How can you tell if someone is gay? Many people will say that there really is no way to know. Others will say that they have a tried and tested method of sniffing out the gay in any situation. Still, others will claim that they have a “gay-dar” and that they just know whether someone is or isn’t. To be honest, if you came here for a foolproof way of figuring out if your friend is gay or not, this is not the place for you. While there are ways to infer someone’s sexual orientation, the things we’re going to talk about here have nothing to do with that. Rather, we’re going to attempt to have a nuanced conversation about sexuality and how a lot of the things that are often used as indicators of a person’s sexuality really don’t mean very much at all.
Many people often use a person’s hobbies, fashion sense, or general demeanor to try and discern a person’s sexuality. That’s why people will often say that doing certain things is “gay,” like a woman playing softball or a man enjoying theater. However, there is no magic bullet hobby or personality trait that will point out a gay person, just like there isn’t a magic bullet hobby or personality trait to identify a straight person. If you’re a person who’s seriously dying to know whether their friend is gay, and are trying to build a case in either direction for whatever reason, this is for you. Here’s everything you need to know to solve the mystery of whether your friend is gay or not, in a way that actually works and doesn’t reduce anyone to a stereotype.
15. Firstly, Know That There’s No Real, FoolProof Way To Tell
Before we go on, it seems important to issue a disclaimer. There’s no way to definitively say whether a person is gay or not unless you are the person in question. The only person who has the power to say what their sexual orientation is would be the person who’s being discussed. You can have whatever methods of trying to find out who’s gay and who isn’t, but none of it will matter in the face of the truth. If someone thought that they could discern your sexuality by your haircut, or your outfits, or the things you like to do with your time, you’d be pretty upset about that. The same goes for people in the LGBT+ community, who spend a lot of time trying to break down the stereotypes that often serve to be nothing but oppressive. Stereotypes are some of the most annoying things to deal with on a social level because you’re constantly having to prove that you’re not what people are assuming you are. That’s not something you ever want to put another person through.
14. Consider Other Possibilities
Before you assume that someone is gay because of something arbitrary, one thing you could do is simply not assume that. If a woman likes playing softball, for example, that might not mean that she’s gay, it might just mean that she likes playing softball. Not everything has to be indicative of who you like and who you want to sleep with. Nobody really has those types of stereotypes for straight people, so there really shouldn’t be any for gay people, either. People have this need to put people into boxes for some reason, which is why people are so obsessed with trying to figure out what someone is or isn’t. The problem is that people don’t fit into those boxes or titles just because we need them to fit there. It’s something you should consider when you’re trying to figure out whether someone is gay or not.
13. Learn That Orientation Is A Spectrum
Sexual orientation is a lot more than straight and gay. Many people are bisexual, pansexual, and asexual, not to mention all of the other sexual orientations out there. It surprises me that this is a surprise to people in 2017, but considering people are still ostracizing others for not being straight, this really isn’t a surprise after all. There are a few theories on sexuality, the most famous being the Kinsey Scale, where a person who’s entirely heterosexual would be a zero, a person who’s entirely homosexual would be a six, and the majority of the population falls somewhere in between. The scale has its flaws and detractors, but its existence is proof that people have had a more nuanced view of sexuality for decades now. While you’re busy looking for signs that your friend is gay, you might be forgetting that they might not be gay at all. They could be bi, or ace, or anything else, and all of that is okay.
12. Observe Their Behavior
Many people believe that there are certain behaviors that indicate that a person is gay or not. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While some gay people are flamboyant and fit into the perceived stereotype of what a gay person is often seen as in the media, others couldn’t be further from that. Meanwhile, there are some straight people who act in a way that could be seen as “gay,” which leads people to make wrongheaded assumptions about a person’s sexuality. This is why while behavior can be a marker to help a person figure out if someone is gay or not, it really shouldn’t be a marker of a person’s sexuality, because no one thing can be a marker for something so complicated. Reducing a group of people to a stereotype, gay people in this case, is kind of messed up, and the less we do it the better.
