Category Archives: Sexuality

Chatroom Nostalgia 

On August 1 of this year, the last remaining users of Gay.com received a message informing them the site had changed management and that the iconic online chatrooms would “disappear” and all their data would be erased. Forever.

“All the personal information you provided in your profile, including pictures and stories, will be permanently deleted,” the message explained. “Unfortunately, you will not able to retrieve any of your old information. … The dating website as you know it, will not be coming back.”

It was a sad day for gays of a certain age whose teens and 20s were defined by those chatrooms, back before Grindr was a thing, and many of them lamented over the fact that that chapter of their lives, albeit one they hadn’t visited in over a decade, would be closed forever. I remember well the days of AOL and Gay.com chatrooms. They were known for being able to find instant sex, though I can’t remember ever actually using it for that, but I do remember getting propositioned. Somehow, I was always more successful with Yahoo Messenger. Anyway, good news, guys! The chatrooms have been restored.

“Chat is back!” the newly revamped Gay.com has just announced. “The new chat rooms are now available but we are in the process of testing them. All users who registered their accounts before Monday 26th of September, 2016 have been given sneak-peak access. If you haven’t already created an account, make sure to register now and reserve your username!”

And as for all of you who were sad to learn your previous usernames and profiles had been deleted forever, we’ve got good new for you, as well.

Gay.com says: “In order to help preserve your identity and any relationships that you may have built up in the previous version of Gay.com, we have taken steps to reserve usernames for their previous owners. Register your new account using the same Username and Email combination and the username will be released to you.”

Of course, the question now is: Now that the chatrooms have been restored, will people actually go back to using them? Or have apps like Grindr and Scruff made online chatrooms obsolete?


Transgender Theology

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This is interesting logic, but I’m not convinced that logic, faith, and religion go hand in hand. However, I think she is 100 percent correct when she says, “They shout about God not making mistakes, as if God only works in binaries and anything falling outside of black and white cannot be from him. But we don’t have a black and white God; creation is so full of color and variation that it’s incomprehensible how we Christians struggle to pare him down to the limited palette of our individual expectations.” God created a rainbow of people with a rainbow of personalities and sexualities. There are definitely a few things in the Bible that are black and white, such as in Matthew 22:36-40 (NRSV):

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Jesus is pretty clear with these words and it’s something many Christians forget. On other things he is less clear, but what “Christians” who worry about bathroom access forget is what Paul said in Galatians 3:28 “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis added)

Jesus: The First Transgender Man

Suzanne DeWitt Hall

The current flap in conservative Christian circles about bathroom access is a bit baffling. They shout about God not making mistakes, as if God only works in binaries and anything falling outside of black and white cannot be from him. But we don’t have a black and white God; creation is so full of color and variation that it’s incomprehensible how we Christians struggle to pare him down to the limited palette of our individual expectations.

The worst offenders are the Christian’s who claim to take the Bible literally. Of course they don’t actually do that; they impose their own filters on stories and phrases to fit their particular ideology. If they really did as they claim to do, they would quickly see that Jesus must be, by their own exegetical rules, the first transgender male.

Let’s take a look at what the Bible and Christianity tell us.

The teaching of the church from ancient days through today is that Jesus received his fleshly self from Mary. The church also teaches that Jesus is the new Adam, born of the new Eve.

Now Eve is a fascinating creature for many reasons. The Bible tells us she is the first example of human cloning, which I touched on in this post. But the fun doesn’t stop there. If we take the Genesis account in it’s literal meaning, as conservative Christians demand that we do, she is also the first case of a transgender woman. God reached into Adam, pulled out a bit of rib bone, and grew Eve from that XY DNA into Adam’s companion. She was created genetically male, and yet trans-formed into woman.

Then along comes Jesus and the whole pattern is both repeated and reversed. The first couple’s refusal to cooperate is turned around by Mary’s yes, and the second act of cloning occurs. The Holy Spirit comes upon the second Eve, and the child takes flesh from her and is born. Born of her flesh. Born with XX chromosome pairing. Born genetically female, and yet trans-formed into man.

