Rule confesses that his own gaydar is jammed when it comes to what might be Shakespeare's "new" portrait but notes, "Our research suggests that sexual orientation is processed automatically." In fact, last year Rule and Tufts psychology professor Nalini Ambady were surprised to discover that gayface may be a reliable indicator. They recorded the reactions of Tufts students to a sample of 90 male faces culled from online personalshalf gay, half straightand found that 70 percent of the time, people guessed right. Even when shown the images for as little as 33 milliseconds.
"In our studies we have not yet found full agreement for the sexual orientation of any one person," Rule cautions. In other words, someone always gets it wrong. Of course, we can hold out hope that Hollywood will get it right when casting a gayfaced actor to play Queer Shakespeare in the biopic. Hey, Chace Crawford? Gus Van Sant is on the line.
Photograph courtesy of AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis