Homosexuality and Gay Dar

Homosexuals have existed among heterosexuals since the beginnings of mankind. Yet, they are somehow different and not accepted by the norms of society. They are considered outcasts and shunned upon; even by the churches of today. Despite the progresses that we have made, our abilities to outcast and negatively judge people is still quite dominant and present in our everyday lives. The struggles of homosexuals can be compared to those of the African American people. The fight that they fight today is a fight that African American people fought not too long ago. African Americans had to deal with being different, they had to deal with being outcasts and they had to deal with hate crimes. This makes it more difficult to understand their hateful behaviour towards homosexuals. Of course, they are not the only race to discriminate against homosexuals. In general, humans have a great ability to repeat past mistakes and oppress those they do not understand or find different.

How different are homosexual people from heterosexual people? Can this difference be visibly spotted? People do have a belief that they can spot a homosexual person within a crowd. Now, if someone were to picture the stereotypical homosexual male or female the image is quite distinguishable. When people picture a female who is a lesbian, they usually see a woman with short hair who has very “manly” features. When they picture a gay man, they see a well dressed man with quite feminine features and actions and are generally more emotional.

These stereotypical images and questionable beliefs are what bring about new terms like the word “Gay-Dar”. This term is a play on the word radar. A Radar (Radio Detection and Ranging) system according to the scientific community is: “An instrument for determining the distance and direction to an object by measuring the time needed for radio signals to travel from the instrument to the object and back, and by measuring the angle through which the instrument’s antenna has traveled”.

As most people know, Gay is a term used to describe homosexual persons. The word gay according to the dictionary originally meant: “Showing or characterized by cheerfulness and light-hearted excitement; merry”. However, the words meaning quickly changed when homosexuals began using it as code. They were thought of as clinically ill and were thought only to exist as homosexuals. The word “gay” gave them a smaller word that was an adjective, not a noun. This allowed those who used it to identify people as homosexual in addition to other identities. Some people use it to include bisexuals and lesbians. Now that bisexuals and lesbians are gaining a separate voice, it usually refers only to homosexual men.

The word Gay-Dar thus means to use one’s senses to detect or find a person who is a homosexual or use an intuitive sense that enables one to identify whether another person is gay or not. The word also has a synonym which is “Queer-Meter”. This only aids in the realization that the word is quite popular in order to have a synonym. The word Queer originally just meant strange or out of the ordinary. Today it is attached with a negative connotation referring to persons of homosexual nature. However, Queer-Meter is more popular in the eastern part of the world and not quite so predominant on this side of the world.

Consequently, Gay-Dar is a popular term used in North America by people to describe their inept ability to spot homosexual persons. The word has gained great popularity over the years and is now used quite commonly. The marketing department caught on quickly and decided to use the word to describe their new product, the Gay-Dar Direct. This is a device that homosexuals can carry with them on their key chains.

When another Gay-Dar Direct is within range the two devices will begin to vibrate. This alerts the two parties that a person of similar nature is in the vicinity. Other sites include the word Gay-Dar in their website names and magazines use the name also. These devices, sites and magazines are quite popular amongst the homosexual community. These and other marketing ploys have increased the popularity of the word and spawned games based on the word.

There are several versions of the Gay-Dar game out there, on-line and in stores. The most popular of these games, is an on-line version of “How good is your Gay-Dar”. In this game players attempt to guess the sexual preference of males and females. Depending on the specific game played the number of people to select from and the gender does vary. Some games offer both male and female selections and some offer just one or the other. However, generally a person is shown random pictures of 10 males and 10 females and asked to make a guess on their sexual nature. In these games 50% of the people are actually homosexual. After the player has made all of their guesses they are given a score out of 100%.

Although the homosexual community is aware of the existence of the word Gay-Dar and quite often use it themselves, as is evident from their magazines and websites. The people who most often use the word are homophobic and use the word with a negative connotation. For example “Watch out…My Gay-Dar is going off, telling me there is a fag around here”. Ergo, it is obvious that most people today have heard of the word Gay-Dar, but do they believe they have a Gay-Dar? Or more importantly, do they think they have the ability to use their Gay-Dar to detect homosexual persons? Lastly, is it really possible to use the Gay-Dar to detect homosexual people? These are the questions that this essay will attempt to answer.

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