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Facebook outing
September 20, 2009 5:23 AM   Subscribe

It started as a simple term project for an MIT class on ethics and law on the electronic frontier. Using data from the social network Facebook, they made a striking discovery: just by looking at a person’s online friends, they could predict whether the person was gay.
posted by Kirth Gerson (80 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
they could predict whether the person was gay.

Well, I'm very interested in this. For a long time, I've bet money on the horses, but it's only recently that I've started to bet on whether a person was gay. With this new technique, I've been successful 5 times out of 10 (and as anyone playing this field can tell you, that's pretty good!) I hope they refine their model, because sometimes I can't tell whether someone is out of the closet until the horse is out and the barn door has been shut.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:32 AM on September 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm a little troubled by how they checked the data:
Although the researchers had no way to confirm the analysis with scientific rigor, they used their private knowledge of 10 people in the network who were gay but did not declare it on their Facebook page as a simple check. They found all 10 people were predicted to be gay by the program.
Seems like there may be a correlation / causality issue- specifically, I'd think this works well with folks who are out of the closet, who would be more likely to be known to the researchers.
posted by jenkinsEar at 5:35 AM on September 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


water's wet. sky is blue.
posted by billybobtoo at 5:35 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting.
posted by Xany at 5:37 AM on September 20, 2009


I can look at a persons date and predict whether or not they were gay - I mean think about it, that's from an N of 1, not a whole roster of Facebook friends!

An N of 0 would be really impressive!
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:51 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, if 80% of the friends are self-confessed gays, then there is a pretty high chance that the person studied is also gay. This doesn't strike me as a ground-breaking discovery.
posted by sour cream at 6:02 AM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sounds pretty feasible. I bet you'd get good results by taking a generic PageRank algorithm, set a high initial-value for anyone that self-defines as gay and a negative initial value for anyone that is straight. Because PageRank works by inbound links (other people friending you), having a higher ratio of gay friends to straight friends would make one a strong "gaydar-friend" (one's pagerank is determined by the value of the inbound links, the more people that link to your website, the more likely Google will like it). By having the gaydar friend link to you (be your friend), the gaydar would think you were gay (as hypothetically he is only friends with gay people, and by being his friend you were more likely to be classified as gay). BAM!

I bet their signal-noise ratio would be 10x better if they include wall posts amongst friends, as they're unidirectional links (to be more like how Google uses pagerank) instead of facebook's mutual friending, and it provide a better signal on who's closer friends and gives a better picture of their real social network

Of course, this could be applied to anything, i.e. terrorists. <cynical>Sounds like someone's playing to get funding from the CIA/NSA during this recession.</cynical>
posted by amuseDetachment at 6:04 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


The two students had no way of checking all of their predictions, but based on their own knowledge outside the Facebook world, their computer program appeared quite accurate for men, they said.
The work has not been published in a scientific journal, but it provides a provocative warning note about privacy.
I predict these guys are not really doing what they say they are doing. I can't check this prediction, but based on my knowledge outside the MIT world, I'm sure it is quite accurate for undergrads.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:09 AM on September 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


These guys made an assumption that they couldn't really test in any meaningful way. Boston Globe took up that assumption without questioning it ("they could predict whether the person was gay" is not in any way what can be concluded of this research given the methodology), and (some) people here have had a similar response.

From a social scientist's perspective, what these guys seem to have shown is that if you have a lot of gay friends on Facebook, people are more likely to assume you are gay.
posted by carmen at 6:24 AM on September 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Big deal.

I can look at nothing but a person's family photos and determine with 84 percent accuracy whether or not that person is black.
posted by flarbuse at 6:25 AM on September 20, 2009 [62 favorites]


This study is clearly flawed or wrong it shouldn't have been done because everybody knows that gay people are absolutely indistinguishable from straight people.

Unless you tell people outright what your orientation is. I have a bumper sticker that says 'I am straight but not narrow' on my car in order to reassure gay people, and therefore people who can see the back of my car will know that I'm straight.

But the point is that you can't tell whether a person is gay without asking them because it would suggest that gay people are different in some capacity than straight people and that would contradict a lot of rhetoric that I prefer.