States that do not support trans persons’ right to choose the restroom that fits their identity demand that bathroom usage be based on a person’s “biological sex.” One can imagine a future in which state licences require not only a vision test, but also a genetic test so that bouncers proofing at bathroom doors have something tangible to review. And that means that if Jesus and Eve were walking around today, perhaps shopping at the mall for a Father’s Day gift, they’d have to swap restrooms. Now Jesus could surely manage to finesse his way around a woman’s room, but poor Eve…

A quick look at the dictionary for the prefix “trans” tells us that it means “across,” “beyond,” “through,” and “changing thoroughly,” all of which are great terms for the person of Christ. He cuts across all boundaries. He is beyond our understanding. He is through all and in all. He changes us thoroughly into new creations.

In his person, and in his salvific actions, Jesus is truly the first and forever trans man.

The man above is bodybuilder and model Ben Melzer went down in history as the first transgender man to appear on the cover of a European men’s fitness magazine.


The Hanky Code

Adult male with back tattoo reading believer.

The Hanky Code is a traditional form of signaling to others what your sexual preferences and interests are. Gay men used this code to communicate with each other in the noisy and distracting environment of gay bars. Although not as widely used these days, it is still a worthwhile resource and is, among those who know, a great conversation starter. Hankies can also be worn around the wrist, ankle, or leg (at the thigh, above the knee), or around the neck with the tie going either right or left. Other objects such as keys, key chains, watch fobs, or even handcuffs can also be used to let people know if you’re a “top” or “bottom.” If worn in the back on the center belt loop, it translates as “versatile.”

The wearing of various colored bandanas around the neck was common in the mid- and late-nineteenth century among cowboys, steam railroad engineers, and miners in the Western United States. It is thought that the wearing of bandanas by gay men originated in San Francisco after the Gold Rush, when, because of a shortage of women, men dancing with each other in square dances developed a code wherein the man wearing the blue bandana took the male part in the square dance, and the man wearing the red bandana took the female part (these bandanas were usually worn around the arm or hanging from the belt or in the back pocket of one’s jeans). It is thought that the modern hanky code started in New York City when a Village Voice journalist is credited with the birth of the modern hanky code in 1970, jokingly suggesting that instead of wearing keys to indicate whether someone was a top or a bottom, it would be more effective to announce a particular sexual desire by wearing different colored hankies in their back pockets. There were only a few colors suggested—red, navy, light blue, green and black—because that was all that Levi’s produced at the time.
Today, wearing color-coded handkerchiefs (bandanas) is the manner in which communication of desires and fetishes is achieved. Wearing a handkerchief on the left side of the body typically indicates one is a “top” (one considered active in the practice of the fetish indicated by the color of the handkerchief), while wearing it on the right side of the body would indicate one is a “bottom” (one considered passive in the practice of the fetish indicated by the color of the handkerchief). This left-right reality is taken from the earlier practice of tops wearing their keys on the left belt loop and bottoms on the right to indicate being a member of the leather subculture. Bandanas might be worn in the front or back pocket, tied around the neck (with the knot positioned on either the left or right side); around the ankle (when wearing boots or when undressed); or on other parts of the body.

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Fetishes

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Fetishes. Most of us have them. A fetish is defined as a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc. Yesterday, I had five ways to embrace and enjoy your fetish. Today, I’m going to talk about my fetishes and see if they meet the test. I have a few major fetishes: Leather, Underwear and Uniforms.

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Sexual self-discovery is a mysterious process, the only aspect of growing up that parents and teachers mostly leave children (if they’re lucky) to sort out on their own. The word groping works here. It’s you in the dark at first, maybe with props or pictures, and eventually with other humans, discovering over time—sometimes over a very long time—what gets you off, what turns you on. But how is it that you, being you, like this, not that? Why men, not women; why leather, not rubber; why briefs and boxers, not boxer briefs; why military uniforms, not domestic uniforms?

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I love the smell of leather. I love the feel of leather. Why? I’m not sure, but that’s all I’m going to say on that subject. The same is true of underwear. I love seeing beautiful men in underwear, and I love wearing sexy underwear. While I like boxers and I won’t say that I hate boxer briefs, I do love briefs, sexy little briefs. However, I am not a fan of thongs, in fact I hate them.  They look and feel uncomfortable.  I do like jock straps though. If you are going wear underwear that shows off your assets, let them be framed like the work of art they are and not split into by a string. My fetish for underwear started when I was in middle school. It probably started with seeing guys in their underwear in the locker room or it could have been those fitness magazines which always showed guys in briefs.

