Why does Gay Check Online exist? The website, which purports to tell you whether you’re gay or straight based on your facial features, sounds like something out of a dystopian horror film, or what the Third Reich might have come up with had they had access to webcams and the internet. Just fire up your browser, smile for the camera, and within seconds, you have an answer.
According to Kim Asendorf and Ole Fach of NETRO, the artists who created the site, that vaguely creepy feeling is intentional. “Gay Check Online is not a practical tool but a statement: This tool is as ridiculous as homophobia,” Asendorf told ANIMAL via email. “It is a fun way to deal with the topic while the discussion itself is quite dumb and awkward for all of us.”
Gay Check Online ostensibly pulls data from two studies by Prague’s Charles University and The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, which found that gay and straight men tend to have differently shaped faces — namely, that your average gay man has a wider and shorter face, smaller nose, and larger, more rounded jaw than his straight counterpart. According to the site’s description, it analyzes your face from a webcam feed and matches it against the studies’ findings to determine your orientation. “Reminds us a little of some Nazi studies, where they try to figure out how the ‘only real aryan’ has to look like and how you could control it,”Asendorf says.
If they’ve offended anyone along the way, that’s fine, according to the duo. That is, by taking homophobia and insecurity about sexual orientation to their logical, paranoid extremes, they’re trying to shine a light on how insidious and ultimately silly those behaviors are in ordinary life.
Everyone in our office who tried Gay Check got the same result, gay- and straight-identifying alike: “Congratulations: You are gay!” With a little pressing, Asendorf admitted that’s the only outcome the site gives, and that’s the whole point. When I asked Asendorf and Fach whether either is gay, they gave a similarly cheeky, open-ended response: “Everybody is!”