Also sometimes it is rude to ask 'are you gay?' so you should be careful.
posted by Mayor Peace Love and Unity at 6:36 AM on September 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


So? Unless I'm going to sleep with you, I don't care who you like to sleep with.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:36 AM on September 20, 2009 [12 favorites]


In related news, Facebook has been bought by an unnamed governmental agency for an undisclosed sum.
posted by surrendering monkey at 6:42 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clearly the MIT professor himself is gay because he's all like "Oh my God - you can actually put some computation behind that"
posted by freshundz at 6:48 AM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


The headline was sensationalistic

At MIT, experiment identifies gay students

My half awake sunday morning glance was "mit outs students", I expect many people clicked the link to see if it named any names.

The so so article discuses an unpublished article about social network analysis.

Kinda cheesey journalism but that is not surprising either.
posted by sammyo at 6:49 AM on September 20, 2009


Look, Facebook already thinks I'm gay. And that I'm a Catholic housewife in the market for a hot West Loop condo and struggling with fertility issues who should become a licensed nurse in just 12 months.
posted by applemeat at 6:57 AM on September 20, 2009 [11 favorites]


This study is clearly flawed or wrong it shouldn't have been done because everybody knows that gay people are absolutely indistinguishable from straight people.

No, the conclusions being drawn from this study are wrong because those conclusions were not tested by the study.

The students who ran the experiment know 10 gay people who participated in the study, and the program identified them as gay from their Facebook friends. That doesn't tell us much:

Does the program correctly differentiate the straight children of out gay people from gay people? Does it correctly differentiate straight people who participate in organizations such as the Gay Straight Alliance? Is the assumption that a person's Facebook friends represent the same mix of gay and straight an accurate one? How does the program classify people who don't self-identify as either gay or straight?

The answers to these questions are critical to knowing whether the program's classification of "gay" or "straight" was in any way accurate, and none of those questions could be answered by the study as it was conducted.
posted by carmen at 7:07 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, is MIT backing this up as a scientific experiement? Because this article certainly makes it sound like that. "The work has not been published in a scientific journal", ORLY? But, still, MIT, yeah? It's an MIT study about how UR so GHEY, Right? Right?

and the end of the article really pisses me off: ““You can do damage to your reputation with social networking data, and other people can do damage to you. I do think that there’s been a very fast learning curve - people are quickly learning the dos and don’ts of Internet behavior,” said Jason Kaufman, a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University who is studying a set of Facebook data."

So, the message is that having gay friends damages your reputation, right? If not that, what are they saying? Why did they include that quote, and what is this test really about, anyway?

Ack. I wish I were still as lucky and rich in friends as I was back when about 90% of them were gay. I didn't change, but I moved to a place where not many people are out... even without MIT to threaten them.
posted by taz at 7:11 AM on September 20, 2009 [9 favorites]


Today's lesson: If you have degree from a prestigious university or are even just enrolled for a semester or two, then people will accept any nonsense you come up with as total brilliance. Many large consulting firms have been built around this model.
posted by humanfont at 7:19 AM on September 20, 2009 [19 favorites]


The Boston Globe thinks poorly validated undergraduate term projects are newsworthy?
posted by grouse at 7:35 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Today's lesson': On a slow news day, expect overworked, understaffed news organizations to just google MIT's web site for old (2007) potentially inflammatory filler.
posted by sammyo at 7:37 AM on September 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Can they correctly tell the difference between someone who's gay and someone who's bisexual? Or just a fag hag?
posted by orange swan at 7:38 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why would you only use the Facebook friend lists of 33 gay guys as a model for how large a percentage of gay friends would indicate a person was gay? I mean, if the assumption is that gay guys have a lot of friends, shouldn't each of those 33 gay guys have a lot of gay friends whose friend lists you could analyze? (in b4 analyze joke) And then why would you test your computer program on 947 profiles that you had no way of verifying (beyond the 10 that you happen to know)? If you REALLY wanted to see if your program was accurate, why wouldn't you test it on profiles where you could verify the results?
posted by 23skidoo at 7:39 AM on September 20, 2009


I can tell whether or not somebody is gay by how they respond when I say "Jane, you wouldn't be able to do these awful things to me if I weren't still in this chair."
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:43 AM on September 20, 2009 [14 favorites]


Allowing the "Are You Gay?" application access will let it pull your profile information, photos, your friends' info, and other content that it requires to work.
posted by horsemuth at 7:45 AM on September 20, 2009 [5 favorites]


...analyzing the friend links of 1,544 men who said they were straight, 21 who said they were bisexual, and 33 who said they were gay.

That is a pretty skewed data set.

Oh well. They have totally failed to demonstrate their theory in any meaningful way, but that's fine because it's pretty obvious. I'm sure it's better than random guessing but not amazingly so. If you have lots of gay friends you are gay*. I can also predict that men from West Hollywood and San Francisco are gay*.

(* Unless you are not)
posted by Bokononist at 7:46 AM on September 20, 2009


I HAVE SUPER GAYDAR
posted by KokuRyu at 7:46 AM on September 20, 2009


...if they include wall posts amongst friends...

Oh, honey, all anyone needs to do is look at most of the posts friends make to my wall to know!
posted by ericb at 7:49 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Someone cares so much about whatever happens at MIT that they have to publish it in the papers. Next thing you know, there'll be a story about the adorable hackers who put shit atop the silly dome every year. Wait, this whole gay by the numbers thing might be a hack. These MIT stoonts are so clever.
posted by jsavimbi at 7:59 AM on September 20, 2009


There's only one way to tell if you're gay. You have to sleep with a woman and see how you like it.

Yes!

And then sleep with a man and see how it compares.

Aw!
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:07 AM on September 20, 2009 [18 favorites]


I appreciate the effective debunking here. I wonder if the Globe might thinking more about the notion that something you don't explicitly disclose on Facebook might be able to be inferred or "computed" through other data. Where Facebook members make explicit choices about what information to reveal and maybe don't expect that other profile-like information could be extracted. I wonder further if this is less obvious to a gay person who has dealt with people thinking - or not - they are gay, and any consequences, than to a straight person who hasn't, and thus we have "news."
posted by stevil at 8:17 AM on September 20, 2009


The homophily principle outs homophiles. Who knew?

Also: "Project Gaydar" is a stupid fucking name. Someone should do elementary statistical analysis to find out why MIT students are such tone-deaf social retards.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:19 AM on September 20, 2009


and the end of the article really pisses me off: ““You can do damage to your reputation with social networking data, and other people can do damage to you. I do think that there’s been a very fast learning curve - people are quickly learning the dos and don’ts of Internet behavior,” said Jason Kaufman, a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University who is studying a set of Facebook data." So, the message is that having gay friends damages your reputation, right? If not that, what are they saying? Why did they include that quote, and what is this test really about, anyway?

I can see why this would piss you off, but let me assure you that there is no cause for pissed-offness here and this is most likely the result of a journalist taking a quotation out of context. I can assure you Jason Kaufman does not think that being gay or having gay friends damages one's reputation. He's a real researcher doing proper rigorous research that he presents at national conferences and publishes in real peer-reviewed journals. No need to throw him out with the bathwater. If you really want to know what he was saying, email him and ask him.

Given the headline call this an experiment, which it's clearly not (do you see a control and treatment group?) and that in general the article is just kind of the teh suck, it doesn't seem like a stretch to imagine that the journalist mis-represented the quotation.

As for this research, no I'm sure MIT doesn't "endorse" it since universties aren't in the habit of "Endorsing" any of the research their affiliates produce. It's why when you write things up about your research you're allowed to say you're a researcher at X university, but not a University X researcher. No researcher speaks for the university. But I would go further and suggest that it's likely that this research in particular was not put through an IRB board at MIT. I have a heard time believing that an IRB board approved the "and I happen to know they're gay" method of data collection.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:24 AM on September 20, 2009 [4 favorites]


Firstly, this isn't a scientific study. It's just a guessing game. I confess I've looked through people's Friend lists to try to figure out if someone might be gay, yes, by seeing how many friends are out gays. Interestingly my friend list is about 30% gay men and the other 70% are straight people I've known in my life. I suppose I could be pegged for gay, but duh. I don't know many straight people who know 400 gay men let alone be FB friends with them. The good looking single guy in his 30s with all those gay friends, hmm, might ping a gaydar. Doesn't mean I am or not. But I'm sure you could guess me with more than an 84% accuracy. And god, if someone read my wall they'd have 100% accuracy.
What bothers me is that implication that having a long list of gays as friends would appear to be damaging. That's really a disgusting statement. Also, I would assume that if a gay person who was closeted wanted to keep it that way, they wouldn't have just one profile where all their gay and straight friends and coworkers would have access. They would just get a second profile for their gay friends as "William MD" or something.
One of my straight friends on FB has like 90% gay FB friends. His Dad is gay and he hangs out with us all the time. I would imagine that MIT would get him wrong. So yeah, this study isn't saying anything more than if you have many gay friends someone will think you're gay too. Not too shocking.
posted by WilliamMD at 8:24 AM on September 20, 2009


I've a better idea, let's show that facebook is a dating site, plus facebook succeeds as a dating site wins by most effectively playing the fence between being or not being a dating site.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:26 AM on September 20, 2009


"If you go to MIT you are either a geek or a fag, amirite?"

