The True Nature of Gaydar, Part 2

When I came out in the mid-80s, people were much less open about their sexual orientation than now. Today if I want to know whether someone is gay, I simply ask them. But in those days, you had to first use your learned gaydar skills to determine if it was safe to inquire or even hint at such matters. So if you hoped or suspected that cute woman over there might be a lesbian, what kind of indicators did gaydar scan for? Different gaydar clues were taught and learned by word of mouth from one lez to another, such as:
  • short hair, no makeup
  • short fingernails (an especially important clue, LOL!)
  • a pinky ring (a traditional queer signal)
  • feminist jewelry, like a woman's power symbol or a labrys
  • plain and functional clothes, not lace or ruffles
  • no use of specific gender terms when speaking of her significant other or friends
  • in conversation, diverts attention away from herself to others so awkward questions cannot arise
  • has a cat
None of these factors were determinative in and of themselves but the presence of several might be significant! Oh, the endless hours we spent trying to figure out who might or might not be a lesbian! It seems so silly now.

But of course, in some parts of the world, proficiency in the learned ways of gaydar is still a crucial survival skill.