Go for it, [insert name here]!

If you’re straight, it’s a little different. In my experience ninety-five percent of straight people, even allies, don’t have very good intentions when they want to know if I’m gay. (Note: And they really always do say “gay,” as if the only sexualities were gay and straight. Sigh.) Based on what they do with that information once they have it, I can only assume that they wanted to know so they could A) make fun of someone or B) tell everyone about it.

It’s not like I don’t want people to know. I just want to be the one to tell someone, that’s all. There’s a big difference between coming out to certain people completely of your own will, and coming out via gossip (which usually results in plenty of misinformation).

So. If you’re straight, think long and hard about this. If you want to know someone’s sexual orientation because they’re a family member or close friend, just be patient. They’ll probably come out to you at some point anyway because, well, you’re family. Or a friend.

You can certainly try some of the things mentioned below – they all demonstrate positivity towards the LGBTQ+ community – to show support. That would probably make the possibly-queer person trust you more, which could result in them coming out. Whether it does or does not, have patience.

If you’re straight and just curious and don’t know the person very well, BACK OFF. Sexual orientation is a VERY personal thing to inquire about, so… don’t. Don’t be rude.

So, yeah. This post is written mostly for other LGBTQ+ people. Particularly those who are socially awkward, like myself, and have trouble just saying hello to new people, let alone discreetly inquiring about who someone likes.

Without further ado, here are some things you can do to tell if someone is LGBTQ+. I’ve used some of these. My friends have used others. Oh, and there are two that end disastrously, so I’ll talk about those first.


The thing about stereotypes is that they’re not often accurate. Sure, some people in [insert group] will fit the stereotypes of that group, but others won’t. And some who are not in [insert group] may fit the stereotypes.

I don’t fit the stereotypes of a lesbian. This confused some straight people. (“But you’re too pretty to be gay!”) It confused me a few years ago. (“I don’t dress like a guy, so I guess I’m straight.”)

Basically, I think you’re just as likely – if not even more so – to offend someone by making incorrect assumptions as you are to correctly identify their sexuality. The odds are not in your favor, as Katniss would say.

This is, incidentally, what gaydar relies on. People say it’s intuitive but… no way. Stereotypes aren’t intuitive; they’re learned, and they’re offensive.

andersonSo, stop. Especially stop if you’re one of those straight people who has told me that you have excellent gaydar. Oh, please. I’m standing right next to you and you still think I’m straight. Go away.


This is less offensive than the use of stereotyping, but it’s still pretty weird. First of all, it’s rude, as I mentioned above. This is a situation in which I think it doesn’t really matter if you’re straight or queer – it’s rude all the same.

john watson is an adorable hobbitBut more importantly, asking doesn’t even guarantee that you’ll receive an honest response! A few years ago, when other kids asked if I was gay, I said, “Ha ha ha ha! Me? Gay? Definitely not! Why would you even think that?” I was thirteen years old, terrified to come out, and there was no way I would trust even my friends with that information.


Therefore, the name of the game is to tactfully inquire about sexuality. There are plenty of roundabout ways to ask, to mention things that show LGBTQ+ positivity, to let people know that you’re queer too and that you won’t freak out if they come out to you. So read on!

+ Talk about LGBTQ+ news. This doesn’t even require a newspaper, although I suppose you could certainly have one if you want to seem more nonchalant. Anyway. Just be like, “Did you see that Wisconsin just legalized marriage equality?!” or “Obama’s a cool dude. Have you seen what he wrote about Pride month?”

Also, you’ll sound like a really smart person who actually follows the news. It’s a nice change from sounding like, well, a dork.

+ Carry an LGBTQ+ book or magazine. For all the bookworms who read my blog! Of course you don’t have to do this all the time or even most of the time but if you read a lot and are fond of LGBTQ+ stories anyway, it works perfectly.

People ask me what I’m reading all the time. Saying, “CINDERELLA. BUT PRINCES ARE OVERRATED SO SHE FALLS IN LOVE WITH A GIRL INSTEAD.” is a good way to find out whether they’re queer or maybe an ally.

If they’re jerks about it then I stick my nose back in the book (because there are too many books and too little time so I’m not wasting it on horrible people), but if they’re cool with it then we get to have a conversation about stories! Whee!

Deduce THIS, Sherlock.+ Mention a crush or relationship. OK, this won’t work for straight people. But for queer people, either approach works well.

An example of mentioning a crush: When I geek out about Doctor Who with my friends, the conversation almost always turns from, “Who’s your favorite Doctor?” to “Which Doctor / companion do you think is cute?”

And if I’m talking to girls they’re usually all like, “David Tennant!” and I’m like “MARTHA JONES!”

Unfortunately, Martha is a fictional character. Sigh. Oh, well. Mentioning a real relationship works too: “Yeah, I went to the prom last night and my dress was awesome! And my girlfriend looked super-cute! Well, even cuter than usual, I mean. Obviously.”

+ Wear something to be visible. LGBTQ+ people are not, sadly, literally invisible. Darn. I’d love that superpower.

Anyway. When I talk about visibility, I mean visibility as queer people. Being recognized as queer. Not presumed to be straight. And sometimes what you wear can leave a clue. But I’m not talking about stereotypical styles. I’m talking about smaller things.

For example, I bought this shirt the other day. I got it because A) it’s cute, B) it’s funny, and C) maybe it will make people shut up and stop asking me if I have a boyfriend.

