How much did I love the fact that this films starts with a close-up of David Thorpe’s “Hello Kitty” shower curtain? From that moment, I knew this would be a fun ride from beginning to end.
Based on the various stereotypes surrounding the “gay voice”, filmmaker David Thorpe thoroughly explores and dissects this issue in his documentary – DO I SOUND GAY?, which is touted as one the “must-see films” at the 2015 OUTFEST Film Festival in Los Angeles running now through July 19th.
David is obsessed with “sounding gay”. What does that even mean…really?
Apparently, a good population of gay men feel out of sync with their voices. Meaning what they think they people are hearing is contrasting sharply to what they sound like to themselves. David notices that there is a degree of nasality to his voice, as well as, a tendency to linger onto the ends of words (especially those with “l’s” or “s”.
So, he sets out on a journey to discover exactly why he has a problem with anyone thinking he’s gay the moment he opens his mouth !
Gathering opinions and observations from himself, Dan Savage, Tim Gunn, Margaret Cho, Michael Arrington, Jeff Hiller, George Takei, Don Lemon, David Sedaris, vocal coaches Bob Corff and many other friends and coaches, David realizes that the issue isn’t his voice or what it sounds like. The issue is how David allowed the sound of his voice to color his existence resulting in a lack of confidence about his vowels/articulation when speaking and even how he entered a room.
A few things stuck out that made me go HMMM…(totally in a good, enlightening way)
1. Paul Lynde, Liberace, Charles Nelson Reilly, Truman Capote, Rip Taylor, Wayland Flowers and Madame all had “that voice” and it never really bothered anyone. Either that, or they just chose to ignore it. As a matter of fact Paul Lynde was on television over 200 times in one year. Doesn’t seem like his voice was ruffling any feathers….just saying
2. Bullying gay youth because of how their “sound”. (Remember the high school freshman who was seen in a YouTube video being beat up and called a “faggot)
3. How sometimes the “butchest” guy is the biggest “queen” and how some men that are very feminine are “straight” as an arrow. Many men in the doc admitted that it is a trunoff to date a guy that sounds too feminine
4. How in the entertainment industry stereotyping exists for gay men. Gay men are usually the dudes with hot bodies, extremely straight looking or “bitter queens”. I especially loved when Jeff Hiller was asked how he felt about being cast as a “bitter queen”, Hiller quoted Ruth Buzzi (from Laugh-In) as saying, “I’ll take those ugly girl roles because I get to work” –that absolutely made me howl!
5. Over the decades gay men in film and animation were seen as upper crust (refined, educated, cosmopolitan) or villianous (ie,…Captain Hook in Peter Pan, Scar in The Lion King, Jafar in Aladdin, etc…)
6. Truth or Folklore…alot of gay men had lisps as little boys.
None of things had ever crossed my mind, but when mentioned I was like…oh yeah right???
References were even pulled out from the 1970’s dramedy film The Boys In The Band, which flaunted every type of gay stereotype you could possibly think of. No wonder David was conflicted!!!
In the end, after vocal coach meetings, exercises and months of research…a more confident and comfortable David Thorpe emerges. He was like Dorothy in Oz upon returning to Kansas…what he searched for was there the whole time.
DO I SOUND GAY is a very entertaining and educational look into one man’s journey of attempting to “not sound gay”. But, for me, it was enlightening to know that gay, straight, black, white, male or female…we ALL have something about us that we want to change. At the end of the day, if we are comfortable in our own skin then those around us will be comfortable and accepting.
For more info about future screenings of DO I SOUND GAY? at Outfest 2015 and other films, please log onto www.outfest.org/fest2015