He opened his mouth

… and a/his purse dropped / fell out.

Meaning: and he revealed himself to be a flaming faggot. Said by someone (usually a gay man) who is distancing himself from flaming faggots and (usually) expressing disdain for them. A variant of the formula in an ecard:


(Eventually there will be a bit of sex talk, from Dan Savage, but otherwise this material shouldn’t be problematic.)

The formula (which is, as far as I can tell, not in GDoS) came to my attention on the 1st in a posting in a secret Facebook group I’ll call SecretCam, “for men who admire men, caught unaware in their natural habitat”. A contributor, call him C, posted a photo of a handsome hunky guy, call him H, on a plane, commenting:

Well if I have to be on a 5 am flight I suppose this might ease the pain a little.

Update: until he opened his mouth and the purse fell out.

So H was handsome and hunky, and desirable when he was in repose and silent. But then he talked and his gay voice revealed him to be a detestable faggot.

Conveyed: C believes that he is not a flaming faggot, but a real man, a “regular guy” who just happens to be into men. C’s stance here involves both an assertion of his social superiority (on the assumption that straight is superior to gay, so that straight-acting is superior to “gay-acting”, being obviously gay); and a shaming of H for his behavior. This is analogous to the message of public peeving about language, which involves both an assertion of the peever’s social superiority (he knows what is correct) and a shaming of the peever’s targets.

But back to purse-dropping. From Urban Dictionary:

Purse: The final confirmation of homosexuality, usually present when one speaks.
The dude looked normal to me until he opened his mouth and his purse fell out.
(by David Durall 4/28/06)

And on tv, there was the (wonderful) character Kurt Hummel (played by Chris Colfer) in Glee, talented and sweet and obviously gay (the voice, the gestures, the clothes, the hobbies and interests), though not sledgehammer gay (he actually had to come out to his father and to his friends at school, and ended up being the only out gay person in the whole school). A purse-dropping joke from Kurt on YouTube here: “I open my mouth and a little purse falls out”:


I’ve posted a number of times on this blog about the gay voice and about gay personas and gay men’s reactions to them. In the case at hand, I just note that you can’t prescribe people’s sexual tastes — though you can worry some when these tastes align tightly with social judgments on particyular groups, but you can certainly complain when men feel obliged to trumpet their distastes. If C is turned off by H, well, that’s his business, but why is he telling the world about it? Answer: to puff himself up as a real man and to put down some others as failures as men, and that’s just ugly.

I’ll give the final word here to sex columnist Dan Savage, in an IndieWire piece on 9/11/14, “9 Awesome Things Dan Savage Said at the Toronto Premiere of Fantastic New Doc ‘Do I Sound Gay?’” by Peter Knegt:

On gay people themselves discriminating against “gay voices”: “There is some talk about in the gay world and it’s usually very negative. The phrase you sometimes hear when gay people talk about it is ‘he opened his month and a purse fell out.’  And I get that question from gay people: I want to date him but he sounds too gay. I’ve always liked guys who sound really gay. I find the gay voice hot and that makes me a bit of an outlier I guess in gay life. Like ‘oh, yeah, he opened his mouth a purse fell out.’ Great, more room for my dick in there.”


A note on the Facebook group I’ve called SecretCam. I have complex feelings about it. For one thing, there’s a very heavy preference in it for big, muscular, hairy young white guys with big packages and beautiful butts: high butch. I’m not at all averse to the type, but my own tastes are much more diverse. And I’m seriously into faces.

For another thing, the premise of SecretCam, with its covert photos of guys who (mostly) aren’t putting themself on display, makes me uneasy. Add to that the fact that, oh, 90% of them are straight and would bridle at being ogled by gay guys, and my strong personal distaste for sex with straight guys (even in fantasy). On the other hand, occasionally there are photos of guys who are in fact putting themselves on public display. And a fair number of handsome faces. Plus the comments, which are sometimes creepy, but are also revelatory of gay men’s attitudes — as in C’s comment on H above. Remember, guys: I’m covertly listening to what you say.


3 Responses to “He opened his mouth”

  1. aric2014 Says:

    Similarly, I’ve used chiffon for purse. “He opened his mouth and the chiffon rolled out.”

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    A poster in the lgbt precinct of Facebook:

    I’ve heard “hair pins” used in place of “purse”.

    I’ve never heard hair pins / hairpins dropped out of his mouth, nor do I get any ghits on it. What’s long familiar to me (attested since at least the 1960s) is the idiom drop one’s hairpins (no mouth involved) ‘reveal oneself to be gay’ (related to the idiom drop hints, and with variants drop one’s pins / beads / pearls.) Also, the hairpin idiom is about revealing oneself to be gay, not more specifically to be effeminately / flagrantly gay. Some discussion in my 12/3/16 posting “Camping it up”.

  3. tim Says:

    I think it was originally “he opened his *lips* and the purse fell out”. It was a pun on pursed lips. Without the pun its just an especially bad clichée.

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