Outside of the gay and lesbian community, away from the gay bar, the island or the village, many gays blend in. They lead their everyday lives just like everyone else. They have their job to go to, and the everyday tasks it entails. The social scene might be a hard situation. A single gay man looking to find someone might have a hard time finding someone. If there is no local club and not many signs of the ‘pride’ in town, it can be difficult to figure out who are the other gay men. Although some people wear their sexual orientation on their sleeve, no one can be 100% positive at guessing who is gay and who is straight.
How can gay men let one another know that they are around? There are signals, signs, colors, and other forms of nonverbal communication. Gay men have to be able to, sometime discreetly, let each other know that they are gay. Looking out for each other is important because, not every man that a guy is attracted to will be gay. It can be an awkward, humiliating experience misinterpreting a look, color, or signal, and approaching someone who is straight (and therefore certainly not interested). Approaching someone and asking them their sexual orientation, or assuming their sexual orientation could be a huge failure sometimes. In order to spare each other the embarrassing moment, many gays have a special non-verbal code to spot each other in a crowd.
One of the problems that arise when it comes to having an understood signal among gay men is that it might not be all they need. Finding another gay person who knows the signal creates a social obligation. Getting together later on, or right then is almost expected. Even though two men are both gay and both understood the signal of ‘yes, I’m gay,’ there is more to be said. What about gay and taken, gay but not interested, or gay but not looking. It presents a hard situation sometimes, because with all of the homophobia, gay bashing and societal stigma behind being gay, it would be a double offense for a gay man to ignore the signal. It is one thing to be straight and ignore the sign because you don’t know what it means, but it is another thing to do that if you are gay.
Finding other gays on vacation, at work or other public places is nice. Knowing that you are not alone out in the world is a good thing. What if a gay man is completely satisfied with his life, number of gay friends and has a significant other that they are settled with. Is it still their obligation to meet up at the giving of another gay man’s signal? Is that required every time? Of course it isn’t a rule written in stone, but within the gay community, there needs to be a better communication system, to allow some of the gay men who aren’t looking to meet more gays or find someone new.