Any other gay guys out there? We always seem to have a slightly different take on things - usually more practical AND more entertaining - than our straight friends. What's the take on being gay and autistic?
I'm not gay - but I think gays and Aspies have a lot in common. It's 'different' - and, as I'm sure you've probably found, even the most non-homophobic people can seem uncomfortable, or not quite sure how to react. Same with coming out as autistic. I've noticed that a few people who know me have behaved a little oddly since I told them of my diagnosis. A bit more distant, perhaps.
Steve Silberman, the author of 'Neurotribes', is gay. He draws a lot of parallels with the experiences.
Having the experiences of being both 'gay' and 'autistic' I'd have to say that coming out 'gay' was way easier. I think hetero-ND's have more underlying concepts surrounding gayness... they expect you to be funny, more fashionable, or the cute gay best friend etc etc. The problem is that since Asperger's was only 'invented' circa 1994, the general populace just don't have the understanding, tools or language to engage with us yet. Things are changing admittedly, but compared to the 'gay' and 'transgendered' movements, the 'autism movement' has only just come out of the womb and isn't even crawling yet. I think it's why my experiences of coming out autistic have been overwhelmingly negative to date, which is why I now don't tell people.
And, there are certain stereotypical elements of the gay community that are actually harder for autistics... such as maintaining a wide superficial circle of friends, casual hook-up culture, and managing your social status etc. The gay community can be harsh and unforgiving of their own kind at times, so I'd advise any autistic to a) find a mentor / confidante / ally and b) to tread carefully.
California said:Well, to me being gay is nothing else but simply looking for the same sex partner.
...and battling against society's innate conservatism...
As a slightly divergent note to that... I was reading about the advances in Facial Recognition Technology. Not quite as accurate as other biometric data, like iris recognition or DNA, but moving ahead at an alarming speed. The whole thing is fraught with human rights issues. In France, police need high-level clearance before they can use it in operations. In the UK, though, there's merely a 'code of conduct' without any real legal force - though the High Court has ruled that the retaining of images of non-convicted people is a human rights breach. FindFace - a Russian app - can identify strangers by comparing their photo with 200 million social media profile pictures. In China, people can use a 'faceprint' to pay for coffee, visit tourist attractions, or withdraw cash from an ATM. More sinisterly, of course, the Chinese are using it in a widespread way to identify Uighurs - the Muslim, Turkic-speaking ethnic group native to the nominally autonomous region of Xinjiang. The Chinese regard them as dangerous separatists, so the region has been turned into a high-tech police state. GPS systems are fitted in all vehicles, spy apps are loaded on all mobile phones. When a Uighur so much as buys a kitchen knife, their ID data is etched on the blade.
Closer to home... Stanford University researchers have developed an algorithm that can guess a man's sexual orientation from pictures of their faces with 81% accuracy, whereas humans can only manage 61%. That could, of course, be very dangerous in countries where homosexuality is illegal.
How can this be? How can a person be identified as gay, or anything else, from facial recognition? This sounds impossible, I've never heard of a persons sexual identity or preference being 'visible'? If that's true, it would seem to follow that we could tell from faces what someone's political leanings are, intelligence levels, all sorts of internal choices, opinions and feelings. Am I missing something?
The research apparently found that gay men and women tended to bear “gender-atypical” features, expressions and grooming styles, meaning that gay men physically appeared more feminine and gay women physically appeared more masculine. These physical attributes included facial structure, jaw lines and cheekbones, forehead size, and nose sharpness, among others.
A photo was chosen at random each time from a dating website, and the model could correctly identify if the person in the photo was gay or straight, with 81% accuracy. When shown five random photos of a man, it identified the individual’s sexual identity correctly 91% of the time. In women, the model told straight and gay apart with less precision. However, after one photo, it attributed sexuality with 71% accuracy, and after five photos with 83% accuracy.
I can't find the original scientific article I read it in, but there's a newspaper feature here:
AI can tell if people are gay or straight with one photo of their face
What's frightening about all this is that if the technology is relied on to 'identify' a gay person in a country where homosexuality is illegal, then the onus will inevitably fall on the identified person to prove otherwise. Guilty, until proven innocent.
I'm blown-away that this is real! When my children were younger and picking up playground language and attitudes, I remember telling them off for 'jokes' about someone "looking gay". I made sure to teach them that you should never make assumptions much less judgements about anyone based on any aspect of their appearance.
Now, this sounds exactly like that and I can hardly believe it's based on science! I've known many gay men and a couple of women and I never noticed any of that. One of the women looked and dressed more femininely than I ever have and was a very delicate looking small girly-woman. A gay couple I know are both big, heavy guys who just look like every other man that age around here - like farmers basically. There's nothing feminine about either of them that I've ever noticed, although I suppose my ASD means that I'm probably, apparently, not processing facial features in the same way that most people do. Hmmm.