Do I Sound Gay?

That’s the title of a new documentary movie. From the website:

Do I Sound Gay? A documentary about finding your own voice

(Director David Thorpe seeks advice from vocal coaches, linguists, historians, friends,  strangers, celebrities and others in order to better understand his voice. “Where does my ‘gay voice’ come from?” he asks.)

Is there such a thing as a “gay voice”? Why do some people “sound gay” but not others? Why are gay voices a mainstay of pop culture — but also a trigger for anti-gay harassment? The feature documentary Do I Sound Gay? explores these questions and more and includes revealing interviews with Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Don Lemon, Dan Savage, David Sedaris and George Takei.

I’m about about to be interviewed by a journalist in connection with the movie, but without having seen the thing (it premiered at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival but won’t be released in theaters until July 10th, starting in NYC). Considerable trepidation.

(Available online, a detailed handout from a 2003 paper “Sounding gay” I gave at Cornell in 2003. I haven’t done any original research with subjects on the topic, though I’ve been an appreciator and critic of other people’s work.)

Quotations from people in the documentary (from the website):

Tim Gunn: “If people hear me and identify me as gay, I’ll say, ‘Thank you! I’m proud of it.’ ”

David Sedaris: “If I call the hotel front desk, they always say, ‘We’ll have that right up to you, ma’am.’ I think, Really? Do I really sound like a woman? I think I sound like a very small man.”

Dan Savage. “A lot of gay men are self-conscious about sounding gay because we were persecuted for that when we were young.”

George Takei: “I was put in a prison camp for how I looked. Democracy can fail when we subscribe to stereotypes.”

Ohio teenager Zach King: “People started making fun of the way I talk in third grade, and that’s when the bullying started.”

Thorpe (on the left) together with Savage:

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