-- new non-conclusive study published by three Harvard frat guys looking for trouble at "Miracle of Science" bar
posted by briank at 8:32 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


And I thought this would be the dumb facebook news of the day:

The popular online social networking site Facebook helped lead to an alleged burglar’s arrest after he stopped to check his account on the victim’s computer, but forgot to log out before leaving the home with two diamond rings.

posted by Rumple at 8:46 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe if we didn't care, no one would care.
posted by swlabr at 8:49 AM on September 20, 2009


Takes one to know one
posted by Postroad at 8:58 AM on September 20, 2009


Looking at one of the Project Gaydar author's website, he is clearly not outing his project. ("Facebook relational data privacy analysis. Email me for details.") Anyway from what little internet stalking I did, I'm glad to see they both probably moved on to more legitimate projects. Because this stuff totally isn't real research.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 9:00 AM on September 20, 2009


I can look at a picture of a man blowing another man and tell if they are gay.
posted by inturnaround at 9:04 AM on September 20, 2009


Facebook can correctly predict that members of a community / people with similar attributes, can be predicted by links. I'll bet that would work to predict who's Hispanic, or who's a Democrat, or whatever.

If gay as an attribute stops being illegal, scary, or otherwise something that is discriminated against, this would be an interesting undergrad experiment, but not a big deal.
posted by theora55 at 9:15 AM on September 20, 2009


I can look at a picture of a man blowing another man and tell if they are gay.

And if I looked at a picture of you looking at a picture of a man blowing another man...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:36 AM on September 20, 2009 [6 favorites]


Is that second-gay? Or gay once-removed?
posted by 23skidoo at 9:53 AM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


But you are Astro Zombie, you are.

I have anti-gaydar. If I'm at a mostly homophile meetup, I will inevitably end up chatting/flirting/really getting along with the one straight guy in the room.
posted by The Whelk at 9:57 AM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


ummmmm......

yeaaahhh.

(Don't we all know this already?)
posted by SLC Mom at 10:22 AM on September 20, 2009


I can look at a picture of a man blowing another man and tell if they are gay.

Dad, I'm not gay, I'm trade! The guys blow me!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:39 AM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


i wonder how well this works on metafilter comments, miss thing...
posted by sexyrobot at 10:48 AM on September 20, 2009


I wonder if having only friends of one race on facebook means you're a racist.
posted by anniecat at 10:54 AM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


three Harvard frat guys

Harvard doesn't have real frats. BU does. Unless frat = lacrosse douchebags. Plenty of those at Harvard, and in Boston in general.
posted by anniecat at 10:57 AM on September 20, 2009


This would be a lot more interesting if it worked on FreeRepublic instead of Facebook.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:30 AM on September 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah if this was a "Predict which if your friends are Democrats" or "Predict which of your friends are Atheists", there wouldn't be this much of crazy-flipping-out. Also, with regards to the efficacy of this, knowing a little about machine learning within social networks, my hunch would be this wouldn't be able to tell someone in denial or completely in the closet (as they probably don't have many gay friends). What this will probably tell you, is the co-worker that tries to keep work/personal-life separate and is out amongst his/her friends. In that case, it will be fairly effective in that they're not publicly disclosing their orientation on the site, but co-workers using this can indirectly derive their orientation with fairly good confidence if they have enough friends on the site.
posted by amuseDetachment at 11:44 AM on September 20, 2009


I don't have this problem because I just assume every man on facebook who specifically doesn't put "Interested in: Women" in his Info tab is gay. It's been pretty accurate, so far.
posted by Avenger at 11:53 AM on September 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm kind of surprised that this project passed muster in the ethical review process, though I'm not a social scientist. If this were a project to predict potential terrorists based on their Facebook friends, I think people would be rather upset at the potential consequences.
posted by dubitoergosum at 11:54 AM on September 20, 2009


My hugely scientific paper will explore if there is a way to tell if someone is deeply closeted but doesn't know it yet, just by the groups they're fans of.
posted by maxwelton at 11:54 AM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I guess this article 'blew up' because there was an easy segue from the other MIT privacy articles to this one, but it's silly to talk about. It isn't published, proven, or public... it's just a silly term project, much like any other term project at any other school.