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As for uniforms, I love a military uniform.  Not really BDUs (battle dress uniforms, i.e. fatigues/camo)  but dress uniforms. I love a man in dress uniform. I remember the first time I saw the uniforms of World War I, I fell in love.  The high collar, the Sam Browne belt, the high boots, and riding pants, what’s not to love?  The dress blues/greys (its according to which school) of military cadets is out of this world. The uniforms themselves are so beautiful, but the young men in them are just as beautiful. The same is true of civilians in tuxedos. A tux can make even the most ordinary of men look extraordinary. The same is true of dress uniforms. BDUs can look sexy on some men, but dress uniforms look sexy on all men.

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So there are my fetishes.  What are yours? Don’t be shy either.


Five Ways To Embrace & Enjoy Your Kinky Fetish

A fetish might be the shiny black leather boots the man at the grocery store has on, or the white cotton jockstraps you see at the gym, or the way you murmur “Daddy…”when your horned up partner is having his way with you. But where did we get our kinks, and do they represent something… bad?
Therapist and author David Fawcett (Lust, Men, and Meth: A Gay Man’s Guide to Sex and Recovery) thinks our kinky side is actually good for us, he came up with some juicy insights into our naughty obsessions.
“A fetish is not a disorder at all, unless it causes personal distress or is harmful to others,” David told Queerty’s Mark King. So if you’ve been transfixed by the uniform worn by the hot Castro cop, relax. “The most common fetish is a body part, like feet. Second would be objects such as clothing, and finally, a fetish can be a behavior, like a role play fantasy.”
David provided us these five helpful things to know about your kinky fetish:
 
1. Assess your fetish to be sure it is a healthy one
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David is supportive of our kinky sides. “Think of your fetish as something that ‘adds value’ to your sexuality,” he says. “By far, most fetishes are perfectly normal. Our own shame about having one is usually the most unhealthy thing about it. If it is a fantasy of some sort, remember this: the vast majority of people are clear about the difference between fantasy and reality.”
But why on earth do white briefs drive you wild, you ask? “Why we develop a fetish is largely unknown,” David says, “but they are most often in place during childhood. They pair our earliest sexual arousal with a non-sexual object – the cute boy you saw in the locker room was wearing white briefs, for instance. Importantly, though, a fetish can also result from trauma or a strong emotional experience.”
If you’re concerned, ask yourself if your fetish is emotionally or physically harmful to yourself or to your partner. And David asks that you give something else some thought. “Is indulging your fetish ‘re-wounding’ you somehow? Is it linked to something that should be allowed to heal, and you’re keeping it fresh, and harmful?” If the answer is yes or you’re not certain, you might want to consider talking it through with a professional.
And by all means, if the fetish involves sex that puts you or your partner at risk for HIV transmission, then check out PrEP if you’re negative, or learn why positive guys with an undetectable viral load are not infecting their partners.
 
2. Reveal your fetish to your partner thoughtfully
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Sure, telling your date or your husband that his leather boots are hot is easy. Getting him to wear a pair during sex might be a little trickier. The key is being prepared.
“Most couples don’t have great communication skills about sex, and that includes gay men,” says the expert. “So be sure you are comfortable discussing sex in the first place. You might want to just describe why the fetish gives you pleasure, without any expectations that your partner will join in. And it is important that you discuss it as something that is intimate, not a source of shame or some kind of awful confession.”
Once you’ve had the Big Reveal, give your partner time to process it. You can always circle back to it later.
 
3. You fetish probably isn’t going anywhere
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“A fetish is part of your sexual template that probably won’t go away,” says David. “Even if we try to repress them, they tend to re-emerge.”
So, someone in a relationship that has a fetish might want to do their best to incorporate it, advises David. That means ground rules, respect for limits, and managing the complicated balance between loving and respecting your partner while honoring your own needs. “Communication is the key, of course,” David says. “And it is also true that sometimes couples are just incompatible.”
 
4. Be sure you don’t need drugs or alcohol to enjoy your fetish
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The more dangerous your fetish might potentially be, the greater the importance of having a clear head. Obviously, this applies to domination and submission scenes or anything involving being at the physical mercy of your partner. “Always incorporate consent and respect,” advises our expert. “And you can’t give your consent if you are under the influence.”
David firmly believes that some fetishes are the result of drug use and may not even be organic to the individual. “These kind of drug-driven behaviors do not increase intimacy,” he says. “They are actually destructive.”
“If a fetish is keeping someone stuck in self-destructive behaviors like drug addiction, this suggests a level of shame that needs to be addressed in therapy,” David says.
 
