Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


David Thorpe
DO I SOUND GAY? (2014). Director: David Thorpe.

David Thorpe, who is -- for lack of a better term -- kind of, shall we say, "queeny," (not that that makes him a bad person) asks people if he "sounds gay" and is pretty much told by everyone that he does. Although he may or may not be dealing with some degree of internalized homophobia, Thorpe is appalled by his "gay"- sounding voice. Thorpe and  his equally "queeny" friends do not seem to know or acknowledge that the gay "bear" community exists, or that there are many different types of gay men; they just assume that most homosexual males have that certain "gay" speech pattern -- overly sibilant "s" sounds, a sing song style, ending each sentence on an "up" note, talking too fast (actually this last is not covered in the film but should have been), and so on -- when most of the gay men I've encountered don't talk that way at all.  Thorpe goes to more than one speech therapist to learn how to talk less "gay", including a man who works with gay actors who are afraid of losing jobs due to their obvious sexual orientation. (Effeminate mannerisms and behavior are largely ignored, which makes this speech therapy seem a bit pointless.)  As the documentary progresses the point finally gets made -- barely -- that not all gay men sound gay and sometimes straight guys do. There are some interesting conclusions made, especially when we meet a masculine gay friend of Thorpe's who spent most of his time with his car-loving brothers, when other gay men were surrounded by women and adapted some of their speech patterns. It is also true that there have been many cases of gay men consciously or unconsciously mimicking the speech and mannerisms of gay "femmes," which might not have happened had they hung out with the average bear.  Thorpe discovers from old friends and relatives that he started acting and sounding (stereotypically) gay after he came out, as if he needed to make a statement. Do I Sound Gay? makes some interesting points, and ultimately comes to the conclusion that if a man sounds gay, he should just own it, because there's nothing wrong in being gay, and therefore nothing wrong in sounding gay or being obviously gay. The film briefly addresses some gay men's disdain for "queens," with columnist Dan Savage wrongly stating that it's due to misogyny (what?) then stating, rather preciously, that it you "take a piece of man cake and put a female gloss on it, it's sexy" -- most gay men would probably disagree, but apparently Savage can sometimes be a little dizzy in his thinking. The most interesting person to be interviewed is Star Trek actor George Takei, who does not sound gay and makes some astute points as well. Included in the documentary is a clip of now-disgraced comic Louis CK doing a riff on "faggots" -- basically saying he can deal with gay men unless they're annoying queens -- but it's one thing for a gay man to criticize his own community and quite another for someone to do it who hasn't paid his dues.

Verdict: There's some interesting stuff in this, and Thorpe is likable, but this documentary might have been better had someone else tackled the subject. **1/2.

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