Do I Sound Gay?

  
About a year and a half ago, I wrote another post with this same title: Do I Sound Gay? It was about a documentary that had a Kickstarter campaign to get it produced. I’ve wanted to see it since I first read about it. Wednesday night, it came up on my Netflix suggestions so I watched it. David Thorpe made this documentary about his journey to sound more “straight.” He went to a speech therapist, and talked to celebrities and friends about “gay voices.” It was really quite interesting.

I’ve talked about my voice before, and I’ve always been self conscious of it. After watching this documentary, I honestly think that I am less self conscious than I used to be. One of the things that this documentary talks about is what is the so-called “gay voice.” Speech experts said that it is basically made up of five characteristics.

  1. Gay men tend to pronounce their vowels more clearly.
  2. We also send to draw out our vowels longer.
  3. Also, our Ss are longer, often giving us the stereotypical lisp.
  4. We pronounce our Ls longer.
  5. Gay men overarticulating Ps Ts and Ks.

One of the things that many gay men who were considered to have gay voices had speech impediments when they were younger. Some had speech therapy, others like myself did not. Having a lisp or speech impediment caused many gay men to be more precise in their speech. More masculine speech tends to be less articulate. Of course the deepness of someone’s voice also plays a factor in this. Upper class voices are considered more gay, which is a stereotype from the dandies in old movies. Basically, Thorpe came to the realization that sounding educated, cosmopolitan and refines equals the gay voice. 

So, why is the gay voice derided by hetero and homosexual alike? One it is seen as more feminine. Gay men say they want a “man,” if they wanted a woman they’d be straight. Also, those dandies in old movies were either villains or comic relief. They were not characters to be admired. Then you have what Disney did for the gay voice. Disney used the “gay voice” for its male villains. Think of the voices of Captain Hook (Peter Pan), Jafar (Alladin), Prince John (Robin Hood), Professor Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective), and Scar (The Lion King). Each of these characters is portrayed with what we would often consider the exaggerated stereotypical gay voice. No wonder we hate our own voices.

What I found most interesting is that David Thorpe is a fellow southerner, from Columbia, South Carolina. When he went to the speech therapist, one of the things she tried to do is to remove the last vestiges of his southern accent. I think often gay southerners have it worse because we do draw out our words, we do overarticulate, and we are more precise in our language. And if you think of any southern gentleman in a comedic role, he has the gay voice. I do not want to lose my southern accent, and besides, my accent is much more noticeable than my “gay voice” up here in Vermont.

What did I learn from watching “Do I Sound Gay?” I learned to be proud of who I am and how I sound. I fought hard to get to a place in my life where I wasn’t constantly trying to hide my sexuality. Therefore, if people perceive me as having a gay voice, well, so be it. At this point, fuck them if they can’t accept me the way that I am.

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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