Parting Glances: Sniff it. (With passion)

Charles Alexander
By | 2018-01-15T19:26:02-05:00 December 22nd, 2005|Opinions|

The December Psychology Today has a brief seven-question interview with in-your-face, Korean-American, straight, standup comic Margeret Cho. One of the questions asked her concerns lesbian comedians — a delightful breed of ribsters.
Psychology Today: “According to one theory, humor is testosterone-driven. Perhaps female comics have been masculinized, which is why you see so many lesbian comedians[?]” Cho: “I know female comics who are very feminine. Comics also have to have a certain courage that is not always considered acceptable for women to have.”
[Bless you, stand-upper Leslie Ann Thompson — for your “certain courage” — testosterone-driven, or not. You go, Les-be-ann!]
Rather jolting — given the magazine’s pop psychology, self-help format, and its middle-class readership — is the following out-of-left-field, without a short-stop glove, exchange. PT: “I don’t think I could get the word [BLEEP!] out in front of my parents.” CHO: “My parents have no idea what [BLEEP!] is.”
Well, Ms. Cho, as Sister Scatterpin would say, “I shan’t point a finger or shake a fist at anyone’s private business. But I could kick Vatican [BLEEP!] in public if given half a chance.”
This same issue of PT has an another item of more penetrating merit: “gaydar.” It seems there’s some genetic basis after all for the art of “I can spot one a mile away.” (Actually straights who say this are more often likely than not to be totally mistaken. Gays are usually right on the mark. At least my mile-away track record’s pretty good.)
While most LGBTs are aware of gaydar [is there a transgender-dar, a bi-dar, a crossdresser-dar? a Recovering-Catholic-dar?] and take gaydar for granted, the phenomenon is intriguing to straights, who are a nosy bunch of sod duffers anyway.
According to PT, William Lee Adams, a Harvard College undergraduate, has researched gaydar for his senior thesis. He finds that when volunteers viewed pictures of strangers quickly — neck-up photos and videos, no jewelry, no makeup — gays and lesbians are more accurate in identifying other gays and lesbians.
“Gay men and women not only made more accurate assessments, they were efficient, too. It took about 2 seconds for gays to decide whether a person was straight or not.” Adds Adams, “You either have gaydar or you don’t.” It goes with the turf.
Adams research also shows that gay men are more easily identified than lesbians. Lesbians are also more likely to be misclassified by both heteros and homos as straight. (An insert picture of Cynthia Nixon is entitled, “UNDER THE RADAR: ‘Sex and the City’s Nixon went undetected.”) Adams stresses that gay male detectability might be due to greater visibility in movies and on TV.
There may also be a biological basis for gaydar. Researchers at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia (the City of Brotherly Love), find that when gays, lesbians, straight men, and women sniff the underarm odors of others — without deodorants or perfume — gay men strongly prefer the smell of other gay men. [Snooty bunch.]
Down side (and I quote): “Lesbians, as well as straight men and women, find the scents of gay men least appealing.” [Holiday advice for Gay Men: Don’t stand under the mistletoe without benefit of patchouli, vanilla extract, or Dial soap unless you are about to sniff someone equally gay. If not sure, employ your gaydar, or sniff passionately anyway.]
Adams — whom it strikes this humble gaydarer as not the brightest ornament on the artificial Xmas tree — wraps up with cellophane ribbon: “Maybe gaydar is a coping mechanism.” Maybe so.
It sure facilitates getting laid in record time.

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Charles Alexander