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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. This may require anything from a casual glance, to hearing the target speak, to near constant observation. In theory, a gaydar would detect straight people as well by process of elimination. In reality, the sheer amount of things people can be beside just "gay" vs. "straight" means no one's gaydar is perfect.

Can be confounded by the presence of a Camp Straight, but not always. Much depends on how much the gaydar depends on gay stereotypes.

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 LGBT Fanbase, 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 LGBT Fanbaseuse caution when calling Fan Yay on someone's Gaydar.

See also: Flying Under the Gaydar.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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 traveling with her for a year without realising, and she snarks that they can add gaydar to the other common senses he seems to lack. Although that said, the whole Gendercide thing and its logical consequences would play hell with even the most finely-tuned gaydar.

    Fan Works 
  • Bad Influence: According to Jetta's gaydar, the music journalist Lin-Z is so into Jem and the Holograms because she wants their lead, Jem, to herself.
  • Sei mentions in Metamorphosis that she could tell Yumi was lesbian virtually from the first time they met.
  • A Moon And World Apart: In chapter 9, Sunset is able to figure out that Onyx Plate is gay without being explicitly told. He's quite surprised when he realizes it.
  • Prequel, an Elder Scrolls fan-comic, humorously depicts gaydar as a magical ability inherent in homosexuals. It functions similarly to the "detect life" spells in the games, except it only highlights gay people, and in pink instead of red.
  • In Their Bond, Malon was able to tell that Link was gay due to his knowledge of fashion.

  • This exchange in the 1968 film The Detective:
    Colin McIver: How could you know?
    Teddy Leikman: We know each other. Something about the way you walked. Something about the eyes.
  • Bit: The vampires seem capable of telling instantly that Laurel is transgender, though it's not visually obvious at all, nor does she tell them.
  • Legally Blonde: A witness being gay is learned when he criticizes Elle's shoes as being out of season Pradas. Also, he's exposed by Emmett tricking him into denouncing his boyfriend who openly decries his lies in anger. "You Bitch," indeed.
  • Rough Night: Pippa quickly discerns that Blair was involved with Frankie. They get back together later.
  • Across the Universe: Lucy quickly observes Prudence's longing looks for Sadie and realizes she's a lesbian (Jude, on the other hand, is oblivious to it).

  • 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. Both were a result of wishes granted by his fairy godfather.
    • Interestingly, in Russia "Blue" (specifically, "light blue") is the euphemism for gay male.
    • The mundane version of the trope is also mentioned by name and discussed:
    "Gaydar. Automatic sensing system that lets you spot people of similar persuasion. A lot of gay guys have it to some degree or other. If it was more reliable, it make would life easier on us.''
  • In Earth (The Book), Jon Stewart explains that some humans had more than the standard 5 senses, one of which was called "gaydar". He admits that, while it was not very useful for survival, it did provide for hours of bitchy fun at parties.
  • In The Wheel of Time, Pevara Tazanovi, after spending some time with Emarin Pendaloan, is able to tell that he prefers men, and casually mentions this to his friend Androl during a discussion about relationships. Androl is flabbergasted.
  • In the third book of Sword of Truth, Richard is floored when he realizes two of his bodyguards, Raina and Berdine, are lovers. At the end of the book, Richard's girlfriend Kahlan meets them. When Berdine makes a dirty joke about Richard grabbing her breasts, Kahlan responds by saying her breasts are just perfect for Raina's hands. Richard is floored again that Kahlan was able to figure it out so easily.
  • In The Catcher in the Rye, Holder speaks of Carl Luce as a well-known gay man who can tell easily if a particular fellow man is gay and knows the names of every gay being in the country.
  • In One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, Ruby claims that she inherited a gaydar from her mother that's 100% accurate in detecting gay people and she does indeed figure out right away that Max, her father's assistant, is gay. However, it turns out that her gaydar completely missed that her own father is gay too.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Ser Jaime Lannister claims to have known that Lord Renly Baratheon was a "tulip" from the moment the boy first arrived at court.
    • Oberyn might need his checked since he seems flabbergasted that Varys the eunuch is asexual, though it works perfectly when he pursues Loras and Olyvar.
  • Inverted on Sherlock: Sherlock identifies a man as gay upon being introduced to him, much to the dismay of his girlfriend. It turns out that the man actually wasn't gay, but was intentionally giving off subtle gay signals since he is Moriarty, Sherlock's nemesis and a genius like him.
    • Sherlock also at one point thinks John is making romantic overtures toward him, indicating that this may be one of the few glaring holes in his powers of observation and deduction.
  • On The Office, Jim "helps" Dwight order a literal 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.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "The Killer in Me", 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?
    • In "Who Are You", Faith in Buffy's body could tell Willow and Tara were dating before anyone else did.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • South of Nowhere: Spencer and Ashley are talking about a girl who may or may not have hit on Spencer.
    Ashley: You are so clueless sometimes. You know she is gay, right?
    Spencer: What? She is not. You need to reboot your gaydar.
    Ashley: Whatever. I just hope it is better than your breeder-meter.
    Spencer: Why is it that every gay person are so sure that everyone else is gay?
    Ashley: Oh, not everyone. Just the gay ones.
  • On Smash, Ivy says Tom's gaydar is stupid when she tells him that her sports-loving friend Sam is gay.
    Tom: He’s gay?!
    Ivy: Where have you been?
    Tom: Why didn’t you tell me?
    Ivy: Who knew your gaydar was so stupid?
    Tom: My gaydar is not stupid. I do not have stupid gaydar. Ugh, I hate that word.
  • A recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live is about Nicole, "The Girl with No Gaydar." She is always marvelling at a man's interior design sense or similar stereotypically gay interest while being oblivious to their gayness.
  • Thirteen actually uses the word in an episode of House when trying to diagnose a patient, claiming that it has never been wrong. Except it turns out to be wrong in this case, as the "female" patient is actually a heterosexual male.
  • The "Blind Spot" episode of Fresh Off the Boat revolves around Louis Huang having a perfectly functional gaydar while his wife Jessica's is utterly broken... then again, he's got a broken love-dar.
  • In one episode of NCIS, Tony claims that McGee set off a whole bunch of gaydars by mentioning his sensitive cuticles. Gibbs also spends one scene admiring McGee's "feminine glow."
  • Das Boot: Despite claiming she didn't know Simone is a lesbian, Carla appears to realize her advances would be reciprocated as she had little hesitation about kissing her. After this they have sex with the same alacrity.
  • Party of Five (2020): Lucia's mom very quickly discerns that she's into women after just a single slip of the tongue, due to her speaking about one before in a worshipful way.
  • On Schitt's Creek ever confident Alexis Rose tells her brother David that if a man doesn't ask for her number, he's either newly married or he's gay. She applies this to David's new business partner and single man, Patrick. David, on the other hand insists that a man who wears straight-legged, mid-range denim cannot be into him. Turns out, Alexis is right and David eventually marries Straight Gay Patrick.
  • Never Have I Ever:
    • Eve instantly discerns that Fabiola is gay, probably due to her longing look, inviting her to an LGBT youth event. This is before Fabiola herself realizes. They later start dating.
    • Joyce realizes that Fab's gay instantly, saying her gaydar is quite good due to having dated Nathan Lane before.
  • Trinkets: Elodie thinks Jillian might be gay, but isn't sure, and feels things out (such as bringing up Sally Reid, the first LGBT astronaut). It turns out that Jillian is gay and interested in Elodie, though still closeted then.
  • We Are Who We Are: Sarah seems to realize before Caitlin says anything that she's questioning her gender identity, possibly in fact being a transgender boy.
  • Tipping the Velvet: Nan seems to sense, or at least hope, that Flo is a lesbian like her. At first she thinks she's mistaken as Florence seems to be married with a child. It turns out that's her brother, while the child is one they adopted. Later it's confirmed that Florence really is a lesbian, and the two get involved.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Katheryn correctly calls Benedict being gay and cites that she 'just has a feeling' when asked to explain. She does imply that there's more to it, though.

