You know that friend you have who always gets drunk and brags about how she has this, "like, I dunno, kinda psychic, I guess" ability to determine if dudes are gay? And whenever she does this, you kind of roll your eyes and lecture her for adhering to a heteronormative view of human sexuality, until her predictions about your former high-school boyfriend are validated when he starts posting Facebook photos of himself and his current partner gamboling on the beaches of Mykonos? Well, the next time this happens, you can tell her to suck it, because researchers at Albright College believe they've pinpointed the science behind "gaydar," and it has nothing to do with being "like, I dunno, kinda psychic, I guess."
According to the study, facial symmetry, or the proportions of a person's individual features, may influence others' perceptions of an individual's sexual orientation. By showing subjects photographs of sixty self-identified, homo- or heterosexual men and women, researchers found that they were more likely to guess that the men in the photos were homosexual if their facial features were less symmetrical (the same trend applied to the women in the photos as well, although the results were less statistically significant). Lead researcher Dr. Susan Hughes says that her team concluded "individuals use cues of symmetry to make assessments about one's sexual orientation, and may be one of the features that comprise a person's 'gaydar' abilities."
Hughes also says that the ability to assess sexual orientation may be an adaptive trait, so women can suss out potential mates and potential non-mates. So how do these findings jibe with us uber-enlightened, non-heteronormative human-sexuality experts? Is determining someone's sexuality by analyzing the symmetry of their facial features akin to determining whether or not someone likes, say, the Pixies, by feeling the bumps on their head? Should single women in cities with large gay populations start carrying around tape measures on their brunch dates? And, most importantly, are people who claim impeccable gaydar "like, kinda psychic" or "like, kinda stupid"? So many questions and so few answers.