5. Men love to grab that brass (nipple) ring
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Fetishes are a guy thing. “95% of people with a fetish are male,” David tells us. “Straight men fetishize feminine things, gay men fetishize masculine things. They are the objects that represent those we desire.” Of course many gay men love feminine things, too.
So embrace all that you are, men. Keep communication open, play it safe, and get on with your kinky selves. “By far, most fetishes enhance healthy sexuality,” David adds. “So have fun!”

What’s Your “Number”?

  
We aren’t talking telephone number either. Can anything good come from telling your partner(s) how many people you’ve slept with before you met them? Many people would say, “no way.” The very idea of revealing that number can be terrifying because they’re afraid that they’ll be judged for having had too many intimate encounters — or too few — and they worry that the information could harm their relationship. It’s also probably not a good answer when you say, “Um, I lost count. The orgy in Italy threw my numbers off a bit.” Yeah, not a good answer, but some of us were sluts when we were younger, had more hair, and were better looking.

“[What happens when you reveal your number] depends on what are the attitudes and values of the people involved and what their reactions are going to be,” Dr. Zhana Vrangalova , a sex expert and professor at New York University, told the co-hosts of HuffPost Love+Sex Podcast, Carina Kolodny and Noah Michelson . “My husband has actually had that experience with a couple of his friends and girlfriends. They would share the number and he would be so accepting of whatever the number was that they walked away thinking, Oh my God — I’m not this dirty slut that everyone has been telling me I was. So if you have a positive reaction to that, or your partner has a positive reaction to that, it can be a really empowering and really anti-slut shaming that I think a lot of [people] could benefit from it.”

To hear more about what can happen when you share “your number,” as well as questions about everything from the above question about “numbers” to “what should I do if I only want to date ‘daddies’ and they all think I’m too young for them,” listen to the podcast go to iTunes to download it.


Two Interesting Studies

  

How Do You Feel About Your Nether Regions?

A new study found that regardless of sexual orientation, people who either feel good about their genitals look or are not self-conscious about them are more likely to have good sexual self-esteem and feel sexually attractive. The study examined the relationship between perceptions of genital appearance and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. The study sample included men and women aged 18-45 who identified as heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or bisexual. Participants responded to an online survey assessing their self-perceived sexual attractiveness, genital self-image, genital self-consciousness during sexual activity, and sexual esteem. Based on previous findings, the study hypothesized a positive link between genital self-perceptions and self-perceived sexual attractiveness, with sexual esteem acting as a mediator. Analyses revealed a significant association between both genital self-image and genital self-consciousness and self-perceived sexual attractiveness. However, these relationships were at least partially mediated by sexual esteem, across both gender and sexual orientation. The findings suggest that, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, individuals who maintain a positive genital self-image or lack genital self-consciousness, are more likely to experience greater sexual esteem, and in turn, feel more sexually attractive. The findings have implications for the importance of genital appearance perceptions and improving individuals’ sexual esteem and self-perceived sexual attractiveness.

Freud would agree. I think that when someone is confident in the way their genitals look, then they are overall more confident and have greater self-esteem. The same i believe is true of people who are happy with their body image. It gives the person more confidence and self-esteem. The problem is that for some of these people who are happy with their bodies become overly conceited and obnoxious to deal with overall.
Science: Gay Dudes Like Muscly Hunks

Yeah, this is real: researchers recently counted and analyzed the photos and comments posted on Queerty.com, a blog mostly for gay men. The overwhelming majority of pics and comments celebrated hunky, muscly men with basically zero body fat. The downside: not critiquing these images might be reinforcing an unhealthy body image among blog visitors. This study conducted a content analysis of 243 photographic images of men published on the gay male-oriented blog Queerty.com. The study also analyzed 435 user-generated comments from a randomly selected one-year sample. Focusing on images’ body types, the study found that the range of body types featured on the blog was quite narrow-the vast majority of images had very low levels of body fat and very high levels of muscularity. Users’ body image-related comments typically endorsed and celebrated images; critiques of images were comparatively rare. 

