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"It measures gayness. With science."—Doctor Insano, The Spoony Experiment
The ability to determine a person's sexual orientation without being explicitly told -- or rather, the ability to detect gay people who haven't outed themselves to you. (Gaydar presumably can detect straight people as well by process of elimination; but in media depictions, it generally isn't.) This may require anything from a casual glance, to hearing the target speak, to near constant observation.
Can also rely heavily on an observer's common wisdom and intuition based on life experience, with good gaydar being measured by its probability of success, making this Truth in Television. (Compare Transparent Closet for gaydar's easiest detections.)
The term is a combination of the words "gay" and "radar".
This trope can be very close to Fan Yay, especially where an observer likes what they see, is using Shipping Goggles, or otherwise is practicing some form of wishful thinking. But just as often, Gaydar can be perfectly sincere audience interpretation, whether or not there is also Fan Yay -- use caution when calling Fan Yay on someone's Gaydar.
See also: Flying Under the Gaydar.
Anime & Manga
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Abridged Series changes Bakura's Millennium Item detection ability into a Gaydar.
- Ryou from Strawberry Shake Sweet has a rather powerful one; she can instantly tell the sexuality of a woman with just a mere glance and can also apparently tell when a lesbian has officially come to terms with her sexuality.
- Y: The Last Man: Dr Mann mentions that an old colleague of Agent 355's reminds her of an ex. When Yorick asks "She reminds you of an ex-boyfriend?", Dr Mann points out that's not what she said. One Beat Panel later, Yorick expresses disbelief at how he's been travelling with her for a year without realising, and she mentions that they can add gaydar to the other common senses he seems to lack.
- In a post-gendercide world, where no one is having heterosexual sex, any gaydar is probably picking up nothing but static.
- In the short story "Am I Blue?", the main character gets a form of this, identifying gay people by the color blue. Also in the short story, everyone from coast to coast gets a form of this too, for twenty-four hours.
- Interestingly, in Russia "Blue" is the euphemism for gay male.
Live Action Television
- On Sherlock Sherlock is able to tell a man is gay just by being introduced to him, much to the dismay of his girlfriend.
- Though in a nice twist, the man actually isn't gay, but was intentionally giving off subtle gay signals since he is Moriarty, Sherlock's nemesis and a genius like him.
- On The Office (American), Jim "helps" Dwight order Gaydar online so he can help Michael avoid embarrassing gay employees in the future. At the end of the episode, the fake gaydar (actually a metal detector) arrives and of course, identifies Dwight as gay (and his belt buckle as metal).
- A The Daily Show segment had Ed Helms invent one, detecting background levels of gayness via increasingly campy phrases. He said that since it worked as a radar for gayness, he'd call it a "Homometer."
- By the way, it's pronounced 'Hoe-MAW-me-ter'.
- A bit fuzzy on the details, but it is used to detect heterosexuality in one episode of MTV's Undressed. A woman in college is concerned that her boyfriend isn't sleeping with her, so she goes to a gay friend who, after asking her a few questions about her, decides that he is definitely straight.
- Mentioned in Friends. Chandler's gay coworker implies that this is how he knew Chandler wasn't gay.
Chandler: So- you can tell?
Lowell: Pretty much, most of the time. We have a kind of... radar.
- In a Season 7 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Willow tells Kennedy she wishes that she had some sort of "lesbidar".
Kennedy You do know there's a much better word for that, right?
- Glee: Santana. This is how she figures Karofsky out.
Santana: I'm a closet lesbian and a judgemental bitch - which means one thing: I have awesome gaydar.
- It also helps that he was blatantly checking out Sam's ass.
- He was checking out his jeans!
- Nate claims to have this in an early episode of Six Feet Under after effectively fixing his gay brother up on a date. David tells him not to say it again.
- There used to be a reality show Called Gay, Straight, or Taken? where single women would spend some time with three men and try to use their gaydar to figure out which one was gay, straight and single, or straight and taken.
- On the American Life On Mars, Annie has figured out that a man they're questioning is gay, listing several behavioral cues she'd noticed during questioning that Sam was oblivious to.
Sam: Women always have better gaydar.
Annie: "Gaydar." I like that.
- Roll from Bob and George says she has this, but if this works or not depends on if you believe X and Zero are actually gay or just Heterosexual Life Partners.
- Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has the page picture showing how it can be used for actual emergency navigation.
- Under comments in news section "This is the navy we're talking about here, there'd be too much interference from the crew."
- Referred by name in this Misfile strip. Kinda subverted as the 'gay' there is actually a boy turned into a girl.
- There's a literal gaydar in I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space!!!
- Beth from Better Days claims to have an exceptional gaydar. It's an Informed Ability though, since there aren't any gay people in the comic, except for Flounce and he and Beth have no interaction.
- Saundra of Umlaut House once built one, it blew up when she tested it on Rick and gave an inconsistent reading when she tried it on Volair
- Denmark claims to get this after five beers in Scandinavia and The World. Sweden thinks he is just listing all the women he wants to see have lesbian sex.
- Spinnerette wishes her spider senses came with gaydar in this strip.
- Homestuck: Roxy claims to have one that is very oversensitive, as a counterpart to Jane who doesn't have one at all.
TG: my gaydar is like the exanct fuckin poposite of urs
TG: which is to say it is better than completety nonexistant
TG: mine is so sensitive it has been used to sweep the ocean floor for mythical sea monsters
TG: turns out
TG: all of those monsters are SO gay
TG: truth B)
- Dr. Insano has one as shown in Spoony's review of Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time. An effeminate French stereotype causes it to self-destruct. When Spoony asks why Insano would ever need a gaydar, Insano evades the question. In the commentary for that review, Spoony reveals that this caused fans to suspect that Insano was gay himself.
- Bender in Futurama has actual gaydar. Whether it works or not is questionable.
- Stan from American Dad also has one, but it didn't seem to work since it kept pointing at [straight] even when he was talking to a gay guy,
- Various studies indicate people really can identify the sexuality of men from just photos at a level greater than chance, even when things like facial hair, jewelry and hairstyle are controlled for.
- Though not completely related, there's the "transdar". It's mostly related to whether a person "passes" or not, or how they behave pre-transition.
- There's the suggestion that the greater exposure and acceptance of gay people in society increases the odds of a person correctly identifying someone who is gay because of the acceptance that gay people actually exist and don't all look like drag queens. People from a less open culture (or an older generation) are less likely recognize someone as being gay because it's hard to recognize something that you refuse to accept.