  • Elle's gaydar in Legally Blonde helps her discredit a witness by proving he wasn't having an affair with a defendant. What tips her off is when he doesn't react to the "bend & snap", but a heated discussion with co-counsel ensues about whether other traits mark him as "Gay or European". He's both.
  • In A Very Potter Sequel, the Hogwarts Students have to try on the Scarf of Sexual Preference after the Sorting Hat.

    Visual Novels 
  • Zigzagged in Max's Big Bust: A Captain Nekorai Tale. Max is fairly fast to clue in on the fact that Amber and Victoria are both gay on their routes though she pretends not to notice Amber's attraction at first since she's afraid that she'll be turning back into a guy soon and doesn't want to start a relationship that will instantly end due to Incompatable Orientation. However, she completely misses that Holly, who's far more obvious about being attracted to women is also gay until Holly explicitly tells her on Holly's route.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Sherry has the ability to read people's body language to absurd specificity. When meeting the "Triplets", one of the things she picks up on is that Ohio is a lesbian. And mind, this is while they're far enough apart that they have to yell back and forth to communicate.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Bender from Futurama has an 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.
  • On The Simpsons, Homer is tasked by Marge with finding a potential suitor for either Patty or Selma. When he assesses Principal Skinner, he notes, "Possible Homer Sexual."
  • It's implied in The Owl House that Willow is the only one to have picked up on the fact that Amity is in love with Luz. The fact that she's the daughter of a gay couple probably helps.

    Real Life 
  • 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. It can be easy for out trans people to spot closeted ones — common signs include an obsession with gender transformation, excessive daydreaming, being really really really into yaoi (for female-assigned folks) or yuri (male-assigned folks), crossplaying at every opportunity, and having a whole lot of trans friends.
  • 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.
  • A 2005 study had discovered that people can smell people's sexual orientation by body odor. For homosexual male participants, there was a consistent preference for homosexual males over heterosexual males or homosexual females, under the forced-choice paradigm. This suggests that smell is one way of how the gaydar could work.


Video Example(s):


Dr. Insano's Gayder

As it turns out, Dr. Insano has a working gayder, which self-destructs, while analysing the effeminate French stereotype from Beastmaster 2. When Spoony questions why he would even need such a device, Insano evades the question.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / Gaydar

Media sources:

Main / Gaydar