“Zara! Zara! ZARA!” My friend Violet frantically bellowed down the phone. I was walking to work in sub-zero temperatures, acute menstrual cramps holding court in my ovaries. I was shivering and running late. This better be good.
“WHAT?” I spat.
“I need your help,” she sounded like a desperate dog begging for that second treat.
“Ok, Ok. Sure.” It’s not easy being the lesbian big sister to the tri-state area, but somebody has to do it. I pulled my hood over my head as I loped down Fifth Avenue. “What’s the problem?”
I heard her light up a ciggy. “I’ve got a crush.” I heard her exhale her ciggy.
“Wow, that’s great! I haven’t heard you say that since you broke up with Melanie two years ago.”
“I know. I’m sort of freaked out. We work together.”
“Oh, come on. You know how much I enjoy an office affair. Go for it!” It’s true. I do love office affairs.
“That’s not the problem, Zara. The problem is more…uh, complicated.”
Her lighter clicked loudly in my ear. I could smell her cigarette through the phone. I gagged. “Let me guess. She’s your ex’s ex?”
“She’s my ex?”
“She’s my ex’s ex?”
“NO. Zara, believe it or not, this has nothing to do with you.”
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“Alright, I’ll spit it out. I know you disapprove of shit like this.” She paused, dramatically. It’s what my former acting teacher would’ve called a living silence. “I don’t know if she’s gay?”
It was eleven degrees in Manhattan, but suddenly my blood was boiling. “YOU HAVE A CRUSH ON A STRAIGHT GIRL? HAVE YOU NO SHAME?” I screamed. Two pigeons flapped away at the sound of my booming voice, which my brother has said resembles a Jewish fog horn.
“I don’t know if she’s straight. I mean, I sort of get a gay vibe. But I’m not sure. We’ve been hanging out and Zara — I’ve never connected with anyone so deeply. But what if she’s straight? We’ve never had the conversation.” Her voice fell into a soft whisper. “I don’t want to be a lesbian predator.”
I shuddered. We all know about that kind of lesbian predator. The one who actively seeks out straight, unavailable girls with boyfriends and breaks up marriages and ruins lives.
“Ok, calm down, Violet. I got you. Meet me tonight after work at the Plaza Hotel.”
“The f*cking Plaza? And you wonder why by people think you have some kind of trust fund…”
“Don’t be nasty. The Plaza is on Central Park South, the land of heteros. The dykes are all downtown. We need to unearth this problem of yours without any lingering lezzies swooping into the scene, spying on us.”
Violet chuckled. “You’re a narcissist. No one is spying on us.”
“Do you want me to help you or not?” My voice snapped like two fingers.
“Ok, I’ll see you there. 6 PM.”
“Um. You’re welcome, bitch.” I looked into the bright blue Manhattan sky. That’s the thing about New York. The sky is always blue, even when it’s a frozen urban tundra.
“Thank you, Zara.”
And guess what, my sweet little siblings? We did meet at the goddamn Plaza (great little tea sandwiches, by the way) and I shared with darling Violet my ten steps into figuring out if a girl is GAY AS F*CK.
And today I’m sharing the golden nuggets of Zara wisdom with you. Purr. Lucky bitch!
1. Out yourself.
Let me tell you a little secret. If you out yourself to another member of the LGBTQ community, most of the time, they out themselves back. Just do a little “The boss keeps asking me if I have a boyfriend, and I’m like um I’m GAY!” type of thing.
If her eyes light up like Christmas lights, she probably plays for our team, or is at least curious about switching over to our team. If she says “ME TOO!” she’s definitely gay. If she nervously laughs and shuffles away, she’s not gay.
2. Don’t pay attention to how she looks, pay attention to how she looks at other women.
A great mentor of mine (GO Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Amy Lesser) once said: “It’s not the way you look, it’s the way you look at other women.” Truer words have never been spoken! Dykes come in all shapes, sizes, and styles — but the one thing we all share is the blazing fact that we can’t help but blush and gawk at pretty girls.
3. Examine her walk.
Lesbians walk very differently than straight women. My wife calls our walk “vagina first” — because when we enter a room our vaginas enter before we do. We lead with our vaginas. Some people call it “swag” — I call it the Sapphic Strut. I’m not mad about it. It’s hot.
4. Casually bring up “The L Word” reboot. Her response will be v. telling.
“I’m so excited for “The L Word” reboot!” gush to her, out of nowhere. If she’s never heard of “The L word, she’s f*cking straight (it’s true, don’t @ me). If she has zero reaction, she’s straight. If she is surprised about the reboot and didn’t know it was happening, she’s as straight as my hair after a keratin treatment.
If she gushes back and expresses vehement excitement toward the reboot, she’s a dyke, honey!
If she brings up Carmen, right off the bat, and her mouth visibly waters, she’s a lezzie, darling!
If she’s really annoying and says she HATES “The L Word” and proceeds to launch into a monologue about how awful “The L Word” is, she’s a lesbian, babe. An annoying lesbian. But still a lesbian.
5. Close your eyes and tap into her energy.
Queer girl energy is something you can feel, intrinsically. Let go of all the shit you’re analyzing (like her nail length!) and listen to your gut. People who have good “gay-dar” are no different than you or I. They’re just tapped into their instincts.
6. Bestow her with the universal lesbian head nod.
When you next see her, before you utter a word, give her a butch, bro-ish head-nod. For it is the one universal way lesbians are able to identify one another when we’re out in the wild. If she nods back, she’s gay! If she looks perplexed, she’s straight. Straighter than the pinstripes on a stone butch’s pants at a black-tie event.
7. Does she have the following adhered to her wrist? A “Pandora” bracelet? A “Return to Tiffany” chunky silver chain bracelet? A “WWJD” bracelet?
Lesbians love jewelry but we’re allergic to those Pandora bracelet things, and the “Return to Tiffany” chunk bracelets trigger us (they remind us of middle school when we were closeted and bullied). And we’re definitely not sporting Jesus apparel either.
8. Does she look generally unamused?
Lesbians have this incessant facial expression glued to their faces, that I find wildly intoxicating. It’s a look of “really, jackass?”
If she is giggling over the stupid bro joke your frat-boy coworker just told — she’s definitely straight. Lesbians don’t have it in them to fake laughter at shit that isn’t funny. Especially shit from men (gag!).
9. If you want to know if she’s gay AF, it’s not in her kiss. It’s in her voice.
Don’t tell me there is no such thing as a lesbian voice. Because there is. Now, before you get your Calvin Klein boxer briefs into a twist — calm down, baby. I’m not saying their voices are “deeper” or more “masculine” I’m saying they’re sexier. They have a gruff, sultry quality to them, and they’re unapologetic. Primal! Usually on the loud side. They aren’t baby-ish or Kim-K-ish at all (no offense to Kimmy K, I love her!) because they’re not trying to dumb their vocal quality down to disarm fragile men.
10. ASK HER IF SHE’S SEEING ANYONE, IN A NON CREEPY WAY.
Guess what? It’s not at all creepy to ask someone if they’re seeing someone. Just don’t be awkward about it, be casual. Take a sip of your diet coke and purr: “I’ve been single forever. What about you?” That’s a perfectly legit question. And she’ll either say “Yeah, me too. I haven’t dated anyone since I broke up with (Insert Girl name here)” or she’ll moan about some f*ckboy who screwed her over. If she moans about the f*ckboy that screwed her over, she’s straight. If she doesn’t, you have a chance babe.