Guys from LA are, in the words of Yul Brynner, a puzzlement. Actually, SoCal guys in general are, but LA guys seem to be the most so.
Usually, they completely blow my gaydar to hell; that is, most of the time I think they are gay until they start talking about their (ex)wives or otherwise make it unquestioningly clear they are straight.
Part of it is that LA guys tend to pay attention to style. And age is really relative. So, you’ll see men older than I wearing $300+ jeans and designer t-shirts and great shoes and sometimes scarves and really paying attention to their grooming (they almost always smell great, too).
Yes, some of that it because I encounter a lot of creative men and they are more likely to pay attention to style and grooming, but it’s not exclusive to that group. Besides, there are plenty of photographers who couldn’t dress their way out of a paper bag. Seriously. What are they thinking?
Anyhoo… then there is the accent. LA/SoCal hetero men sound gay. Not completely over-the-top-flaming-queen gay, but there is a softness to their speech that you find more in gay men. It’s not the slack-jawed valley girl accent, but just a softness in their stops (p, b, t, etc. kinds of sounds) that isn’t a lisp (lisps happen in fricatives anyway). Not entirely surfer, but you know how Keanu Reeves sounds when he’s speaking normally? Kind of like that.
Add onto the soft voice this: they touch a lot when they talk to you. That’s not strictly an LA thing, I’ve encountered it here is SD too. You’ve just met some guy and he goes to make a funny point and reaches out and lightly grabs your arm and leans in to make the point–almost like he’s sharing a secret. Body touching by hetero men in conversation takes longer back in Ohio (women and gay men will do it much sooner).
Finally, they will offer intimate details about themselves and/or ask pretty intimate questions way sooner than I’m used to. I tend to be pretty open with people, but damn, sometimes I’m just blow away by their directness. Again, I’ve known plenty of gay men who feel that open, but back home, usually, you need to know a hetero guy a lot more than 5 minutes before learning his sexual history (okay, except for some jerks in bars).
Yes, yes, I know, I’m pointing out a lot of gay stereotypes, but I used to have almost perfect gaydar regardless of the stereotypes. I’d know, somehow, even in butch/closeted guys. But here? I’m guessing often and I’m too often wrong.
This fritzing gaydar leads to awkward situations. I think I’m talking to a gay man and, therefore, am free to be my favorite self and make sarcastic and possibly sexual innuendo/double-entendres; the only risk is that I might not get a laugh. Some of my best humor works on that just-a-hair-over-the-line mode, particularly when being self-deprecating. People love it and I get told how funny I am often. Here though, too often, the LA guy I’m talking to this way, whom I’m almost sure is gay, turns out to be straight. Now, whatever I’ve said sounds like I was making a play for him. At the very least, the self-deprecating humor can sound like a cheap attempt at getting a compliment when all I was looking for was a laugh. Ugh.
I wish I could start asking every SoCal man I meet “are you straight or gay?” right off the bat. At least then I’d know the dynamics at play. If one does that, though, it definitely comes off like you’re looking to hook up or something, which is what I am trying to avoid in the first place. So I’m stuck trying to read the tea leaves.