The guy who broke your gaydar

He's the man of your dreams, except for one little problem. This week members of Salon's reader community, Table Talk, remember the men they lusted for in vain.

By Salon Staff
Published February 9, 2007 11:32AM (EST)

Private Life

To All The Gays I've Loved Before

tjcj -- 12:01 pm Pacific Time -- Feb 2, 2007 -- #1 of 82

We've all done it, fell in love with the perfect man ... he's gay.

hedy - 12:12 pm Pacific Time -- Feb 2, 2007 -- #2 of 82

dale. he was tall, thin and blond. he dressed mostly in white (save for the black combat boots) and wore oscar. he used blue eyeliner and mascara and blushed his high cheekbones, and he had the slightest overbite peeking from between his lightly glossed lips. we used to make out and eat Frusen Glädjé. he said he wasn't gay.

he'd hold my hand as we skipped around downtown. he danced like nobody's business to wham! and bronski beat. i swear i felt his penis once, but as i said -- he said he wasn't gay. to this day, when i smell that perfume i get a little funny in my belly.

GaudyNight - 12:46 pm Pacific Time -- Feb 2, 2007 -- #6 of 82

The English Indiscretion That Wasn't. I was on junior year abroad in Oxford, in a long-distance relationship, and my surplus flirtation energy fixed itself on him. Red hair, blue eyes, younger than me, didn't even come out to himself until we had known each other for several months. Fairly obnoxious person, at least at the time (it's hard to hold the sins of pretentious undergraduates against them), but hilarious and cute. We sang together in a college chapel choir where pretty much everybody was to some degree confused about their voice part and/or sexual identity. We flirted heavily and harmlessly through an Oxford spring (and Oxford springs pretty much require flirtation partners). I had to tell him I had a crush on him twice, because the first time he was so drunk (at the College ball) he didn't remember it. We would go punting together in a group and afterwards an older Australian graduate student, an experienced queer, would take Redheaded Boy to Accessorize to teach him the ways of gaydom. I told my long-term S.O. all about it all as it was happening, but the whole experience still made me realize that the longest I should ever be away from my S.O. is three months; after that, my brain decides he no longer exists and that I should become overly emotionally involved with redheaded gay boys.

perri_m -- 01:10 pm Pacific Time -- Feb 2, 2007 -- #8 of 82

He made my heart stop. He was the last thing on my mind when I went to sleep at night, and the first thing on it when I woke up in the morning. Stevie Wonder could've seen what I couldn't. Only in hindsight did his overzealous reactions to the penis toys we saw in the sex shop make a lot of sense.

These days my gaydar is accurate to within fractions of a mile.

Vinca Minor -- 08:20 pm Pacific Time -- Feb 2, 2007 -- #28 of 82

In junior high school my gaydar was in retrograde and I developed crush after crush on sweet, smart, funny boys who were, I think, just discovering that they liked the same boys I did in much the same way, but more successfully. I gave this up and concentrated on being funny and nasty. Not surprisingly, this made me temporarily popular amongst the girls and not at all with the guys, who had a hard enough time head-butting and butt-towel-whacking in the locker rooms without keeping company with something whip-tongued and abrasive in the halls outside. I became asexual and remained so until I married, pretty much.

Fast forward to my thirties, when I met the guy who has been my best friend on and off for nearly twenty years. He's almost exactly my type, dark, furry, easygoing, geeky-smart, mad for learning new things and basically a very decent, moral person. He and I met our respective long-term mates within a day of each other, though his marriage has endured longer. We trade recipes, cook dinners together, shop 'til we drop, garden, walk dogs, build things and gossip. Clueless acquaintances, salespeople and art gallery owners assume we're a long-married couple. His husband and I joke that if my friend and I weren't the wrong sex for each other we'd be forced to marry not only by natural suitability but by the weight of public opinion.

I'd absolutely be in favor of a sort of marriage between people like us. It reminds me of a custom in a science fiction novelette I read once in which members of different species would have formal quasi-marital alliances with each other based on social and intellectual attraction while having mates of their own species. Gimme that petition.

Verbal Remedy - 02:58 pm Pacific Time -- Feb 4, 2007 -- #36 of 82

Sign me up for the petition, too.

My (never confirmed but Oh My God Of COURSE He Was Gay You Idiot) high school crush was also a Michael. A Michael with a very distinctive, eastern European ethnic last name. A name that you'd figure you'd be able to manage to hit with a Google search ... but no, my Michael, wherever he may be, remains quite invisible on the Electronosphere lo all these years.

We met waiting for the school bus to take us home. We lived in a town with too many students and not enough buses, and we were on "second run." So for an hour after school, each day, several of us had to sit around and kill time waiting for the bus.

