Do You Have a Gay Face?

So, I just read a New York Times article on “gaydar.”  Gaydar is basically the ability to tell if a person is gay just by looking at them.  The experiment was conducted by showing people rapid fire, facial images of both men and women, straight and gay.  The faces were photoshopped of haircuts, tattoos, and piercings.  Basically, you saw a series I’ve bald heads, I’m assuming.


The overall consensus of the experiment was that yes, gaydar exists.  We can tell, by looking, whether or not a person is gay.  The accuracy is not high, it’s like 60% or something, but apparently that’s enough to say – yes, indeed, we can.


I don’t know why, but this bothers me a touch.  There’s something about it that’s a bit Nazi-seeming.  I mean wasn’t there a whole, “let me look at your skull to see if you’re a Jew” sort of thing?  And never mind, the incredibly offensive things done and said to black people the world over regarding facial features and skull shape.


Now, it’s the gays turn to get the once over.


However, the study says “gaydar” is a good thing because if the standard argument is “don’t ask, don’t tell” – in other words, let gay people stay in the closet, let them keep their private lives private, and then there is no discrimination…if that’s the argument then a “gaydar is true” scenario blows it out of the water.  If you can tell a person is gay by looking at their face, then there is no hiding it, much like a person can’t hide their skin color.


Again, I’m not so sure about this.  I mean, what types of gays did they use for these pictures?  For example, were the face photographs mainly made up of what I call, “100 footers”?


A “100 footer” to me, is a person who you can tell is gay from 100 feet away.


This would be a male 100 footer.


You would think a “scissor sister” would indicate a gay woman, but in this context it is a wonderfully gifted, gay, man.


This would be a female one.


Somehow this nude shot doesn’t even seem nude to me… strange.


I’m not making fun of effeminate men and butch women here.  I, sincerely, believe that the gay movement is made up of ALL types and ALL types who should be treated equally, not just gay people who “pass” as straight.  But, I am wondering if you could tell simply by looking at the facial features of a non-100 footer whether or not they were gay.  I’m not so sure.  I think the water gets murky because SEXUALITY IS MURKY even for people at the extreme poles of the spectrum.


The study then gets into this type of language and I’m totally paraphrasing:


“Facial spaceology and distance between features can help determine whether or not a person is gay.  As well as effeminate features for men and masculine features for women.”


Basically, do you have a gay face?


I don’t know if I have a gay face.  I do know that I have a gay vag.  At times the vag has been gayer then others.  Honestly, I think that’s the only thing that matters…who are you going to partner your parts up with?  This is pretty much the end game.


But, let’s say you want to sharpen your gaydar.  Are there exercises you can do?


I say, yes.


1.  Try picturing the straightest man you can summon.  Now, try picturing him eating an extremely large chorizo sub while wearing hot shorts on a gay pride float.  Doesn’t really match up?  Okay, picture him on the couch in front of the TV angrily ordering a chicken pot pie from a lady figure.  Better?  Okay, great, now we’ve got our stereotypes in line.


2.  Try picturing a woman.  The most pious woman you can imagine.  Maybe a nun.  Nope, scratch that – too gay.  Try picturing Michelle Duggar.  Now picture a woman channeling a tunnel under her hospital room in the maternity ward.  Just as she’s about to deliver, this rogue woman punches a whole through the gurney and pops up between Duggar’s stirrups.  “Psssst, there’s another way,” she whispers.  The tunnel-lady tugs on  Duggar’s ankle until she lips into the underground safe-house.  There tunnel-lady makes her pies and applies ointment to Duggar’s very exhausted labia.  Tori Amos gently croons in the background.  See, any woman can become gay with the right recruitment…


Wait, maybe that didn’t really sharpen your gaydar.  I think it only made things more cloudy.  Let’s try this.  I’ve put together different gay-face collages.  Please study them.


Totally gay face… must be the beard and the bob haircut…

Another gay face. I’d say it’s the angular chin and the lady eyes…

This face is gay because it’s clearly judging you…

This one is gay because it’s so feckin’ wonderfully artsy and it’s clearly David Beckham in drag…


Wonderful, now that we’ve all had the strings of our gaydar finely re-tuned, I say go out into the world and give it a try.  Pick a human.  Walk up to them, shake their hand, and gently say, “Gay?”  If the person asks you out for a drink, you are correct.  If they punch you in your gay/ straight face, you might’ve been wrong.  If they laugh, you’ve met a person you just might want to know, regardless of who they sleep with.


That’s my end game.  Momma is out.  (In more ways than one.)



Sweet Mother is updated daily.  If you’d like to follow this blog, hit the ‘follow’ button at the top of the page.



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Photo credits:  butch woman, gay-man, beard-face, jaw-face, tongue-face, david-face

NYTimes Gaydar Article

52 thoughts on “Do You Have a Gay Face?

  1. Momma – I’m very sorry to read that once again people are advocating and attempting to justify ignorance and stereotyping. I think gaydar is bullshit. When you can “tell” someone is gay, it usually because they are broadcasting stereotypes and want you to know.

    I’ve known many gay people in my life (that phrase sucks because it makes you seem so separate from the rest of us straights, when who really gives a fuck), but my favorite gay man was black, 6’2″ tall, looked like a pro football player, was gorgeous, and dressed in sweats, T-shirts and sneakers exclusively. You certainly didn’t know by looking and until he admitted it to me directly, I didn’t know.

    Gaydar is bullshit. It’s not hard to “read” someone who is broadcasting.

    Love to you and the wifesy both!


    1. i hear you, gills. i don’t know what the feck i think about this study tho, other than i think it’s interesting. and i think the guy that conducted it is gay. or at least my ‘gaydar’ says he’s gay. lol. so, i don’t think he has a negative agenda. in the end tho, who in the feck cares. am i right? i’m here all year…says my comedian side. much love, sm

  2. Did they factor in whether you felt attracted to the person, and therefore hoping they bat for your team? As in Sweet Mother might think: “Oooh, that gal is hot! Here’s hoping she and her vagina are gay.”

    Also, who was doing the looking? Closet cases? Other gays? Fag hags who still hope they can turn a gay they love straight? Straights that have never (knowingly) met a gay person? Gays that only hang with other gays?

    “Flawed science!” I says!!

    1. i am the worst gay in that sense. i almost NEVER think another woman is hot. it’s more of an energy thing for me. and yes, i just said that. i’m so with you, so many variables to this study. i like that it was done because there’s something fascinating about it, but i’m not sure it determines anything at all to be honest… xo, sm

  3. So what does the gaydar say about MY face ?
    Seriously though, I think Gillian has it covered with the broadcasting stereotypes and wanting you to know angle.
    Great collages, although I can’t agree with you about David Schwarzenegger… :S

    1. ha, ha, david schwarzenegger….loved! okay, mee, i get that he’s hot. i have eyes, BUT HE’S WEARING A DRESS!!! you’ve gotta give it to me there…gaydar or no gaydar…or is it an eddie izzard sort of thing? xo, sm

  4. Gay face? hmm… it does sound offensive a bit…
    i dont think you can really tell whether a person is gay or not by looking at them, unless that person is really in mood to project the whole ‘am gay, deal with it’ outfit…

    Dear gaydar scientist who has come up with this theory,
    i dont think i have a gay face…nope…i guess it does kills your gaydar theory …better luck next time…

    Sweet Mom i wish people had no time for such crazy theories…

    1. eh, the study doesn’t really bother me. i just think it doesn’t really prove much. and i think it was interesting that it was conducted at all AND that the ny times actually covered it. aside from that, i have little emotion about it either way. i love your ‘i’m gay, deal with it’ outfit thought tho. hilarious! xo, sm

  5. “Try picturing a woman. The most pious woman you can imagine. Maybe a nun. Nope, scratch that – too gay. Try picturing Michelle Duggar. Now picture a woman channeling a tunnel under her hospital room in the maternity ward. Just as she’s about to deliver, this rogue woman punches a whole through the gurney and pops up between Duggar’s stirrups. “Psssst, there’s another way,” she whispers. The tunnel-lady tugs on Duggar’s ankle until she lips into the underground safe-house. There tunnel-lady makes her pies and applies ointment to Duggar’s very exhausted labia. Tori Amos gently croons in the background. See, any woman can become gay with the right recruitment…” – This was freaking hilarious!

    I don’t believe in gaydar that comes with simply looking at someone’s photo. However, I think I’ve got about an 80 to 90% accuracy reading when it comes to determining whether or not a man I’m speaking with is gay or not. Maybe it’s just subliminal. I couldn’t give you a list of physical traits or mannerisms. I just feel it in my bones – and I’m nearly always right. But gay men, in particular, are my people. I’ve probably had more gay friends as an adult than straight ones. For some reason, I intrinsically get along very well with gay men – and I think I seek them out for friendship because those relationships have proven to be the most pleasant and successful for me.

