"Gaydar" is instinctual and more accurate for women's faces, according to a recent study, in which psychology grad students at the University of Washington asked undergraduates to determine whether close-up photos of young men and women sans "embellishments" (such as facial hair or piercings; you know, gay stuff) were gay or straight. But we're more interested in why psychologists are so fascinated by gaydar in the first place.
The research reminded us of another recent study that looked at how people perceived sexual orientation based on facial symmetry and proportions. (Apparently, the more symmetrical a guy is, the more straight he seems.) LiveScience has a breakdown of some other attempts at gaydar analysis. But do we really need study after study about whether gaydar is real or not? And do these types of studies perpetuate discriminatory stereotypes, even when they're based on good intentions, like the first study, which the lead author said helps combat "Don't Ask Don't Tell" types of arguments against anti-discrimination policies? We asked some of our friends who identify as gay or queer what they thought.