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Lesbian 101: How to tell if that girl is gay

Sometimes the internal gaydar most of us girls have just doesn’t fire correctly.


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   Sometimes the internal gaydar most of us girls have just doesn’t fire correctly.

In the absence of a big rainbow flag tattooed across someone’s forehead, many a signal has been developed to give ladies who like ladies a way to find each other. These days, some femmes paint the nails of their ring fingers different colours, in a similar vein to the hanky code of the 1970s, when gay men and lesbians would hang a bandana of a certain colour out their back pockets to let the world know about their desires. 

There’s an old wives’ tale that says if your ring finger is longer than the index finger that means you’re gay. I’ll pause here while you check out your own. Turns out, a new study has emerged that says that sexual orientation isn’t in the hands at all - it’s in the eyes. 

A study, “The Eyes Have It: Sex and Sexual Orientation Differences in Pupil Dilation Patterns,” was recently published in the medical journal Plos One. In the study, researchers began with the idea that a person’s pupils dilate in response to those things we find exciting or interesting, like drag racing in a hot rod, or a super hot girl walking towards us. 

Researchers gathered 325 men and women for the study, with people identifying as gay, straight and bisexual. The people were asked to watch sexually explicit videos, one of a man and one of a woman, with neutral landscape scenes. While they watched, a special camera measured the changes in pupil size.

Results of the study picked up that lesbians respond to images of other women, but straight women “dilate basically equally in response to erotic images of both sexes, despite reporting feelings of arousal for men and not women.” Hmmmm…closeted straight girls, or something else? Researchers are working on the complex results to figure out if evolution may play a part in straight-girl eye dilation.

This isn’t the first time pupil dilation and its relation to sexual orientation have been explored. According to the study, pupillary responses and their relation to sexual orientation were examined in Canada from the 1950s, and through until the 1970s. This program was not meant to explore the science behind pupil dilation, but as a tool at detect homosexuals in order to prosecute them. Thankfully, the researchers never gathered enough material to make a significant case. 

Luckily, this is one experiment you can try at home, or at the next happy hour. And while a pair of big pupils coming your way doesn’t mean a crush will follow, it isn’t a bad place to start.

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