To pitch in on the amusement front, Mike wrote and illustrated fabulously twisted mini-graphic novels (the kind that get a kid expelled today) -- highly stylized caricatures of "killer cheerleaders," standing over the dismembered bodies of the idiot jocks, that sort of thing. He had a wicked, wicked sense of humor. Incredible artistic talent. And the deepest, brownest hot-chocolate eyes. We did theater together (I acted, he did set decoration. [slaps own forehead])

Between our freshman and sophomore years, he dropped a TON of weight -- something like 45 lbs. (Now, let it be known, my friends, that I developed my deep and abiding crush on Mike when he was still soft and round and cushy.) My jaw dropped. He'd become GORGEOUS.

It was a difficult couple of years for me, lusting after him so badly, him, er, "Not taking the hint." There was one summer night after I'd gotten my driver's license, and we'd been cruising around with other friends, when I distinctly remember lying on the grass with him, under the stars, talking about Life, the Universe, and Everything, when he said something to the effect of "There are things about me you don't know that would make you hate me." (DUH! SOMEBODY GET A CLUESTICK FOR VERBAL!!!)

I assured him I would not, he insisted I would, and that conversation never happened. We drifted apart my junior and senior years, when I decided to date a real ass. But, uh, yeah. I'm pretty damned sure he was gay.

Strangely, 8 years or so ago now, I was at Ann Sather on Belmont in Chicago. I saw a guy across the room at a table that was obviously full of gay men, and I could swear, to this day, the guy I saw had to be Mike. (We grew up a hundred miles from Chicago, so it's not unlikely that he ended up there.) I regret to this day not going over to the table and making a fool of myself. Why didn't I just walk over and say, "Mike EastEuroLastName?" How difficult could it have been?

ETA, my experiences with those two men are jointly responsible for my exquisite Gaydar, the precision and accuracy of which are among the top 1 percent of all Gaydars tested by Consumer Reports.

Frieda Gene -- 09:48 pm Pacific Time -- Feb 4, 2007 -- #40 of 82

I've found my home. So the first time it ever happened to me (that I am aware of) was in college. We were both R.A.s in the dorm so I had this little fantasy of us being mom and dad to 200 18-year-olds. He had curly, honey-hued hair and a smokin' hot bod. He was totally outdoorsy and not into theater or anything like that, so how was I to know? One night we went to a disco-themed party together (I was in costume, he was not), and I thought for sure this would be the hookup night. Right in the middle of the dance floor (he couldn't dance, either), a friend of his came up and asked him if he wanted to go outside and smoke some pot. He agreed, abandoning me on the dance floor. In the middle of "Dancing Queen"! He stayed at my parents' house one weekend while on a S.F.-to-L.A. bike ride for AIDS. My mom asked if he was gay, and I said of course not, straight people like to raise money for AIDS, too.

Fast-forward a few years. We discovered we were living in the same town post-graduation and he wanted to get together for dinner. I'm thinking, hookup night take two. We ate at a lovely Italian restaurant on the beach. He said to me, so are you seeing anyone? I got that oh-my-god-it's-finally-happening feeling. I said no, you? He said yeah, I've met this guy, I think we're really in love. He showed me pictures of the two of them riding elephants in Asia. I'd like to think he couldn't tell that I was devastated. At least he didn't abandon me to Abba on the dance floor because I'm hideous.

Here's the thing though, my gaydar still stinks. Rather, my friends tell me it's quite good, I'm just not aware of it. I could go to a Focus on the Family Super Bowl party and fall for the one gay guy there. I'm only going to date men to whom I'm not attracted, it's the only way.

skygge - 02:44 am Pacific Time -- Feb 5, 2007 -- #43 of 82

David. Smart. Gentle. Smart. Gifted organist. Theater major. Teacher. Opera lover. Smart. Every Friday night we'd have dinner together and go to the piano practice rooms and you'd whip out your ... Tosca, latest Sondheim, Gilbert and Sullivan (you taught me "Patience," for g*d's sake), or Carmen ... and we'd each sing parts (you were a tenor, of course, to my soprano) into the wee hours of the morning. Oh, David! You were the one who called me up, frantic, and breathlessly demanded I run to the store and buy "Sweeney Todd," and it was because of you I went to New York for the first time and heard the original cast actually sing it and learned to love the only real city in the world.

Oh, David. I lost contact with you right when I knew you were doing reckless things, when AIDS was beginning to kill off your brothers. I Google you occasionally but it's hopeless because your name is common (the only thing common about you). I look for your name on The Quilt when it passes by, hoping I'll never see it. If you're alive, I wish you a mate who brings you all the happiness I've found with mine. You deserve the most wonderful, elegant, kind, and smartest guy around. I hope you're snuggling up to him right now, and humming "A Little Night Music" in his ear, just to make him happy.

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