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Gay or straight? Watch his walk

[bold]New study suggests body movement gives clues to sexual orientation[/bold]

Is he gay or straight? At a glance, the key to telling might be in the way he walks.

A swing of the hips or a swaggered shoulder is enough for many casual observers to identify a manx92s sexual orientation, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Observers were only able to accurately guess the sexual orientation of men; with women, their guesses didnx92t exceed chance. But whatx92s most interesting to researchers is understanding how that snap judgment can unleash a series of stereotypes x97 even from the most liberal-minded.

x93This is important for the understanding of perception and feelings of assumptions and bias,x94 says lead author Kerri Johnson, an assistant professor of communications at the University of California, Los Angeles. x93Once you know an individualx92s sexual orientation, every else that happens is seen through that lens.x94

Johnson and her colleagues attached motion sensors, like those used in the movie industry, to the hips and shoulders of eight volunteers x96 four men and four women, half of whom were gay. The motion sensors captured the only movements of the walkers, masking details such as clothing or hairstyles.

The researchers videotaped the volunteers walking on a treadmill at various speeds, and then played the video for 150 undergraduate observers, who were asked to determine the sexual orientation of each person.

[bold]Observers' accuracy[/bold]

As the gay men walked, they slightly swayed their hips. The observers were accurate in assessing the men's sexual orientation a little more than 60 percent of the time.

x93Therex92s reason to think that gay people canx92t conceal their homosexuality,x94 says Michael Bailey, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University. x93I donx92t think itx92s a performance that gay people enact. I think itx92s something that either is inborn, or itx92s acquired very early, perhaps by watching members of the other sex.x94

Research such as Johnson's may give scientific credence to "gaydar," suggesting that people really can tell whether someone is gay or straight from visual clues.

As the lesbians walked, they slightly moved their shoulders back and forth x97 Johnson calls it a less exaggerated version of an Arnold Schwarzenegger-type swagger.

But when it came to identifying the sexual orientation of the women, it was all up to chance.

x93Women in our society are permitted a greater latitude of behaviors,x94 Johnson says. x93Theyx92re able to act in masculine ways , and adopt traditional masculine roles. Thatx92s been happening since the x9260s.

x93Wex92re a society that permits women to do this, in fact, celebrates women who do this,x94 she continues. x93But we punish men for [adopting feminine traits]."

Johnson jokes that shex92s often been called a x93menx92s libber,x94 but she hopes her research will provide a foundation to explore those types of gender biases.

The findings arenx92t meant to be used as a diagnostic test, Johnson says. In other words, donx92t use her research to out someone. But although the research is getting attention for its results about a distinction in how gay men walk, Johnson and her colleagues were more focused on studying the observers.

x93If we know how people use these cues to categorize one another, it can help us understand what happens in how they react with other people,x94 Johnson says.

That quick assessment can mean that the observer is associating that person with stereotypes they've heard x97 for example, that a gay man isn't as masculine as a straight man. Next, Johnson plans to study the implications of judging someone's sexuality by those visual clues.

Even if wex92ve unconsciously identified a personx92s sexual orientation, it can affect how we treat that person, says Gerulf Rieger, a lecturer of psychology at Northwestern University. Rieger has worked on similar research projects that deal with people identifying someonex92s sexual orientation when given very little information.

x93We can pick these signals up; we can tell whox92s gay and whox92s not,x94 Rieger says. x93Understanding how people differ, and accepting those [genetic] differences, can only help tolerance.x94

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by Anonymousreply 42January 25, 2008 3:21 PM

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard...

by Anonymousreply 1September 14, 2007 5:19 AM

Why don't they tell us something we don't know.

by Anonymousreply 2September 14, 2007 5:21 AM

I can pick out at least a half a dozen friends of mine that could walk by these people and they'd never peg them as gay from the walk.

I really wish people wouldn't equate homosexuality with effeminacy or gender confusion.

by Anonymousreply 3September 14, 2007 5:36 AM

Lesbians think they're walking like John Wayne. Gay men actually get the imitation right.

by Anonymousreply 4September 14, 2007 5:37 AM

Thank God I'm in a wheel chair.

by Anonymousreply 5September 14, 2007 5:38 AM

This must be a joke.

by Anonymousreply 6September 14, 2007 5:44 AM

Any tapes of Congressman Patrick McHenry walking?

Now all the closeted guys WILL be walking like John Wayne.

by Anonymousreply 7September 14, 2007 5:46 AM

That's why I decide to skip wherever I go.

by Anonymousreply 8September 14, 2007 5:50 AM

God, someone is desperate to ID gays in the science establishment aren't they. Last month it was fucking hair swirls and ridges on your hands, this week it's how you walk.