11. Observe Them Around The Opposite Gender
Many men who want to know if their male friend is gay go out of their way to see how comfortable their friend is around attractive women. This is not a good marker for sexuality, though. A person’s comfort with the opposite sex has nothing to do with their sexuality. Straight men who are nothing but awkwardness around women aren’t gay because they’re not “comfortable” around women. Straight women who find themselves wary of men for whatever reason aren’t gay because they’re not “comfortable” around men. There are gay people who socialize better than straight people with the opposite sex, and there are gay people who don’t. LGBT people don’t exist in a monolith because no one exists in one. You might think that this is a good way to tell whether someone is gay, but honestly, it’s not. It’s just another way to perpetuate stereotypes.
10. Observe Them Around The Same Gender
There are some people who think that the way a person acts around the opposite sex isn’t the issue. Rather, it’s how they act with people of the same sex. They expect gay people to trip over their words more or even try and hit on every person of the same sex they meet. This could not be further from the truth. There are many people who are attracted to members of the same sex, and they act differently from each other because they are different people. It kind of baffles me how this is always an issue for straight people because they don’t seem to realize that LGBT people are more than their sexual orientation.
9. Don’t Judge By Their Hobbies
A person’s hobbies can often show us a bit of who that person is. For example, I like making my own clothes in my spare time. That shows a bit about me. However, my hobby of making my own clothes out of my old ones has nothing to do with my sexuality. The same goes for anyone else. You might have a male friend who likes to knit or participate in theater or anything in that ballpark. That doesn’t mean that they’re gay. None of your hobbies mean anything about your sexuality, so nobody else’s hobbies do that for them, either. Hobbies shouldn’t ever have a gender, because hobbies don’t have a gender. This is a good example of how gender roles can really mess with how we perceive other people, and how gender roles might not be all they’re cracked up to be.
8. Don’t Judge By How They Dress
The way that a person dresses has nothing to do with their sexuality. It might seem a little repetitive to say that ‘this thing’ or ‘that thing’ has nothing to do with a person’s sexuality. However, it’s kind of repetitive for me to continue to repeat this for different things. For many people, stereotypes exist for a reason, which is why they go out of their way to think a guy in skinny jeans or someone who uses hair products might be gay, or a girl who dresses in a less feminine way is a lesbian. However, this is far from the case for all people. Again, if you wouldn’t want someone to judge your choices, you shouldn’t judge the choices of others. This goes especially for things as inconsequential as the way a person dresses.
7. Don’t Judge By Their Other Friends
Some people think that the sexual orientation of a person’s friends can determine their sexuality. While it’s often said that birds of a feather flock together, that doesn’t have to mean that everyone in a group of people is gay because they choose to associate with each other. That’s not really fair to anyone, and it’s a really simplistic way of thinking. It might seem crazy, but when people choose to associate with each other, they do it because they like those people and have things in common with each other, not because they’re sexually attracted to those people. Sure, sometimes that’s a factor, but that’s if the friendship goes beyond the platonic level. If the friendship stays platonic, sexual attraction never comes into things, so a person’s sexual orientation in a friendship doesn’t matter. Rather, it shouldn’t matter. Unfortunately, many closed minded people think that it does, which causes a whole lot of issues that don’t actually need to happen.
6. Don’t Push It
If you think a friend of yours is gay and they’ve made it clear that they don’t want to talk about it, don’t push it with them. Since you’re their friend, you don’t want to be that guy. You never want to be the person who makes a friend feel cornered, especially about something as personal as their sexuality. If a person isn’t talking about their sexuality, there’s generally a good reason for that. They could be in the closet for whatever reason, or they could just see it as irrelevant to their lives. The last thing you need to do is make their lives harder and bring up sexuality when it doesn’t need to be brought up. When a person is ready to open up about their sexuality, they’ll do it. In an ideal world, they’d do it on their own timetable, but in many cases, people are forced to announce their sexuality for no other reason than that people want to know. You really don’t want to be the reason someone coming out isn’t entirely their own decision.