    My female gaydar isn’t nearly as good, but that’s probably because I’ve historically lived in areas that don’t have many lesbians. Now that we live in a more “open” city, perhaps it will improve. But you’re right, trying to classify what makes a person look gay or act gay is impossible. People are people. Except for rednecks. They are almost always 100 footers. But I grew up with a lot of rednecks, so maybe my internal tuning fork vibrates when it hears the twang or when someone is mentally using the N-word.

    1. loooooool, so right, so right. i would like to see the ‘redneck’ facial study. can you guess this guy’s a redneck without seeing his overalls and shotgun…would be fascinating! and thank you, cristy, for getting – once again – that for me, it truly is about the writing and trying to have a funny line or two in there. thank you, for getting that. seriously. much love, sm

  6. One study? No scientist in their right mind would make a judgement based on one study. And no person I would want to know would give a rat’s ass about a million of these studies.

  7. SM,
    This is preposterous. We create these social stereotypes, these archetypes of what is uber masculine, what is sexy, what is gay, and we then market these preconceived and pre-fabricated clichés as the truth. A Gay face… what the fuck… In 20 years, the 2012 idea of what was a gay face will become something else, a new mold, what was a gay face in 2012 will be [insert new marketing idea]…
    Le Clown

    1. you are so right, clowny. AND i have missed you. AND did i ever respond to your email? because in my mind, i did. but, now i have no idea if i actually did in reality. i even remember how i started it in my head with a, ‘dear big e’. how crazy is that? anyway, can’t wait to revist your blog and the new black box. as for what you’ve said here, you are right. the stereotypes are cray cray and change from decade to decade. i’m fascinated with the whole uber-gays, passing-gays anger that happens as of late. but, as far as picking gay faces…unless there’s genitalia attached directly to that gay face at that gay moment, it’s impossible to tell… for reals, yo. miss you, sm

  8. I read the article. It sounds like a great study. Wait…is ‘great’ the word I’m looking for? Oh, the word I meant was ‘beyond feckin’ stupid.’ It seems as meaningful as putting up pictures of bald people and trying to determine which ones like greek yogurt vs. yoplait. FYI – people with lips shaped like strawberries like Dannon. Science!

    1. looooool. i for sure have yogurt lips. i’ve always known this about myself. and as much as i try and hide my yogurt lips, they always betray me in the dairy aisle…never fails. much be all those butt plugs. what? i mean polly o’s. xoxo, sm

  9. I read that article too and I thought it was ridiculous. The guy is pushing his own quack science. It’s right up there with phrenology.

    I think I have pretty good gaydar in terms of assessing someone in person, taking their style, mannerisms, speech patterns, etc. If a guy is wearing ass chaps, for instances, odds are pretty good that he’s not batting for my team.

    So I can’t tell if you have a gay face, momma, you’re just gorge to me. Hugs!

    1. phrenology!! that’s it. the quack, skull science. couldn’t think of what it was called. yeah, i could almost understand ‘gaydar’ if you watched video of a full person, but i was lost when it was just the face with everything else deleted away…that seems impossible to me…but, what do i know, i’m not a scientist! lol. xo, sm

  10. Oh, SMom,SMom,SMom….another choccy cake in the oven as I speak. Should be cooled and frosted before nightfall and on your doorstep before the sun goes down and stars begin to twinkle in your sweet-sweet dreams.

  11. Dear Gay Friend, I really, really, really, really like you for the simple fact that you are you. Now, as far as gaydar, I do pride myself on that and it’s not stereotyping (at least in my straight mind) ’cause people look at me and pretty much sum me up as well. Me, being vanilla, straight and from the South — trust me, all kinds of assumptions go with that label.

    Perhaps I gained said gaydar from attending many gay events with gay friends which, btw, never seemed to matter to any of us. This is so hilarious as usual. Sexuality is a weird little tiger and it matters not — decency, humor and respect matters more than anything. Brigitte, over and out. :). You rock, SM, you really do. xxoo.

    1. once again, completely well put, brigs. very, very well said. none of it feckin’ matters. i just love that money was spent on this and that the nytimes used a picture of the loch ness monster wearing a rainbow scarf to convey the idea. cray cray! it’s all ‘full of sound and fury signifying nothing’ – in a way, that is. xoxo, sm

  12. Should we ask all the (supposedly straight) women who drool over Anderson Cooper and those of my mom’s generation who swooned over Liberace? And then take a look at those women’s faces?

