How to Tell if a Girl is Queer

The classic dilemma for all queer women – “is she or isn’t she?“. In the absence of true science, we can only build off of stereotypes. So, naturally, this subject is also low-hanging fruit for many (respectable) comedy channels. The GayWomenChannel says it takes 10 questions (involves Ikea, Lost Girl, etc.); The Buzzfeed crew puts into video form what I do when my curiosity about someone is piqued; Just Between Us takes a stab before getting real at 1:37 (only for a short while, don’t worry); And I’m just going to leave this Hannah Hart video here because it’s hilarious.

Yes, a person’s sexuality is not the most important part of a person… but if you are like me, the second you find out she’s a lesbian, there is an instant sense of (gay) comraderie.

Why? It’s because we’re so hard to find. In 2012, 5% of Canadians identified as LGBT individuals, meaning in a room of 100 people, there are only two queer women, one of whom is probably bisexual. We’re fucking unicorns.*

(“fucking” not used as a verb)

When I find out a girl is gay, I get so excited because I have so many questions. When did you come out? Do your parents know? Do you have a girlfriend? Are you out at work? What kind of work do you do? (A good chunk of lesbians I’ve met are in artsy industries.) Have you seen Gia? Do you watch Orphan Black / listen to Hayley Kiyoko? Can you tell I don’t have a lot of lesbian friends? (Shout out to Toronto lesbians)

I am that dog that has spotted another dog on the street. It is painfully accurate.

SO. Having put out the caveat that a person’s sexuality is not necessarily the most interesting part about them, I’ll proceed to break down how my gaydar works. Every now and then, someone will slip by (surprise, I’m not perfect!), but I can anecdotally say I’m accurate 95% of the time.

There’s no single dead giveaway (unless she’s “butch”, e.g. short-trim hair, baggy clothing). It’s what they do as much as what they don’t do. It’s also about how they do.

Flag #1: She’s liberal. She’s into social justice and an activist/slacktivist in groups that are pro-feminism and pro-equality across races, sexualities, and socioeconomic classes. Generally speaking, people don’t get involved unless they have personally experienced some form of oppression. My theory is that as a queer woman in 2016, she has probably faced heteronormative oppression throughout her life and is now inclined to fight for the ‘little guy’ where she sees fit.

Flag #2: She’s into sports. Not all lesbians like sports, but this is a definite flag. Is it related to testosterone? I don’t know, I’m not a scientist. Shoutout to my Sporty Spice Gays.

Flag #3: She doesn’t talk much when it comes to checking out guys. “Yeah, he’s good-looking” is the most you’ll get – she won’t bother elaborating because she doesn’t need to.

Flag #4: Short nails.

Flag #5: She has a good gaydar. Because why would a straight person need to develop a good gaydar? #SurvivalOfTheFittest #Adaptation

Flag #6: She’s out of high school but still has a Tumblr. Is there a better goldmine for LGBT content than Tumblr? GIFs of your favourite fictional lesbian couple locking lips, GIFs of famous lesbian couples that will become your new favourite OTP/ship, LGBT news, beautifully photoshopped pictures of lesbian couples holding hands to aspire to for your #relationshipgoals… Tumblr is a goldmine for LGBT content… and a very, very dangerous place to be in emotionally past 1am.

Flag #7: Anything “alternative”. Be it taste in music, movies, hobbies… Although further down the taxonomic chain it divides into Hipster or Queer, and the argument goes the same for both: the norms that were fed to you by your family and society – pink barbie suitcases*, toy tea sets, skirts – just didn’t feel right, so you were pushed to seek solace in activities and interests outside of what was prescribed to you. So thank god for the internet and Tumblr.

(* worst fucking gift I’ve ever gotten.)

Again, straight women can set off these flags too. My argument is that the likelihood of her being gay correlates with the number of flags set off. I have a straight friend who has a fairly good gaydar, but she is 100% hetero. I have female friends who are great at a number of sports, but they are straight.

My gaydar is a work in progress but with the lesbians that I’ve crossed paths with thus far, I’ve called out every single one (in my head, of course!). But now that I’m more open about my sexuality and unafraid to be Out in public, I’m sure I’ll meet more lesbians that break down my stereotypes and challenge my gaydar. So, surprise me, lesbians. Surprise me with how diverse our kind is.

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