Do I Sound Gay?


Confession: I’ve always been self-conscious about “sounding gay.” It’s one of the main things that “gives me away” as gay. I knew that my anxiety came from my internalized homophobia telling me: Gay = bad, so sounding gay = bad. A compelling new documentary is bringing together some of the biggest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) celebrities to discuss a question that probably crosses the mind of every gay man at some point in his life: Do I sound gay?

From director David Thorpe, “Do I Sound Gay?” aims to present an intelligent and and provocative cultural analysis of the “gay voice.” Throughout this process, Thorpe talks to linguists, celebrities, historians, voice coaches and total strangers to share their own thoughts and experiences surrounding the idea of ‘sounding gay.’

In the tradition of funny-but-serious first-person movies like Supersize Me, Roger and Me and Good Hair, Thorpe encounters a colorful cast of linguists, historians, voice coaches, speech therapists, friends, family, and total strangers on the street, gay and non-gay, who share their wisdom and touching, funny stories about the “gay voice.” There are also intimate confessions and hilarious anecdotes from LGBT icons – Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Don Lemon, Dan Savage, David Sedaris and George Takei – as they open up about the “gay voice.” Over the course of three years, Thorpe did 165 interviews in four countries.

Here are five reasons. David Thorpe gives for making this film and a few comments from me:

Reason No. 1:

Some gay men are self-conscious about “sounding gay,” even famous ones like David Sedaris. Let’s start hashing out this whole “sounding gay” thing, so we can all be OURSELVES in this small but crucial way. It’s something about me that I’ve come to own and make it my own.

Reason No. 2:

“Sounding gay” is still a trigger for mockery, bullying and violence. LGBT kids are far more likely to commit suicide or drop out of school because they feel unsafe. Zach King, one of our brave young subjects, was viciously assaulted at school. I was always made fun of for my “gay voice,” sometimes I still am, and it has always, even to this day, raises my hackles.

Reason No. 3:

Hard to believe, but nobody has comprehensively explored the phenomenon of “sounding gay.” Voice and sexuality – two fundamental features of human existence, and yet most people don’t have a clue how they’re related. Instead, we have stupid stereotypes. Let’s toss ‘em in the trash. Knowledge is power.

Reason No. 4:

A lot of people think it’s okay to be gay as long as you don’t act – or sound – that way. The daily pressure to cover, hide or “pass” affects many minorities. Let’s relieve the pressure.

Reason No. 5:

Our title isn’t just a title. Combined with our rainbow tongue logo, it’s an empowerment icon, a sneaky, fun, viral way to say it’s OK to sound – and be – gay. When the movie gets made, you’ll see rainbow tongues everywhere, asking, “Do I Sound Gay?”

The film is currently engaged in a Kickstarter campaign in order to fund post-production. Visit the project’s Kickstarter for more information.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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