Two days ago the NY Times ran a review of Do I Sound Gay, a movie by David Thorpe, who examines how his voice betrays his sexuality. (He also interviews various well known gays like David Sedaris, George Takei, Dan Savage, Don Lemon, and Tim Gunn about their voices.)
I've always found the voice to be the surest giveaway of male sexuality. I've certainly been fooled by appearance, gait, and mannerisms. Sometimes I'll see a guy, and wonder. But then I hear his voice, with all its intonations and inflections, and think, oh, okay.
Some gay men, and some lesbians, essentially advertise their gayness with their dress and (in the case of lesbians, their haircuts). And some stay in the closet. But even from the closet, the voice is usually a giveaway.
Lesbians tend to talk in a sort of hollow-sounding, monotonic alto.
With gay men, it's not just a matter of pitch (though I can't think of many gays I've known with rumbling basses.) Gay men tend to have a certain vocal vivaciousness, a heightened expressiveness, a certain singsong emphatic quality. And even when they have deeper voices, as with George Takei, they often have a certainly overly enunciated actor-ish quality which gives them away.
According to the Times, when Thorpe went to a speech therapist to try to sound less gay, he was given "exercises to reduce his nasality and elongation of vowels. Liberace and Paul Lynde are cited as embodiments of the flamboyant gay stereotype."
The Times article starts out by saying:
David Thorpe’s engaging personal documentary, "Do I Sound Gay?," tiptoes into treacherous waters, where it stirs up a few ripples before gracefully backing out. Not so long ago, mockery of the sissy queen stereotype, with a limp wrist, a mincing gait and a lisp was a surefire laugh getter for comedians like Bob Hope, who made cruel sport of perceived effeminacy.
Okay, individual gays ought not to be mocked for an effeminacy they can't help. But as I recall, Hope didn't name names, he merely play-acted at being a sissy himself, which was more self mockery than cruelty.
And why, exactly, does the Times deem the waters that Thorpe wades into so "treacherous?" Because he dares to talk about some of the characteristics that tend to differentiate gays from straights?
This is evidently an intolerable thought crime. Stereotypes, no matter how accurate, are, according to liberals, intrinsically evil. In fact, it seems the more accurate they are, the more evil they are.
It's one thing to criticize mean-spirited mockery (of the type this blog often indulges in). It's another to insist that all stereotypes are misleading. That's just dishonest. Nobody says that all gay men speak as described above. But to say they're more likely to is simply being realistic.
The prudish, neo-Victorian sensibilities of the NY Times can't countenance that sort of honesty. And they continually demonize those who point out the obvious.
Anyway, Thorpe himself sounds realistic, honest, and likable. And his movie likely reflects his character. If I'm going to spend an hour and a half watching a movie, I'd prefer brutal honesty to propaganda.