Also, it's ridiculously easy to implement this kind of thing; the reason people don't do it more often is because they clearly violated Facebook's terms of service.

(disclosure, so have I, for information gathering I wrote a Facebook spider and did some stuff on my school's students. Could I get a fp for that plz?)
posted by tmcw at 12:31 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


"To find out, I'll be using this gay detection device. It's kind of a radar for gayness, or 'gay radar.' It's called... a homometer."

Also: Stephen Colbert interviews the inventor of Gaydar
posted by Rhaomi at 12:32 PM on September 20, 2009


Somewhere in an MIT dorm, two undergrads are playing video games...

1: "Hey, you know how I know you're gay?"
2: "Shut up. That term paper's due. We have to come up with ideas."
posted by Avelwood at 1:20 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somehow I doubt the computer science department will fund the followup penile plethysmograph study.
posted by benzenedream at 1:36 PM on September 20, 2009


One trip to the Stata Center is enough to make you question your orientation.
posted by The Whelk at 1:37 PM on September 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


One trip to the Stata Center is enough to make you question your orientation.

Yeah ... particularly since it was designed by Frank Gehry. Get it? GAYhry. Uh huh huh huh."

\Beavis & Butt-head
posted by ericb at 2:12 PM on September 20, 2009


Biblio found a lost Twink in Gayville. Oh No!
Comment Like Play Gayville now!
posted by Biblio at 3:21 PM on September 20, 2009


My hugely scientific paper will explore if there is a way to tell if someone is deeply closeted but doesn't know it yet, just by the groups they're fans of.

That's too easy, and, really, too broad to be accurate. However, if you narrowed it to teen/adult male fans of the Jonas Brothers, the accuracy would probably increase substantially.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:37 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm kind of surprised that this project passed muster in the ethical review process, though I'm not a social scientist. If this were a project to predict potential terrorists based on their Facebook friends, I think people would be rather upset at the potential consequences.

That may be true, but at the very least you'd have a high-paying career with the NSA, and your project would mysteriously "disappear" from Facebook, publicly anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:40 PM on September 20, 2009


The Boston Globe thinks poorly validated undergraduate term projects are newsworthy?

Only if they're projects by MIT undergrads.
posted by thisjax at 5:05 PM on September 20, 2009


Humph. Clearly, MIT and Facebook are way behind Tivo, which had this technology in 2002.
posted by dhartung at 5:58 PM on September 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's a frightening prospect what individuals may eventually be able to use facebook for. I could see algorithms like this being used to single out people for a lot more than just being gay.

Thankfully most individuals who are intelligent are also peace-loving. Let's just hope they're both smart enough to be peace-loving, and know not to give something like this to the wrong people.
posted by mdpatrick at 6:04 PM on September 20, 2009


The algorithm would probably have me as gay because I made a Baby Jane and Pecker joke on this thread. And also because I am Twitter friends with Bruce LaBruce.

I mean, I'm not gay, but the evidence is mounting.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:11 PM on September 20, 2009


I mean, I'm not gay, but the evidence is mounting.

Your mouth says no but your tweets say yes.
posted by The Whelk at 6:18 PM on September 20, 2009


The mounting is evidence.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 6:50 PM on September 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


What possible use is gay identification anyway? Other than perhaps for gay men who are so shy that they can't, through asking, flirting, and observation, determine whether the Object of their Affection is gay; and yet are sufficiently un-shy that duly primed with this information, they will go do something about it. Of course this leaves the question of whether or not the guy in question is available ... and does nothing whatsoever to address the question of mutual attraction. (Although as an aside, that does seem to be less of an issue for gay men; in our culture it seems a gay man, like a straight woman, has to be pretty darn unattractive and unpleasant not to be able to get laid. Finding a high-quality life-mate is a whole other question of course.)

I suppose it's of interest to rabid gay-haters ... but the very principle itself works only in a society open enough to (a) have social media; (b) have out gay people for the possibly-closeted person of interest to be Facebook-friends with.

I guess that just leaves one category: the fruit-blind, but suspicious, wife or girlfriend of the closeted part-timer. And if she can't tell if her own husband is gay, it seems to me that she doesn't really know him, and is probably no good in the sack (at least to him) besides.

