Off the Gaydar

I hate having a crush…I really do. I generally feel competent and in control – the guy whose holding the reins of his own life and setting his own course. But the mix up and lack of emotional and mental control just utterly removes me from that welcome illusion and shows me just how chaotic my mind really is. I hate it as much as I love the change of pace, because I rarely get crushes. Generally, I’m physically attracted to someone for a length of time, and then that fades, but a crush, as we all know, is a lot more insistent.

It’s worse when you’re gay, because it’s not quite as simple as outright saying "hey, I think we click. Want to go out and grab a coffee sometime?" There’s always that chance with men you’ll hit the button that demands we assert our heterosexuality and get an overcompensation response. Granted, I speak from hearsay, rather than experience, but it’s possible. Me, I usually wait until I’m 110% sure if they don’t make the first move, before I ever do. Consequences of being closeted for as long as I have bee. But sure, sometimes it IS as simple as saying "hey, I think we click. Want to go out and grab a coffee sometime?" Living in Austin, I would be far less afraid of such a reaction in an anternative town like that. Plus, the friends I make (and people I’m attracted to) are generally chill and laid back, and would probably take it as a complement in stride, anyways. But China? Until 2004, homosexuality was a treatable mental illness. I haven’t explored public perception of "gayness" beyond that of a single Chinese person whose spent years living in Australia, so I know his views are somewhat "alternative" compared to the Chinese norm. Unfortunately, I don’t have the language skills yet to determine how the average person takes to homosexuality. Do I test it on my crush?

It’s worse when you’re in another culture. It’s weird, because the social etiquette rules are not the same as they are back home. Asia is SUCH a curveball for my gaydar, I swear…Sometimes it’s obvious, other times I’m utterly clueless. I’ve met a couple of wrist-wagging queenish-types that were obvious, if not all that attractive. (Well, one was, but I had 10 minutes till work and I didn’t have time to try and piece together a conversation with my limited Chinese…A fish that got away) What throws me off most is the eye contact. In America, I’m tall and all, but I don’t get much more than a single glance. Having someone do a series of double-takes down a street generally indicates more than passing interest. The problem in China is that EVERYONE is doing the double-takes because I’m so damn foreign. Direct eye contact with shy smiles isn’t physical attraction, it’s idle curiosity. Couple this with the increased physical contact – same-sex touching is entirely normal – and it’s a recipe for gaydar disaster. My mind assures me this attractive guy whose been watching me read for a few minutes on the bus, smiling warmly, that just exchanged seats to come over and stroke my arm and look me in the eyes and ask me a ton of personal questions is into me. And then he says it was nice to meet you, and gets off at his stop, leaving me in an aroused state of general frustration.

It’s worse when the object of your affection is a co-worker. Because then you can’t escape it – everytime you interact with them, you second guess every part of your interaction. Oh, how did they take what I just said? That sounded dumb…Why didn’t they laugh? They didn’t make that much eye contact either…Did I just insult them? I bet I did…Crap! I better play aloof and not smile so much everytime I see them – they’ll think I’m into them, and I don’t want to creep them out. They’re on break – and I can see them across the room. Do I stay? Do I leave? I better not stare – but I don’t want to ignore them either. Crap, now I can’t look natural, glancing across the room – are they noticing me trying NOT to stare? CRAP!!! Then suddenly, you realize you’ve been working on autopilot for 20 full seconds and have accomplished nothing of substance. That’s when you turn the corner and walk smack into the person you’ve been brooding about.

It’s worse when said crush doesn’t speak your language. Having an excuse to get to know them as a language partner is great, but it’s hard to gauge your plays when you almost always need an intermediary in the form of entirely straight bilingual co-workers whenever you want to hang out. But when you do – wow, he’s funny and he thinks you are, too! And even between your two f’ed up language skills, you get plenty of laughs – imagine if one of you became fluent.

It’s worse when your fucked up gaydar continues to get mixed signals and puts a positive spin on any potential negative. He doesn’t light up or anything when I’m around at work…Maybe he’s playing it cool – he’s Chinese, after all, and they’re a lot less open about homosexuality. So I’m told. But off of work, it’s the exact opposite! He doesn’t have much to say when he’s around. Neither do you – and your Chinese is better than his English, so it makes sense. He asked you about girls and your type – he’s fishing like all the other bi-guys you’ve known, obviously – feeling you out.

It’s worse when you get genuinely positive messages and aren’t sure what to do with them. Getting a glance at his junk in the bathroom when we were both drunk at Chuar and having him comment on mine was surely a positive. Or maybe we were just drunk and he thought it was funny. He wants to do Chuar and pool again next Tuesday. The Chinese name he wants me to call him is "Uncle." (he’s got a decade on me). He’s said twice he  thinks you’re awesome (paraphrasing but not too much, in fact) and wants to travel, chat and generally hang with you because he likes you. Maybe he just likes you as a friend.

It’s worse when you are generally attracted to non-flamboyant, straight-acting types to begin with. I have an excellent sense when it comes to bisexual/curious guys…In the West. But here? Aiyah…My intellect tells me I’m setting myself up for awkward disaster. My heart (read: loins) refuse to get the memo.

Categories: china, gay, Uncategorized


  1. I wish I could help. I’m lost when it comes to more traditional relationships so I have no idea how to help you with yours.

    That being said, I’ll gladly be your wingman in China when I show up, open and up front, ask people right out for you, then tell them “Oh, not for me. NO, for that attractive tall man over there; the one you’ve been making eyes at all night.”

    That being said, you send me your heartbroken women. 😉

    Doesn’t help with the crush. You’re kinda on your own there. Good luck though.

    • I might not need it – the first time coming out to Chinese friend was pretty painless. Still…They’re my co-workers, so I wonder how much time it will take for word to trickle through the ranks.

      I give it a week. Better get here while I still have ladies actually interested in me.

  2. I’m curious, and maybe you mentioned it and I missed it, but does this guy know you’re gay? Because if he does, and he’s still being all, “wow, awesome penis, dude,” I would tend think that supports the “into-you hypothesis”(tm).

    • Well, he didn’t know until last night. Now he does. We’ll see if it comes up again – despite me finishing my last post with “I’m pretty sure he’s NOT into me,” we were laughing about women and whether they’d be impressed by our respective junk (drunk guys, whaddaya want) and he kept saying to me “so come and see” everytime he’d go to the bathroom, knowing full well I was gay. So the second time around, I called his bluff in front of his friends, said “let’s see, then,” and followed him but he motioned for me to go in first. Don’t drop the soap?…Not sure. It was a one-person bathroom anyways. In any case, he sure got used to that fact fast, if he didn’t already suspect before I told him…

      Bi-curious guys are so annoying and I’ve known many. Don’t know why I go for it – maybe I identify with their struggle on some level. Must assert heterosexuality but I reeeally don’t want to completely throw out the possibility of fun so I’ll just keep dangling that carrot until you show too much interest, then yank it away… (simile not entirely intended but entirely amusing)

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