Truth be told: There’s no such thing as having a gaydar. Drop the term because a few researchers have just affirmed the fact that it’s just our normal yet questionable way of reinforcing gender stereotypes because, well, it seems like a harmless guessing game.
“Most people think of stereotyping as inappropriate,” lead author William Cox tells Dazed. “But if you’re not calling it ‘stereotyping,’ if you’re giving it this other label and camouflaging it as ‘gaydar,’ it appears to be more socially and personally acceptable.”
This showed in the study’s experiment. Three groups of participants were led to believe three things respectively: that the notion of gaydar exists, that it doesn’t, and that there was no proper definition to both gaydar and simple stereotyping. The results yielded that the first group, which was made to believe that gaydar exists, conveniently stereotyped people.
This, in a way, proves how we also tend to rest on our heteronormative presumptions. Since we think gaydar is a legitimate phenomenon—an instinct that points to the possibility of somebody’s gayness—we think we’re not doing any wrong by simply stating facts when all we do is return to stereotypes.
Sure, stereotypes exist for a reason, but if the study teaches us anything, it’s that they don’t reflect the minority as whole. And we can’t always judge them by their cover.