Saturday, June 18, 2005

Gaydar Inop

The New York Times fashionistas are looking over the latest looks in clothing and saying that it’s hard to tell who’s straight and who’s gay by how they dress.

Are you confused that the newly styled Backstreet Boys, hoping for a comeback, look an awful lot like the stars of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”? Are you curious why Brad Pitt, to promote his new film, dyed his crew cut so blond that even his hairdresser is scratching his head?

Well, how about that guy you see in the locker room, changing out of his Prada lace-ups, Hugo Boss flat-front pants and Paul Smith dress shirt and cuff links into a muscle T-shirt and Adidas soccer shorts. Does he wear that wedding ring because he was married in New York – or in Massachusetts?

Or those two 40-something guys walking in the park in pastel oxford-cloth shirts and khakis, collars turned up and cuffs rolled, one of them pushing a stroller? Is that baby his – or theirs?

Confused? You are not alone. It is late June, when many cities across the country celebrate gay pride, and bare-chested he-men dressed in very little are out in the streets again. But look past them, and June is more confusing. As gay men grow more comfortable shrugging off gay-identified clothing and Schwarzeneggerian fitness standards, straight men are more at ease flaunting a degree of muscle tone seldom seen outside of a Men’s Health cover shoot. And they are adopting looks – muscle shirts, fitted jeans, sandals and shoulder bags – that as recently as a year ago might have read as, well, gay.

Take it from a gay man who wouldn’t know fashion trends from a weather front and whose idea of a clothing store is the aisle at Target where they sell Levi’s: it isn’t how a man dresses that marks him as gay or straight…it’s how he undresses.