Thursday, October 4, 2007


As you know, I am plagued with uncertainty 80% of the time. Or maybe 90%? Anyway, one of the consequences of such a low level of confidence is an inability of really being able to read people.

Sometimes I'm the person I can't read. One of my least favorite questions I was sometime asked during high school was "so why don't you have a girlfriend?" This was before I was 80-90% certain that I was gay, so dealing with this question was even more peculiar. The question was never mean-spirited; it was more of a curiosity about how someone who is obviously the complete package could be going through life single (I'm paraphrasing...slightly). I think what bothered me more than the fact that I was single was that I couldn't actually answer the "why" question. Well, not at the time.

Fast forward to college and the question shifted from "why don't you have a special someone" to "is he gay or what?" Although I'm sure the conversation happened more than I am aware, since the latter is more of a gossip starter, it really is an awkward situation when someone just asks you point blank. This is where another shift occurs. With the "why single" question, the asker is asking out of concern and seems to come from a place of admiration in that the asker recognizes positive qualities in the person. Not so with the "so, gay?" question, which in my experience has been used as a means to justify or resolve a disconnect between behaviors and social norms or what "straight" is. And the question is of the "do you still beat your wife" variety, in that any denial could just be met with an "mmm-hmm, right". Though it is fun to gobsmack people with an equally blunt "yes" to their question. Good times.

Assuming that I'm still the same complete package I was in high school (work with me on this one), it would seem to follow that I should be getting the "why don't you have a boyfriend?" line of questioning. Well, the difficulties of uncertainty and identity politics, and my need to obsess over them, has rendered my gaydar completely useless for the people I find myself attracted to. It has been driving me crazy recently, as having a "ping" or some sort of confirmation would make life a lot easier right now. Not because the time has been unbearable (it hasn't), but because if there is a next step to take, I would like to do so this decade. And if not, I would like to not be coming across as creepy or whatever (I don't think I am, but again, not good at reading any room I'm in). Without some sort of ping, my only course of action would be to do the "so, gay?" thing which is beyond inappropriate and totally shows my cards. I'm so not going to do that.

So if anyone has a way of calibrating a gaydar that isn't Gay or European?, I'd appreciate the assist.

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