5. Don’t Out Anyone For Any Reason
This is something that should be in the Ten Commandments at this point. Every moral code out there needs to have some version of this rule on it. When it comes to talking about sexual orientation, there is one golden rule that everyone should follow: never, ever out anyone for any reason. If the thought crosses your mind, you’re already on the wrong path. A person coming out should be entirely their decision, and outing someone takes that decision away from them. There is literally no reason in the world that can justify outing someone. There’s no scenario that doesn’t get worse if someone gets outed. Outing people doesn’t just ruin their lives, it also reveals that the person doing the outing is kind of a complete jerk. People who out others probably don’t care about that, but to be honest, this is one of the lowest things someone could do to another person.
4. Don’t Be A Jerk
If you’re trying to figure out whether a friend is gay or not, hopefully, you’re doing it so you can be a better ally and support them. It would be a really jerky thing to do if you’re not doing it for that reason. Another golden rule when it comes to sexual orientation is just not to be a jerk about it. If a friend comes out to you, that isn’t the time to go on about your moral objections to being gay, or how you think marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s definitely not the time to act like your friend is suddenly going to try and get with you, or think that they’re coming out to you specifically to get with you romantically. That’s very rarely the case. When in doubt, just don’t be a jerk about this. Your friend elected to trust you with their sexual orientation because they value your friendship and trust you not to be a jerk about it. Be a friend that’s worthy of that trust, and don’t treat them differently over this. They’re not really all that different: you just know something else about them now.
3. Show That You’re Willing To Support Them
If a friend is coming out to you, the best thing for you to do is show them that you’re still that friend and that you’ll always be behind them. Many people find that when they come out, their friends stop being the loyal allies they were and start deserting them. Sometimes that desertion happens slowly, but other times a person’s friends will desert them en masse. It’s honestly one of the hardest things about coming out: worrying about how your friends are going to see you or even if they’ll still be your friends when you tell them. This is putting aside everything that you might have to deal with when it comes to your family, which can lead to that much more heartache. If you’re truly someone’s friend, their sexuality wouldn’t be a factor in how you see them. You might see them in a new light due to this revelation, but whether you like them as people or not shouldn’t rest on a person’s sexual orientation. If you’re in the position where a friend is coming out to you, remember that your friend is still your friend regardless of who they love.
2. Literally Just Ask
It doesn’t make sense to wonder whether a friend of yours is gay if you have a relationship with them where you can ask. This definitely isn’t something you want to do with all of your friends because coming out and asking about a person’s sexuality can be kind of insensitive. However, if you have a good relationship with your friend and you think the question wouldn’t be an out of bounds one, it actually wouldn’t be a bad idea to just come out and ask. While some people don’t appreciate being asked about this, others actually welcome it, and will only answer the question if they’re directly asked. This isn’t really a tip to help you figure out whether a person is gay or not, but then again, it sort of is a good tip. After all, sometimes the best way to find something out is to just come out and ask the question. Just make sure that if you do decide to ask your friend that you do it in a respectful way and not in an accusatory one.
1. Mind Your Own Business
If you’re not the type to come out and ask, and you’re the type to rely on superficial markers of a person’s sexuality, the best thing for you to do is simply to mind your own business. A person’s sexuality, while it can be the cause of a lot of curiosity, isn’t really anyone’s business. We tend to make sexuality our business by focusing so much on it, even basing our judgments of people on their sexuality for no reason. Sexuality, while it’s an important facet of a person’s identity, isn’t a person’s entire identity, and we oversimplify people by doing that to others. Whether you’re just beginning to wonder whether a friend of yours is gay or you’re basically positive that they are, regardless of that, their sexuality isn’t your business. It only becomes your business when the friend in question trusts you with that revelation. While your gay-dar could be the best in the world, it’s not really relevant if you’re prying into someone else’s business. When in doubt, don’t be that guy.