    1. okay, if this were a debate, you just would’ve won major points for positing that reality. so true. so true. i guess their gaydar was way off or it wasn’t invented yet or people were too terrified or something… too funny. xo, sm

  13. I must say that I always thought gaydar referred to a vibe/ personality feel I got from a person, not the way they looked. I guess I was using my gaydar wrong. whoops.
    Must be because I rarely register on someones gaydar. Guess I am an incher.

    1. an ‘incher’ — I LOVE, LOVE THAT. i only wish i had thought of it first, cause it’s delicious. 😉 i’m so with you…i always thought it was a vibe thing too…xo, sm

  14. The first time I heard the term Gaydar was 22 years ago, I thought it was the funniest term and probably laughed for 5 minutes. My boss and good friend had come out to me over lunch (after nearly 2 years), he was very serious about this discussion and I simply told him I had known all along, since our first interview in fact it just didn’t matter to me. He asked if it was my ‘Gaydar’. I didn’t know what that was, but no it was simply pictures (whitewater raft trip) in his office and his phraseology about them (his friend who was actually his partner).

    The ignorance of people boggles my mind. There are days when I want to slap people.

    1. yeah, the lavern and shirley “friend” or “roommate” scenario when someone’s in their 40s or 50s is a DEAD giveaway. lol. i love that it wasn’t gaydar, but the rafting trip photos. here the guy thought he was being so quiet about it and you knew from jump. isn’t that often the case? too funny. xo, sm

      1. It wasn’t the rafting trip photos, it was the photos + the “and that is my a, uhm, my a, my oh my friend”. Phraseology, is everything. He simply couldn’t figure out what to call is partner in a public setting with a stranger. He became one of my best friends. I just waited for him to come out till he was comfortable. He finally did so when he received a diagnoses of HIV Positive, it sucked. This is Texas and we aren’t to Gay friendly here, especially 20 years ago. But he is still doing great and I still give him a really hard time about those stupid pictures.

  15. Sigh…i will take this opportunity to voice my gaydar theory. I have often found myself thinking a woman is gay based on her body shape, mainly around the hip area. I can’t explain, but like porn, “i know it when i see it.” And I base gayness in men on their necks. It’s a theory that has worked for me for years, and is why one certain woman in my office I would put money on being a big ol dyke like me, never mind her marriages and repeated child bearing. She has queer hips, period. I’ll let you know when she comes out.

    1. okay, ‘QUEER HIPS??!! QUEER HIPS??!!’ i swear, christine, you nearly made me pee myself. i don’t think i have a gay face, but i will agree and join the club. i for sure have gay hips. always. i’ve always had gay hips. my god, i loved this… bwwwawaaaahhhhaaaa. xo, sm

  16. Now I can say to my husband with confidence (like I would say it any other way) “Yes, of course I can tell which one of us is going to be hit on first.” (according to these examples, we both have gay faces) I swear, every day there are more and more reasons to curse like a drunken, gay sailor – whiskey tango foxtrot! (that’s military speak for WTF!) Ignorance and stereo typing indeed! What is a handsome woman to do? : )

  17. People have asked me in the past if I’m gay. I don’t mind if people think I’m a lesbian, but I find it a little off-putting that we have an idea of what gay/straight should look like. Even worse, it was usually because I hadn’t dated in so long. So my choices are long-term commitment with a peen, or being a lesbian? Um…

    1. so true, my sweet friend, so true. women are held to ridiculous standards. don’t even get me started. anyway, i don’t think you have a gay face. i don’t think i have a particularly gay or straight face either, but i do have very bisexual ankles…

  18. That’s such a weird study. I feel pretty uncomfortable with that as well. I always felt like gaydar was more of an instinctual thing – something you just know from personality. And mine is always broken! People are people in my book 🙂

  19. This is a real thorny issue with me as i have been told i have a gay face many times and it actually causes me considerable distress due to the fact I suffer from severe social anxiety and have been diagnosed with HOCD, a truly fecking rotten condition. The mental anguish is actually life destroyin, I am a grown man of 35 yet when someone says I look gay I genuinley feel like stringing myself up for weeks. in moments of clarity I know it all unimportant but over time these moments have become fewer and fewer and life just a never ending depression.

  20. I’m gay and I believe in gaydar, I’m not even in the closet, I don’t go to the bakery store saying that I’m gay, but sometimes I have to use my gaydar, not because of assuming or wanting that other persons to be gay, is just because of feeling more free to express some stuff in some cases. I have even came to known about masculine mens with masculine features and expressions on their faces if they are gay, I’m not saying I can notice it about all them, but my gaydar doesn’t work on face features or conducts it does works on vibe and I think there’s nothing wrong with that.

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