Other examples? Rainbow bracelets. (I want one! Because queer reasons and also I just like to WEAR ALL OF THE COLORFUL THINGS AT ONCE.) Or ace rings. Or… I don’t know, be as creative as you want. I like shiny things, hence the bracelet. But make whatever you want.


Well, I hope that helps. It’s always nice to find other queer people, so go forth and be a detective. The gay is on! I mean… the game is on!


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in LGBTQ+, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Pride 2014: Gaydar Is Overrated – Be A Sleuth Instead

  1. Miriam Joy says:

    I like to think my character gaydar is sharp – but I think it’s probably wishful thinking most of the time. When I’m reading I latch onto potentially queer characters, ha ha. I’m always delighted if they’re explicitly confirmed.

  2. That shirt is hilarious. My family and I got chickens that we kept in our garage and so my friend would always ask how the chicks In our garage were doing.

  3. Bonnie says:

    Nice shirt and face, Engie! (my spellcheck wants me to call you Ernie for some reason but it ain’t happenin’)

  4. Miss Alexandrina says:

    Great post. I don’t have anything really relevant to say except that a) the invisibility comment reminded me of Violet from the Incredibles (her superpower is invisibility, yet she still tries to pretend she doesn’t exist when she’s visible) and b) my trans friend has a few of those rainbow bracelets. They’s so pwetty 🙂
    Also, the Sherlock gif’s grammar bothers me – surely it’s ‘lower the IQ of the entire street’?

    • nevillegirl says:

      Alas, I’ve only seen The Incredibles once (that I’m aware of) and I was but a wee Engie then, so I don’t remember it well. But that’s an interesting comment nonetheless. 🙂


      Perhaps. Although *nudges playfully* you did write “they’s” in your comment, so… 😛

  5. I like this post. A lot. Most because gay pride yay! I do have something to add: You mentioned wearing something to be visible, and one of my friends is planning to learn how to knit, solely so she can knit herself a beanie with rainbow stripes. It promises to be cool.

    Related to the aces’ black ring thing: Some people in the LGBTQ+ community wear jewelry with six rings in the colors of the pride flag. Ex: this necklace and these earrings. I actually have a chain with six rings on it, somewhere…

    And wow that shirt looks awesome I love it.

    • nevillegirl says:

      Eeep, thank you! 😀
      Ooh, that sounds lovely. I want a rainbow beanie!

      Oh god that’s awesome. I need to figure out where I can get one of those necklaces! 🙂

      Thank you. I love it too. 😛 A lot of people complimented it the other day…

  6. Pingback: A Recap Of Pride 2014 | Musings From Neville's Navel

  7. I like that t-shirt, a lot 😛 I’ve always found the use of “gaydar” to be stupid, and daft, and not a word I would ever use, so yes, I like this post too 😀

    It was one of my best friends who asked me if I was bisexual, all the way back on the 31st of December, 2013 – she was slightly drunk, and sat on my lap before announcing that she had something to ask me: was I bi? When I replied yes, she promptly fell off my lap and rolled down the hill – I’m still not sure if the two are related. I wasn’t annoyed at her asking me; it was a bit of a relief really because at the time I don’t think it was something I would have wanted to talk about if they were sober. She said that they had thought I was bi because “sometimes you act really straight, and sometimes you don’t” (I still don’t know what acting straight/not-straight entails, mind), and she was right: it doesn’t matter, either, because out of my group of 4, 3 of us are bisexual. 3 of us – I think we’re like homing pigeons or something, just moving in on each other…

    Now I’m totally cool with telling people I’m bisexual – a couple of friends and I were discussing it on a bus once, and although I’m convinced we made more than a few homophobes on that journey (there was one old woman giving me funny looks), it was nice being able to talk about it without feeling weird about it, and I often find myself referring to it without even realising. My mum was picking me up from work once, and for some reason the passenger seat was really straight, and I found myself about to say to her “huh, this is the straightest I’ve ever been”. I didn’t, because neither of my parents know; I’m not embarrassed to tell them, I just don’t quite know how to come out with it, and at the same time I can’t help but feel that being bisexual is the kind of thing I need to come out about. It’s maybe me just feeling extremely awkward or being odd, but I always worry that people will judge me for coming out – not because I’m bi, but because it’s not “important enough” to justify coming out. Like, I worry I’ll get a response along the lines of “You’re not gay/lesbian, so there’s no real reason for you to come out, bisexual people don’t need to do that.” And that’s probably not a healthy way of thinking, is it?

    …And I did not intend for this to get so long, or turn out as it did, so sorry! But in regards to being visible, one of my friends had knitted a rainbow hat, which she said she’ll give to me and make herself another one, so that’s an exciting thing 😀

    • nevillegirl says:

      (Ack, sorry for responding to this comment so late – I wasn’t ignoring you, I swear! It was just so loooong that I guess I got kind of intimidated and hadn’t yet read it all the way through.)

      Thanks! 🙂

      Um, what? “Acting straight”? *le sigh*
      Yessss yes yes yes. I do think queer people are good at finding one another and… like, accidentally forming friend-group-things long before they ever individually realize that they’re gay? I think maybe we become friends without quite knowing what draws us together, not until we finally figure out our orientations and whatnot. If that made any sense at all.

      Pfffffffft, “this is the straightest I’ve ever been.” That’s great.
      Ugh. I’m not even bi, but I HATE it when people act like bi people are somehow less queer, or don’t need to come out. Bi is not “half straight” (or “half gay”) for that matter.

      Yay for rainbow hats! 😀

What do you think? Share the musings from your navel!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.