What's next before they can identify gay babies at a glance. And you know what THAT means...

by Anonymousreply 9September 14, 2007 6:06 AM

[italic]�We�re a society that permits women to do this, in fact, celebrates women who do this,� she continues. �But we punish men for [adopting feminine traits]."[/italic]

The only part of real interest to me is this part because it's pure fact. Society does berate men for "feminine" traits, which in itself belittles women as well.

I wish for the day there are no stereotypes and judgements as if that'll ever happen. But I think research like this always does more harm than good because people wider afield are too ignornant to understand it and apply it properly. They just end up becoming more prejudiced because of it. Here we have the traditional stereotyped traits of all gay men are women in disguise and lesbians are bull dykes "approach", hidden under all the gloss. But there are thousands of people who do not fit these stereotypes/categories.

by Anonymousreply 10September 14, 2007 6:12 AM

Is this study saying that 60% of gay men walk like women - but you can't use the same test with women because all women are allowed to walk like Arnold Schwarzenegger if they want to so a male walk doesn't mean it's a dyke? WTF? And this shit was done at UCLA? Why ???

by Anonymousreply 11September 14, 2007 6:21 AM

According to the psychologist, gay men get their cues at an early age from watching the opposite sex watch. What I infer from that is we want to be women.

What I saw in the video looked an effeminate man walking.

It's a stereotype to presume that gay men are effeminate. There are gay men who are effeminate, but there are also gay men who aren't effeminate.

by Anonymousreply 12September 14, 2007 6:38 AM

It's not that it's complete bullshit.

A fair amount of gay men do walk as described. But, plenty don't. Furthermore, of the ones who do, a fair amount probably can't avoid it, while plenty can.

"studies" like this, while seemingly positive in that they conclude that homsexuality isn't a choice, inveitably will only be used against us.

And, god forbid what happens to the uncommon, but existing nonetheless, slightly swaying straight guy.

by Anonymousreply 13September 14, 2007 6:40 AM

"What I infer from that is we want to be women"

I am 110% homosexual. Sex with a woman would have never occured to me if it hadn't been shoved down my throat from every single source imaginable since birth. I have NEVER wanted to be a woman, and have no confusion about my gender.

And no, I'm not some super-butch guy either. I'm just me. Kind of a nerd, I think most people would say. Not effeminate. Not hyper-masculine. Not atheletic. But also not into shopping or fashion or decorating or anything stereotypical either.

by Anonymousreply 14September 14, 2007 6:42 AM

These researchers obviously don't travel outside the country much. Otherwise I'm positive we wouldn't have this attempt at passing off this "there's probably a 'swish' gene in gays!" study as science. I sense myopic, inbred stupidity in *somebody's* halls of science! Oooooooh, shame shame!

by Anonymousreply 15September 14, 2007 6:44 AM

"I am 110% homosexual."

You can only be 100%.

by Anonymousreply 16September 14, 2007 7:11 AM

Trust me, R16, on the Kinsey scale, I'm a 7.

by Anonymousreply 17September 14, 2007 7:15 AM

[italic]a fair amount probably can't avoid it[/italic]

What? They have some external force corrupting their movements? Are they puppets?

by Anonymousreply 18September 14, 2007 8:51 AM

Considering my walk has often been described as "like Naomi down a catwalk," I'm pretty sure I'm gay.

by Anonymousreply 19September 14, 2007 9:37 AM

What next? Look for limp, flopping wrists and pronounced lisps?

by Anonymousreply 20September 14, 2007 9:47 AM

There were only two gay guys and two straight guys, and the subjects were told to watch for and pick out the gay ones.

Talk about a wild leap for the article to then say, "a swing of the hips or a swaggered shoulder is enough for many casual observers to identify a man's sexual orientation."

We're then told, "Once you know an individual's sexual orientation, every else that happens is seen through that lens," although nothing in the study suggests that and article doesn't even discuss it.

