by Spectral Sequins.
I realized I have no idea how I developed gaydar. For girls, anyway.
When I was fifteen I was impressively clueless about flirtation in general. I was usually obtuse when boys/men hit on me, even boys I liked. But that smoky, offbeat vibe on a visibly queer girl – especially one whose gender seemed a little twisty – that shone clear as a beacon.
When I was fifteen or sixteen, I met this butch teenager at theater school. We sat in the grass under a swingset, and talked. She told me about her partner, who she loved – and carefully avoided that partner’s pronouns.
Finally I asked, about her partner: “Is it a girl or a boy?” She smiled, and tilted her head. “What do you think?”
We never kissed, but spent the rest of the summer giving each other very thorough, topless massages. For friendship.
I had no idea what I was doing. I was speaking words, but not thinking words – just obeying a survival instinct without seeing its meaning. Wordlessly following my programming, like a boy cat pawing at a girl cat in heat.