First of all, Queerty is the worst place on the net to read comments. Their commenters tend to be the bitterest queens on the planet. However, if you look at this from an evolutionary standpoint, those with less body fat and nice musculature look healthier, meaning that our minds perceive them to be people who will live longer. Attraction often has to do with having a male partner who will love a long time. When it comes to women, heterosexual men tend to find a woman with large breasts and nice hips to be seen as more fertile, just as healthy men are seen as more virile. So when we look at what we find attractive, it comes down to who the evolution of the human species will take the best care of us and who will be the best at procreation. While this may seem to exclude homosexuals, it does not. We still want virility. Whatever sex we are attracted to, we still have the evolutionary genes that tell us the same things about the same sex we are attracted to as it does when opposite sexes are attracted.


Offensive, Deplorable, Insensitive, Cruel, and Insulting

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Last night I was watching the World Series (I’m rooting for the Royals). I just couldn’t handle watching the Republican debate. I find all of the candidates offensive, but I didn’t expect to be offended during the World Series. However, a DIRECTV advertisement with Peyton Manning came on. I’ve seen it before, and its incredible offensiveness and makes my blood boil every time is see it. I never have particularly liked Peyton Manning, but even if I had been a huge fan of his, this commercial would have made me hate him with a passion. Before I say more, I’m going to let you read what the commercial says (I could have posted a YouTube video of the commercial, but I find it too offensive to post):

Hi I’m Peyton Manning and I have DIRECTV.

And I’m really high voice Peyton Manning and I have cable.

Only DIRECTV lets you watch NFL Sunday Ticket games live on all your devices.

With cable I can’t do that it’s like – ahhhhhhh! [high-pitched]

I get to take all the games with me.

I sing with the Four Tunesmen.

Camptown ladies sing a song
Doo dah, doo Dah
Camptown racetrack five miles long
Oh the doo dah day

Don’t be like this me get NFL SUNDAY TICKET only on DIRECTV.

To understand why I find this really offensive, I have to tell you something about myself that I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on this blog before: I have a high voice. My voice is the stereotypical “gay voice.” I get mistaken for a woman on the phone and at drive-thru restaurants. All of my life, bullies have imitated my voice as a way to call me a faggot, usually while using the word fag or faggot and limp wrist hand gestures along with it. My voice has been an embarrassment to me all my life, but I am learning to accept it. It does help that with my new job, my voice plays a major component in said job. However, every time I see this commercial, it brings up all the bullying I faced in my life, and I’m not just talking about my teenage years but my adult life too. It still happens. Imagine calling your bank to straighten out an issue that has to be done over the phone and the person you are speaking with refuses to believe you are who you say you are. They thought by your name you were a man, but when they speak to you they are sure you are female and cannot be convinced otherwise. So they try every security question they can think of and after you answer all of them promptly and correctly, they reluctantly agree to speak with you, but remain skeptical you are who you say you are.

So when I see this commercial and I hear, “And I’m really high voice Peyton Manning and I have cable,” what I really hear is “And I’m faggot Peyton Manning and I have cable.” I don’t know how many of you watch NBC’s The Voice, but this season there is a male contestant named Jordan. He also has a high voice and during the blind auditions, everyone turned around and was shocked that he was a guy. Then they all said, especially Adam Levine, how important a contestant he was because he was so brave. I admire Jordan immensely for having the courage to stand up there knowing the judges would turn around and be shocked that he was a guy. I couldn’t have done it. Sadly, I don’t think he will make it far when America begins to vote because guys with high/effeminate/”gay” voices are discriminated against everyday. We constantly have our manhood questioned because we don’t have a deep voice. We are constantly discriminated because of it. We are made fun of by athletes and bullies, and now even on a national television commercial.
I find this commercial to be one of the most offensive, deplorable, insensitive, cruel, and insulting commercial that I have ever seen. DIRECTV has been called out before on these types of commercials, but they continue to make more of them. Who else will they be allowed to insult before they stop using these commercials? I find this one even worse because without saying it directly, it hits on two major stereotypes of gay men: that we have “gay voices” and we don’t like sports. After all, this is a commercial about NFL Sunday Ticket on DIRECTV. This commercial invites ridicule for those men who don’t have deep voices. DIRECTV should be ashamed of themselves for such a blatantly homophobic commercial. The sad thing is, I doubt DIRECTV nor Peyton Manning realize just how hurtful and insensitive this commercial is. They merely think it’s funny. There is nothing funny about condoning bullying and homophobia, directly or indirectly.


