Saturday, 11 July 2015

Do I Sound Gay?: It's The Movie Everyone's Screeching About!

There’s an old expression in the gay community about a macho-looking man who opens his mouth and “a purse falls out”. This sort of “looks Tarzan, sounds Jane” is particular to the gay male community where a high-pitched, lisping voice has been a huge part of the stereotype of what gay men were like ever since Charles Nelson Riley delivered saucy double entendres on The Match Game (or his UK equivalent Larry Grayson exclaimed “Shut that door!” on The Generation Game). [Think the sub should have deleted the baffling American reference].

Usually this “gay voice” isn’t regarded as a positive, either by homophobes making fun of the lisp (usually accompanied by a wrist limper than day-old pasta) or the gay men who notice effeminate tones coming from the mouth of a potential suitor. David Thorpe, a journalist and film-maker, has become an expert on the vocal registers of gay men. His new movie Do I Sound Gay? is out on Friday and looks at the roots of where this particular intonation might have originated and why gay men feel so badly about it. It also charts Thorpe’s own journey to make his voice sound “less gay” through elocution lessons and voice exercises.

Thorpe’s confrontation with the gay voice came in 2010 when riding the ferry to Fire Island Pines, an almost exclusively gay summer enclave popular with New Yorkers. As the men (and it is mainly men) embark for a weekend of sun, sea and sex, the boat can often sound like a flock of seagulls getting ready for a Robyn concert. “I love being gay and flamboyant sometimes but I can get overwhelmed sometimes when I’m in a tizzy,” Thorpe says. “I think that’s what a group of overexcited gay men should be called: a tizzy.”

That ferry ride planted the seed for the project. “I wanted to look at all the thought processes of how a voice could be a symbol for what is wrong with me,” Thorpe says. “So it was looking back at childhood and Paul Lynde and Liberace and having no other role models, and how that affected me when I came out. It was getting to the bottom of misogyny in gay culture – and in culture in general. It’s like an essay or an argument. Here is why I wouldn’t like my voice and here is what I learned when I tried to get the full story.” ...

There's an avalanche of article's about the film in the American (straight!) media, which I don't quite understand.

Bit worried that the director had tried to teach himself out of his fagcent, but I guess he's not the only one...

PS Not sure when it'll be screening in the UK, despite what the Guardian say. According to the official website it'll be available to see online imminently.

Update: New clip starring David Sedaris and Hugh!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment