GRAFTON: A faulty “gaydar” is no cause for shame

By Emme Grafton on October 2nd, 2012

I sat by the pool at a party when a certain guy walked in. We’ll call him Guy (creative, I know, but bear with me). I started to check out Guy, because I have absolutely no shame.

Then another guy entered the room. We’ll call him Dude. Dude walked up to Guy and greeted him with a peck on the cheek. Then the pair of them went and sat on the couch together.

I’ve checked out a gay man three times now, only to find out that I’m definitely not his type! I mentally chastised myself. Damn it.

I’ve had friends ask me why on Earth I’m unable to tell whether a guy’s gay. To me, gay men are nearly indistinguishable from straight guys. Apparently my gaydar is faulty.

There are the stereotypes that gay men dress better, talk in an airy fashion and say things like “fabulous” and “darling.” Gay men are flamboyant. Gay men only love music and clothes and shopping. Finding a straight man in the theater department is like finding a quiet person at a Husker football game.

Based on all of that, people should be able to tell who’s gay and who isn’t gay, right?

If you’re currently cringing at my faulty reasoning, I applaud you. The problem with the argument I just presented is those gay stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. Stereotypes tend to be wrong.

Overall, the stereotypes about gay men (and the LGBTQA community in general, actually) are a misconception. These stereotypes have created the oversimplified opinion that all gay men are the same.

Granted, there are people who fall into those stereotypes. There is nothing wrong with them. I have a gay friend who knows more about color coordination than I do. I have another friend who speaks in the stereotypical “fabulous” way. However, these two examples don’t prove that these are inherent qualities in gay men everywhere.

On the contrary, much like straight men, gay men come in all shapes and sizes.

Ted Allen, one of the stars on the television show “Queer Eye,” described the problem nicely by saying, “Not all gay men are super-stylish. Not all straight men are bad dressers.”

Yet, our society lumps all of the gay men together into one strict category. Society doesn’t do this to straight guys. People speculate on whether a guy’s gay based on his form-fitting T-shirt. Somehow, that’s a strong indicator of a person’s sexual orientation.

Also, you hear phrases like “that’s so gay,” but statements like “that’s so straight” don’t exist. If a straight guy is caught saying “fabulous” in a certain way, then look out everyone, he might be a gay man in disguise! Meanwhile, a gay man can say anything he likes and won’t get accused of being straight.

Mass media confuses the matter further by upholding the faulty stereotypes and then being rewarded for it. The popular television sitcom “Will and Grace” ran for eight seasons. It featured Jack McFarland, a flamboyant and superficial gay man who was a struggling actor.

The movie “Braveheart” won an Oscar for best picture and for best director. Mr. Homophobe – sorry, Mel Gibson – directed that movie. Also, the movie featured Prince Edward, who was depicted as a weak and effeminate homosexual.

Despite the limited progress our society has made, people still seem to think that being gay is an insult. There are people who have accused, mocked and even harmed gay people because of perceived differences.

To those in power, being different equals being bad. I can’t even begin to describe how ridiculous that is. It shouldn’t matter whether there are differences, for one thing.

For another thing, there actually aren’t many differences between the two rigid categories society has created for men. A lot of gay guys talk and act just like straight guys. They go to class. They go to work. They hang out with friends. Hell, a lot of them watch football games.

Believe it or not, gay guys and straight men can look alike. There’s a definite reason why clothing stores aren’t divided into “gay style” and “straight style” sections. There are straight men that care deeply about how their clothes make them look. There are gay men who dress like slobs.

Not everyone adheres to what society has deemed “the norm” for men of a certain sexual orientation.

In fact, gay men have the capacity to do almost anything a straight man does. It’s almost as if the only difference between the two categories is one group falls in love with girls and the other falls in love with guys. Imagine that.

So excuse me if I can’t tell the difference between the two groups. I will continue to check out any guy I please. I just won’t be able to date some of them.

Emme Grafton is a junior English major. Reach her at

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