In summary it seems this is a solution to which no problem exists.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:04 PM on September 20, 2009


Dear "science/technology journalists":

There's this number called p. It states how likely you are to obtain results purely by chance that are comparable to, or more extreme than, your actual results. In other words, it tells you where the method sits on a scale from "knows all, tells all" to "just happened to guess right". In other words, if you don't find it and report it, you haven't told us anything. You might as well be parroting celebrity gossip.

Love and kisses,
Eritain
posted by eritain at 8:15 PM on September 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


On Facebook, my friends are all successful and attractive.

So much for that thesis.
posted by klangklangston at 9:43 PM on September 20, 2009


Alternate quip: I can tell by your Youtube comments whether you're gay.
posted by klangklangston at 9:44 PM on September 20, 2009


Also sometimes it is rude to ask 'are you gay?' so you should be careful.

So one time I was hot for this hot girl, and a new guy showed up at one of the events we all went to. He was athletic and really built, a rugby player, and of the same ethnicity as the girl, and so I worried he'd be competition, because he'd immediately notice how hot she was (she had really curly hair).

After everyone else left, it was just he and me, so I asked him if he wanted to get a drink.

While we were drinking, I "casually" asked him, "so, what do you think of $girl'sname?"

He replies, "Oh, she's nice."

Thinking he's blowing me off with a non-answer, a drink or two later I ask, "Yeah, but what do you think of $girl'sname?"

He again replies, "Oh, she's nice." No mention of the long curly hair. Or the great rack. Just this off-hand unconcerned answer/

So I ask again "no, really, what do you think of her?"

"Oh, she's nice."

Exasperated, I ask him, "What, are you gay?"

He answers, rather monotonically and lugubriously, "Yesssss". I am so relieved, so I respond, "Oh, cool." We get another beer.

We've been good friends ever since, for about ten years.
posted by orthogonality at 1:05 AM on September 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


I had a similar story, orthogonality.

A guy I work with was getting married and lots of us from the office were invited to the stag party. The party was close to where I lived, and my cube mate was not as familiar with the area, so he drove to my house and he and I drove over together. There was a stripper at the party and she was teh hawt.

After the party, as my cube mate and I were driving back to my place, I said, "So, that stripper was pretty hot."

To which he replied, "Yeah, if you like that sort of thing."

"You didn't think she was hot?"

"Well, she's not exactly my type."

"She was gorgeous! How could she not be your type?"

"I like boys."

"...."

"..."

Monday morning it was back to work as usual. He was my first... I mean as in the first person I actually knew was gay." We had a long friendship after that, even after I left that place of employment and moved halfway across the country.

I really need to look him up again....
posted by Doohickie at 7:50 PM on September 21, 2009


This Gaydar technique is an epic fail. The government already has *much* better ways to tell if you're gay starting with guys who make lots of google searches for "free gay porn."
posted by Pseudology at 9:04 PM on September 21, 2009


I read this book once that gave a nearly 100% accurate way to tell if a guy is gay: Does his cock taste like shit? The book was truly an intellectual treasure, titled "Truly Tasteless Jokes". Oh, to be fair, the question was how to tell if your roommate is gay.

It's funny, in a way. I've never been all that deeply concerned with the sexual orientation of other guys. For me, the question has generally been either "Can I have them? (without negative consequences)", which, at the time, was a set very much larger than just gay. I was a teen then, and found an amazing number of non-gay men were quite happy with what I wanted to do to them. Latter, the question became "Long-term potential?".
posted by Goofyy at 12:40 AM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


A gay friend of mine has occasionally complained that as a gay man he has no trouble whatsoever getting laid, but finds it very difficult to form long-term relationships. I would sympathize ... but generally speaking most straight men also find it difficult to form long-term relationships, and must do without the comfort of the first part.

I've occasionally wondered to what degree homophobia is motivated by envy. Men are easy.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:15 PM on September 29, 2009


Envy, jealousy, and a puritanical certitude that it must be wrong that those queers have so much easy-going pleasure. And before AIDS, it was without many consequences. I think it very much connects to the notion of babies-as-punishment that comes up in discussions of abortion.

It blows my mind, looking back, how very loud was the message that sex makes babies, and that's BAD, when I was just 12. I quickly came to the conclusion that my being gay was a huge advantage. The more I read about the issues straight folks have in their barnyard dance, the more amazed I am the human race hasn't gone extinct. Even given the effects of the 'sexual revolution', straight folks still spend way too much time denying themselves the pleasures of sex.
posted by Goofyy at 10:17 PM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


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