Man’s Best Friend 

  

I saw this on Wicked Gay Blog (one of my favorite blogs, so much interesting stuff) and had to share it. You can read it at the source at: http://www.wickedgayblog.com/2015/10/mans-best-friend-is-his-penis.html or you can read it below. I found it kind of interesting.

Man’s Best Friend

By Lawrence Pfeil, Jr.

Whoever called the dog, “man’s best friend” obviously never had a penis (aka dick, cock, pecker, wiener, joystick, schlong, man meat, tally whacker, John Thomas, and/or Schwanzstucker) because men embrace theirs from the get-go. Ultrasounds have shown male fetuses in the last trimester with in utero erections and tiny hands clutching on. By the time “the boys” drop around age 12 or 13 and the package is complete; and the once friendship has grown into a lifetime obsession filled with prowess and pride, comparisons, and above all pleasure. 

But what do we really know about every man’s penile pal? 

Let’s start at the beginning, which usually depends on your perspective i.e., if it’s your tool or someone else’s, but in this case the word itself. Penis, typically referring to the shaft, is Latin for “tail,” while testes (aka nads, balls, plumbs, rocks, and/or bollox) share the Latin root for “witness” which according to Dr. Steven Lamm, MD’s book. The Hardness Factor comes from the Roman law practice of a man holding his junk while “testifying” in court. (Or possibly it was just a way of distracting opposing counsel millennia before “Basic Instinct,” but the jury is still out.) 

Dr. Lamm also cites the men of Australia’s Walibri tribe who greet each other, by shaking Johnsons instead of hands. Apparently it’s not just gay men in America who enjoy this custom. Men the world over, whether ancient or modern, developed or primitive, all value taking matters into their own hands. 

As for the actual nuts and bolt, everyone “says” size isn’t important, unless of course you’re walking around naked in the locker room at the gym. FYI… gymnasium comes from the Greek word “gymnazo” meaning “to exercise naked” (yet another reason to go Greek). 

For most men, their left gonad hangs lower than the other. But in approximately 10% of men, the right one hangs lower, because they’re left-handed. Seriously, it’s a proven fact. But do the research, and if they’re wrong, it won’t be a waste of time finding out. 

It has been said, “God’s only design flaw in man is that He gave him two heads but only enough blood to use one or the other, but not both at the same time.” It’s hard to argue with that. Considering the average erection only requires about two to three tablespoons of blood, it doesn’t say much for the brain activity of most men when it’s channeled to the other head either. 

As for length, width, girth, circumference, cut/uncut, ethnic stereotypes, and grow-ers vs show-ers, no study, statistics, or evidence is going to change the perceptions and preferences of anyone. He’s your best friend who has been with you since the beginning and will be with you till the end. Who else can you say that about? So like anyone with you through thick and thin, you love him for his strengths as well as whatever his shortcomings may be because he is yours. 


Gaydar

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I saw this on HuffPost Gay Voices and found it pretty interesting.

Is Gaydar Real?
By Rebecca Adams

Academic studies can be fascinating… and totally confusing. So we decided to strip away all of the scientific jargon and break them down for you.

The Background

Whether or not “gaydar” — a supposed intuitive ability to identify gay people — is real, many people believe it’s possible to tell someone’s sexual orientation just by looking at them. The problem is, research (and anecdotal evidence) has found that gaydar tends to rely on stereotypical attributes — like the way someone dresses or how they style their hair — that don’t actually tell you anything about who someone’s attracted to. Gaydar, therefore, seems to legitimize these stereotypical myths, something that’s been shown to lead to prejudice and oppression. Unlike other forms of stereotypes, however, gaydar has seeped it’s way into popular culture, and it’s considered relatively harmless and socially acceptable.

In a new five-part study, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison set out to see if what they refer to as “the gaydar myth” is as “harmless” as some people may think or if it’s just a veiled method of perpetuating gay stereotypes.

The Setup

In the first study, participants looked at pictures of 55 gay men and 50 straight men’s faces selected from an online dating site. Each photo was rated for overall quality, from “very poor” to “excellent,” by a set of student raters before the study. Then, the researchers randomly paired the photos with a supposed descriptive statement about the person that was either gay-stereotypic (“He likes shopping.”), stereotype-neutral (“He likes to read.”) or straight-stereotypic (“He likes football.”). These weren’t actually applicable to the men in the photos, but participants didn’t know that. They were then instructed to determine whether or not the man in the photo was gay. For the second study, the researchers repeated the first study, but this time they only chose photos that were rated highest in quality from both the straight and gay men groups of photos.

