Antennas up ... columnist gets good vibes

By Anthony Ashley
Arizona Daily Wildcat
April 16, 1996

Tanith Balaban
Arizona Daily Wildcat


When I'm out with Hell-ga, or any of my straight friends, I always see a beautiful man around, leading me to comment on his hottieness. Usually, after a quick survey, I say, "Oh, he is SO gay!" Hell-ga usually responds, "You think everyone is gay!" Well, sorry darlin', but it's not my fault that I have a fierce gaydar!

Now, you breeder readers might be saying "What's a gaydar? Is that like a Walkman for those nice gay people? Is it an ID card so they know? What is it?" Well, let me inform. According to "Cassell's Queer Companion," a must for all leading the alternate lifestyle, "gaydar" is defined as: "From gay and radar. The intuitive force that allows gay men to recognize one another."

Heterosexuals have always wondered about this special little device we have. Why, I don't know. But they're always seeking concrete answers to how we know someone is gay. (Just for the record, unless it's so obvious with flannel and work boots, I can never figure out if a woman is a lesbian or a lumberjack.) They want to know if it's because of what someone wears, the way his or her hair is, or a characteristic in personality. I still can't figure out why they're so interested in being able to tell. Maybe they want to know for just plain ol' curiosity, or maybe the need to be cool and show off to others.

A gaydar is something a gay person is born with. It's not like you can go down to Wal-Mart during a "Buy one, get one free!" sale. Then you take it home and learn how to use it (some assembly required, batteries not included). I didn't even know I had one 'til the high priestess of gaydar, the gay-mother Twanda, taught me about the whole thang.

My mother (the real one), Babs, is even curious about my gaydar. For instance, her friend, Babs II, invited us over for dinner. The instant I walked into her nicely decorated townhouse, my gaydar about blew up! Good thing I was wearing my asbestos vest! I knew I was among my own when I saw Derek. By the end of the night, Derek and I had talked about whether RuPaul looked better in or out of drag, our fondness for Keanu Reeves, and oil- and water-based lubricants. The Babses sat dumbfounded.

The only people I would teach about gaydar are those who are barely coming out. For those who are struggling to sort gay men and lesbians from the imitators, please remember that the clues are really subtle at times. It could be the way someone looks at you, a gesture you also do (Bea Arthur's prot­g­ knows what I mean), or a shirt that says, "Let go of my ears! I know what I'm doing!" Once you figure it out, you will never lose that ability to know. You'll be all up in the Kool-Aid - you'll know the flavor of Tropical Punch or Purplesaurus Rex.

Straight people will envy you, possessing the special kind of aptitude that allows you to spot a fag or a dyke from across the Mall. You will get nothing but questions from those not in the know. It'll be like your birthday, but different!

I must admit, though, that gaydar doesn't always answer the way it should. There are people I work with who I wish were, but even though I know they aren't, I occasionally do get a little "reading" off them. In order to know, I suggest, if you have this problem, asking the person about easily recognizable bars or something of that nature. For example, "Hey John, didn't I see you at the 'Plug' last week? You looked all fierce and manly in those chaps!" The risks? Who cares? No, actually, this person might be so shocked, embarrassed or caught off guard that they'll pretend not to know what you're talking about, even if John, Charlie or Lauren are regulars at the "Plug." Even worse, that person may be of those heterosexual breeds of gay wannabes.

If my gaydar still doesn't work on a person, I usually have my backup test. I try to imagine the potential hottie in bed with a woman. If that doesn't work (it seldom does), then I try to imagine them with me. If that works, and I can envision it, then he's a raging queen. And just for some of your information, yes I always talk how everyone is hot, but that doesn't mean I can see ALL of them in my bed!

If you just CAN'T stand it any longer, I guess you could lower yourself to snooping through their personal stuff, but I wouldn't. Peeking can be fun, but remember, it always is important to be careful not to get caught. Some hottie will not be happy at all to find you unzipping his gym bag, and you will not be able to explain what you are doing. I suggest you don't say, for example, "Oh, sorry. Just wanted to know whether or not you're a fag." This could lead to a hospital or jail visit. Please don't make me go into that!

Just remember, you breeders cannot have a gaydar - a wannabe gaydar yes, but not a true and fully operable gaydar. Those are solely for us! For those of you just finding out about gaydar, like you did so innocently about puberty, remember to use it wisely. Don't mistreat it. Don't make me have to come over there and take it away from you (Yes, I am shaking the big finger of warning at you!).