Tuesday, September 14, 2004

What do the gaydar stereotypes say about you?

People who log on to gaydar are always greeted by a picture of a couple (or in some cases a lone "gay") who represent some facet of the gay scene. Maybe this is to show how diverse we are as gay men. Or maybe it's to give us suggestions about the sort of people we should be looking for, or trying to be like. Most of them I find quite scary. Here's my analysis, for what it's worth.

Ben and Tom.

They're the archetypal Gap girls of Gaydar. Utterly vanilla, well-adjusted, with their little sitcom Starbucks lives. They go to all the right circuit parties, holiday at Key West and P-town, have a cat and claim to be monogamous. You're supposed to hate them. They don't exist.

Angelo and Damien.

Flamboyant, dramatic and slightly weird - they swoosh around in an alternative universe, never really able to leave any of the 4Cs -
the Castro, Canal, Compton or Christopher Streets. They're big trouble and most people who've been burnt by them cross the road to avoid their nightmarish world of gossip, complicated threesomes and scandal.

Marge and Stella.

Although they've got the obligatory piercings and tattoos, they're actually as camp as Christmas, existing within a small clique of similar men, who've all had sex with each other, all have female names (usually based on some soap opera they all watch) and sometimes do drag.

Kevin and Chris.

Welcome to the world of long trips to Banana Republic and cottaging at the airport between connecting flights. This pair of A-gays may not have the looks, but they've got the cash and the personal trainer. "Professional", "Own Home(s), Own Car". They're shockingly conservative and ever-so snobby. Unfortunately, their chi-chi dinner-parties usually descend into drama and/or orgies.

Biff and Ted.

The construction of masculinity via "expressive artefacts" and "concrete objects" are what this pair are all about. If it's even slightly butch, they'll fetishise it. In a kind of reverse-obedience, they reject the standard notions of gay attractiveness (See Ben and Tom). They may sometimes pair up with Kyle and Travis (see below) for a jolly foursome.

Kyle and Travis (aka Master and Pig).

From the outside it all sounds a bit dark and nihilistic, but in reality the maintenance of complicated master-slave relationships becomes as all-consuming and socially fraught as a Jane Austen novel. Just bring along plenty of wet wipes with you.

Matt and Ricky.

These college boys have just discovered Queer Theory and you'll be so sorry they did. They've only been together for three weeks and have already had a commitment ceremony, experimented with an open relationship, split up, got back together again, moved in, moved out and generally divided and alienated all of their friends. Leave them to sort it out and come back in five years.

Toby and Bobby.

The not-so-secret fantasy of every gaydar user - these chickens are practically jail-bait and are the ones who hold all the real sexual power in every gaydar game (only they won't know that until they're older and don't have it). Their tastes dictate the music we have to listen to, the clothes we wear and the hairstyles we emulate. All-too-often their "Beautiful Thing" phases lasts the better part of a year and they've experienced male pattern baldness, beer belly and dark circles round their eyes as a result of too many late nights. Get them while they're (still) hot!

Mike and Leroy.

The only couple which feature two non-whites, they are a bold statement that you don't have to be a "banana", "curry" or "rice" queen or whatever racist language is used to describe men who have sex with different ethnic groups. They're also the happiest and most natural-looking couple - I'm sure there's a message there somewhere.

What's missing from our line-up are couples featuring guys over the age of 50 - as well as anyone who looks very camp - where's the equivalent of Carson Kressley with floopy (yes floopy) blonde shoulder-length hair? The couples all look disgustingly urban as well (I bet they all stink of cigarettes, even if they don't smoke) - there are no country mice like me, wearing an unfashionably sensible anorak. Still, some representation is better than none. But we still have further to go...

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