Things I Learned in Theatre #8350

You know when a cocker spaniel hears a high pitch they tilt their head to the side until one ear droops all the way down?

That’s kinda how straight people look when you try to explain gaydar to them.  I’ve just stopped.

I mean, you have the “cute” straight people who think it’s all about limp wrists or a lisp or a man who sashays or a woman who plays too many sports and that’s just too offensive to even deal with.  They need to stop.  No straight person has gaydar.  They have bigot-dar, but not gaydar.

I was in a play recently and I don’t usually look at the audience because — that doesn’t work for me in a play.  A musical, or stand-up, that would be different.  But a traditional-type play — no.  But one night, something threw the cast a bit, the furniture was off, or something.  And I looked.  And, sure enough, in the rows I could see in our 99-seat house, about seven guys sort of lit up.  They were gay guys.  I didn’t know them, but I hadn’t acted in a while and I’d forgotten that gaydar absolutely works when you’re on stage and you look at an audience.

So I’m waiting offstage waiting to make my next entrance with a wonderful actress who is a lesbian, and she said “lots of friends in the house tonight.”  And I said about seven, and she said yep.

It’s a part of our lives, and nature put it there for a reason.  So you see from above how judgmental and mean-spirited I get when straight people make fun of it or reduce it in some fashion.  I really think, sex aside, it’s a sort of protection mechanism on a primal scale that lets us find our pack in the wild.  If there was some horrific emergency, I know would run to one of those seven people out of instinct.  It happens shopping or driving or eating out or watching a parade.  They’ve got a little spotlight on them, and everybody else is a little out of focus.

I have absolutely stepped in and helped a total stranger based solely on that.  I have absolutely learned that when it “flickers” you’re dealing with a bisexual, though that took time.  And it also took time to separate charm, hetty male ego preying on the gayboy, and gaydar.

I wonder if it has ever been wrong, the times I thought I erred turned into successes decades later.  Even ones married to dear friends that I’d hoped I was wrong about.

Maybe straight people have straight-dar, it’s just there are so many they don’t notice.  Everybody’s lit up.  Maybe that’s how they get gaydar — it’s not the people who light up, it’s the people who don’t.  Maybe that’s what faghags do, they think, bless their hearts, they’re protecting the little out of focus person.

But that it works on stage is a reminder that we are here, and we are part of nature, and there are some interesting gifts that come with being gay…including a built-in signal that we are sooooo not alone.  Shine on, friends.  I’m always glad to see you, even if it’s out of the corner of my eye.


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