Both the first and second studies found that when participants were given stereotypically gay personal statements with photos, they were much more likely to guess that the man in the photo was gay. Meaning: The pictures didn’t matter nearly as much as the stereotypes did.

The third study had participants categorize the same gay and straight men’s pictures without the accompanying stereotypic statements. The researchers found that people were more likely to assume men in higher quality photos were gay — they seemingly assumed gay men would take better photos. The fourth study replicated the third with women’s photos instead of men’s to see if the same was true for lesbians. Participants were unable to gauge sexual orientation simply by looking at a person’s face.

Finally, the researchers did their fifth study to determine whether or not gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth for these stereotypes. They gathered 233 undergraduate participants and divided them into three groups: one that would be told that gaydar is stereotyping, one that would be told that gaydar is real and one that would be given no information regarding gaydar. Participants then completed a modified version of the first study, using the same pictures and statements. This time, however, participants could refrain from guessing the person’s sexual orientation if they wanted.

The Findings

In the final study, participants’ answers depended on which group they were in. Those in the “gaydar is real” group tended to believe in gaydar more than the other groups, and people in the “gaydar is stereotyping” group believed in it less than the control group. In this final version of the study, it was easy to see that people didn’t assign sexual orientation simply because they were forced to choose — participants had a “no idea” option, yet they chose it “very infrequently,” according to the study.

As the researchers put it: “The evidence provided in Study 5 indicates that the folk concept of gaydar serves as a legitimizing myth, promoting stereotyping to infer orientation by giving that stereotyping process the alternate label of ‘gaydar.'” Basically, when people slap on a euphemism for stereotyping — in this case, “gaydar” — they feel free to judge groups of people by very limited parameters which legitimize societal myths. These findings build on past research about how stereotypes that seem plausible will likely lead to inaccurate assumptions.

The Takeaway

Taken at face value, the concept of gaydar may not seem like such a big deal, but there’s one big problem with stereotyping: It often leads to inaccurate conclusions. The researchers put it in terms of the “gay men like shopping” trope. If people assume gay men like shopping, that doesn’t mean that all men who like shopping are gay (or that all gay men like shopping). Not to mention, if gay men make up 1.8 percent of the male population in America, even if they’re ten times more likely to enjoy shopping, men who like shopping are still more likely to be straight — there are simply more men who identify as straight out there.

Perhaps the researchers put it best: “Whether people fit or violate their group’s stereotypes is immaterial to their value — we would hope that, rather than being judged or pressured based on the existence of a stereotype, people can be treated as individuals and judged on their own merit.” Amen.

The Closet Professor’s Conclusion

It seems to me that the study has two major flaws. First, it assumes that gaydar is purely visual and can be determined by a picture of a face. When my “gaydar” goes off, it’s more than just a picture of a face. It has to do with how he moves, how he talks, and basically, how he carries himself. The most sure fire way is to watch his eyes. If a hot guy walks by and his eyes follow, then he is probably gay, but if a hot girl walks by and his eyes follow her, then he is probably straight. You have to watch the eyes though, because head movements can be misleading, especially for someone in the closet.

Second, the study assumes that gaydar is something that heterosexual men possess. While I do think that some women possess gaydar, most straight men do not. Heterosexual men often use all kinds of bad stereotypes to identify gay men; however, gay men and some women use more subtle stereotypes to identify gay men. I do not dispute that a large part of gaydar is stereotyping, but I think gay men tend to be more careful with stereotyping and are more intuitive. Many gay men were stereotyped before they came out, so they aren’t as quick to judge others unfairly. That being said, I will postulate that wishful thinking does occasionally interferes with gaydar.

Finally, I think gaydar is possibly an evolutionary characteristic. Gay men have always existed, but we had to find one another. Historically, if a gay man hit on the wrong man, i.e. a straight man, then he might not survive the attempt. Therefore, I think along with the genetic code that makes us gay, we also have the ability to find one another. Then again, gaydar could be a complete myth built on stereotypes, but I think it is very real, some people just have better gaydar than others. I tend to think mine is pretty good.


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