Movie Review - Do I Sound Gay?

David Thorpe identifies the origin of the so-called "gay voice" as coming from certain films of the 1930's and certain stage performers that got mainstreamed, adopted by gay culture and then inculcated or spread by those in the forefront socially and politically.

Essentially, a stereotype or an archetype was developed early and basically mimicked. Admittedly, the gay voice was performative, but this is not to say that it can't be authentic.

Thorpe is himself homosexual and feels that he wants to change his voice because he thinks it sounds too "gay." He goes to a speech pathologist in New York City, as well as a Toronto linguist who help to define what the gay voice is. They define it as a voice that is mainly nasal, higher in tone, little to no bass, clearer vowels, over-articulation and lingering on certain syllables like vowels and specifically the letter "s." It's also referred to as camp speech.

Through interviews, he learns that the gay voice is stereotypically associated with the lisp. The gay voice is attributed mostly to men and it's attributed generally with men who are perceived to sound effeminate. Interviews with men like actor George Takei dispel these stereotypes, myths and echoes of misogyny.

Thorpe is driven by loneliness and his own insecurity to change his gay voice and sound "straight" or heterosexual. Thanks to the wise words of men like author Dan Savage, it's learned that this drive stems from homophobia, both external and internal. However, this drive isn't limited just to gay men.

Thorpe interviews CNN anchor Don Lemon to talk about code-switching and how black people change their voices, not to sound straight but to sound "white." He also addresses how people from the south will change their voices to take away their southern accent. Thorpe interviews actress and comedian Margaret Cho who conveys a story about her immigrant father trying to change his Asian accent.

It ends up being a common story for minorities or those who are oppressed, marginalized and bullied but who want to assimilate and be accepted. Therefore, Thorpe's story is not unique, nor is it unique to the gay community. The lessons are rather trite. Be who you are. Love yourself, even your gay voice.

In terms of movies about a man trying to change something superficial but highly fundamental to his being, one could try Being Ginger, a man like Thorpe that instead doesn't like his red hair.

Three Stars out of Five.
Not Rated but contains anti-gay slur and excerpts from gay porn.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 17 mins.


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