by Dan Savage
on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 9:38 AM
Some gay men have complicated feelings about their speaking voices. They'll tell you they can't stand listening to themselves on tape because "they sound so gay." Some gay men have complicated jerky feelings about the speaking voices of other gay men. They'll tell you that they spotted a hot guy at the club/the gym/the park and they were totally into him—until they guy started talking. "He opened his mouth and a purse fell out," they usually say.
Me? I do not have a problem with guys who sound gay. I actually like the gay voice. I mean... I like like it. I think gay voices are sexy. (I could binge watch an entire season of Project Runway with my eyes closed and still enjoy it.) I could blame my preference for gay voices on lousy gaydar—"gay accents help me spot other gay men!"—but my gaydar is excellent. The real reason gay voices and other overt manifestations of gayness appeal to me, I think, is because they're so paradoxically masculine. The only openly gay kid at my Catholic high school in the early 1980s would roller skate into school every morning wearing satin short-shorts and a mesh tank top. He wasn't afraid of the homophobic jocks at St. Greg's. The jocks were afraid of him. I wanted to be him.
The subject of the gay voice—where it comes from, why some gay men have them and some don't, whether they're an affectation or our authentic voices—doesn't just fascinate gay men. I'm constantly getting letters at "Savage Love" from straight people who have questions about the gay voice. Documentary filmmaker David Thorpe decided to explore the topic and he's currently raising funds to finish his feature-length film. If you want to hear how David Sedaris, George Takei, Tim Gunn, and I all feel about our voices—and hear what scientists and speech therapists and historians have to say about gay voices—help David finish his film.