You’ve seen a girl. She’s cute, she’s funny, she listens to exactly the same kind of music as you and when she looks at you it’s as if you’ve been living without the sun until now. Trouble is, you can’t quite figure out if she’s…you know…gay.
Unless this is the start of some sort of real-life romcom, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to tell just from the length of her fingernails or whether she’s always sporting a leather jacket. The fact is, much as the L Word doesn’t want to admit it, queer women can’t be squished into a handy checklist. While many queer women might fit every trait on the list, most won’t. So, what do you do when you need to figure out if she’s a ‘Tegan and Sara fan’ or if she just likes Canadian pop duos? (There’s another harmful stereotype for you. Although I do actually like Tegan and Sara…)
This one might be a little daunting for most of us. The idea of just marching up to a woman and demanding she tell you her sexuality does seem vaguely terrifying, not to mention a bit threatening. If you know the person well, then asking might be a more viable option. If your friend doesn’t already know you’re queer, maybe you could come out to them and see how they react. They very well may feel inclined to come out right back, though if they don’t, please don’t a) take this to mean they’re 100% straight or b) attempt to pressure them in to coming out. (DISCLAIMER: NEVER pressure anyone in to coming out, even if you know for sure they’re gay.)
If they do know you’re queer, ask them if they’d ever consider dating a woman. Again, if it’s a no, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re straight, but it DOES mean they’re not ready to come out yet and you should maybe move on to someone more available. If they would consider it, there’s your opening.
I wouldn’t advise using this method on anyone you’re not particularly close with, which brings us to option number two…
Bring Up Hot Women
Okay, hotness is subjective, and I know not every woman is going to be attracted to the same type of person. BUT STILL. Talk about Ellen Page or Gillian Anderson or Kate Mckinnon. Mention Cate Blanchett in Carol. Don’t bother bringing up Ruby Rose. Apparently, all the straight girls are gay for Ruby Rose.
Does your crush rant about how she wishes she had hair like Kate Mckinnon or Gillian Anderson’s cheekbones? If it sounds like she’s attempting to steal their body parts, she’s wishing she could BE them, not be WITH them. If, on the other hand, she talks about how hot they are, or how cute they are, or how they make her go all squirmy in her stomach, she might just be gay. This is not, I repeat NOT, an exact method. But it might open the conversation up to queerness. See where it goes.
Ask About Her Ideal Partner
My very blonde girlfriend used this one to gauge how I felt and I, completely oblivious to anything ever, said I wasn’t really into blondes. Good going, India. You really deserve a pat on the back for that one.
BUT, to get back to the point, asking someone what their preferences are through a girly, gossipy question, might make things a little easier. Don’t rule it out if she starts talking about her perfect man, all dark hair and green eyes and lightning-shaped scar, because bisexual women exist and who doesn’t still have a bit of a thing for Daniel Radcliffe in his angsty Harry Potter years? She might straight up say that her ideal partner is a woman and there you go, you’ve got your answer. Like the previous method, this isn’t exact and may not produce results you can use, but it might. Worth a try, really. It worked for my girlfriend, eventually, after all.
Find Out Their Opinions
If the woman you like is vehemently homophobic, or even just thinks gays are probs going to hell, the likelihood is that they won’t date you. They may be repressing their own queerness, but is that really a situation you want to embroil yourself in? If you don’t know their opinions, ask. ‘Did you hear about Brendon Urie coming out?’ is always a good conversation starter, or else, ‘Have you ever watched Queer Eye?’. If they say, ‘Well duh’ or ‘I just binge-watched both seasons and CAN YOU EVEN?’ then you’re probably safe. If they say, ‘gross’ or ‘isn’t that the show with all the homos’ or ‘Leviticus 18:22 says…’ then you should probably run a mile.
There’s no certain way to know if someone is queer without them coming out with it (pun unintended). If you’ve tried everything and you’re still not sure, sometimes the best thing to do is just go for it. Ask them out, in a safe, neutral place. If they’re not queer, they’ll probably be flattered. If they are…well, you might just be in with a chance.