To me it sounds like this has very limited application outside the bounds of this study, and that the writers of this Newsweek article are (at best) lazy.

by Anonymousreply 21September 14, 2007 9:59 AM

This is not legitimate research statistically speaking - small, way too small sample size of gay people, and they tested only college students' perception... so why waste time discussing this?

by Anonymousreply 22September 14, 2007 11:43 AM

They should just measure the size of our dicks before the slave auction.

by Anonymousreply 23September 14, 2007 11:48 AM

You mean we didn't make up the 'gay swish' and the "little teapot"?

by Anonymousreply 24September 14, 2007 11:50 AM

Sashay! Chantay!

by Anonymousreply 25September 14, 2007 11:52 AM

I've observed that gay men swing their arms more than straights when walking.

by Anonymousreply 26September 14, 2007 12:12 PM

This can't be real. This has to be a story that was lifted out of the Onion or something.

by Anonymousreply 27September 14, 2007 1:32 PM

I think it's tougher to peg women because women are considered the "weaker" sex therefore causing some straight females to possibly emulate their fathers or a more "manly" walk in their belief that it will make them "stronger".

Men, on the other hand are on top by default, therefore any variance of gait could be attributed to more innate tendencies.

by Anonymousreply 28September 14, 2007 1:49 PM

This guy I know is very what you would call, "straight-acting" or masculine when he's sober but the more he drinks the gayer he gets. Not so much the way he speaks but the way he stands, the expressions on his face and the way he cocks his head.

It's hard to tell if his walk changes because he kind of stumbles but I think if he were able to walk a straight line the way he walks would also change.

by Anonymousreply 29September 14, 2007 1:56 PM

"I am 110% homosexual."

I thought you were getting a little chunky. Lose the caboose, lardass.

by Anonymousreply 30September 14, 2007 2:02 PM

I think the problem here is that the research is flawed. There are all kinds of gay men, we all know this - from the gayest of the gay Chelsea queen / lip gloss and Prada type who announces to the world "I'm here, I'm queer, and where's my drink, bitch!", to the suburban closet case who lives a straight life and taps his shoes under bathroom stalls. In this spectrum, on one side swishy, feminine behavior that is associated with being gay is more prevalent - does this mean that all gay men flail their arms when talking about the latest Madonna video? Hell no. But some do.

Based on the scant details provided about the research methods, I can bet they found 6 of the queeniest queens they could find sashaying down the strip in the center of the gayborhood and captured their walking behavior, and then preented this to partcipants.

by Anonymousreply 31September 14, 2007 2:10 PM

Now R30, that's just plain mean.

by Anonymousreply 32September 14, 2007 2:34 PM

I despair of the way modern culture wants to put labels on gayness as if they can sort it and package it neatly into crimpeline tea sets. It's just not that easy.

They always pick the queeniest queens or over the borderline swishies to pack out their "research". They never opt for a wide spectrum of gay men, but then probably such a wide specturm wouldn't come forward, especially if they were non queeny and closeted or private and did not want to get involved in surveys that they might not trust.

I swear this science stuff is another way of figuring out the "gay gene" that they are determined to find so they can probably go and alter it or "correct" it in the longrun.

This sort of research fucks me the hell off. I know two gay men. One is a walking stereotype and the other is about the furthest from gay stereotyping you can get.

In this respect I actually think the feminine traits many modern gay men have adopted have been forced on them, not what comes naturally. I'll get to this below. This is why gay men are wise to steer away from stereotypes if they can, because the harder it is for science to figure you out and label you the more chance there is of survial.

by Anonymousreply 33September 14, 2007 7:53 PM

Ancient Greek ideology. No wiggling hips here, boys:

[italic]At any rate, Macedonian and Greek mores would have favoured an actively sexual component rather than inhibiting or censoring it. Like hunting, homosexuality was thought to foster masculine, especially martial, bravery.[/italic]

Historically, it's always been difficult to bracket gays throughout the ages. So what's changed? When did gay men suddenly turn into effete queens?

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by Anonymousreply 34September 14, 2007 7:58 PM

bump from someone who just found the article

by Anonymousreply 35October 17, 2007 8:38 AM

I recently saw the Invasion and Nicole Kidman had the lesbian swagger..

by Anonymousreply 36October 17, 2007 9:12 AM

They chose four people and their conclusions are based on FOUR people?! That's not science, that's a home pepsi challenge

by Anonymousreply 37October 17, 2007 3:25 PM

Not too defensive, Princesses...

by Anonymousreply 38October 17, 2007 3:33 PM

Blame Madonna's "Vogue" video for the "gay" walk.

by Anonymousreply 39October 17, 2007 3:33 PM


by Anonymousreply 40November 19, 2007 3:48 PM

[italic]As the lesbians walked, they slightly moved their shoulders back and forth � Johnson calls it a less exaggerated version of an Arnold Schwarzenegger-type swagger.[/italic]

Read between the lines - you KNOW she really wanted to say Terminator or Robocop...

by Anonymousreply 41November 20, 2007 3:53 AM


by Anonymousreply 42January 25, 2008 3:21 PM
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