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Who’s To Say Who Sounds Gay?

Mia Constantino Cachilli

In a recent video piece by David Thorpe, published by the New York Times, he endeavors to reveal why some men sound “gay” and others don’t.

He focuses his investigation on the subject around two of his friends, Chris and Matt.

Chris is a restaurant consultant who describes his voice as all treble and no bass. He says he’s mistaken for a woman over the phone 98% of the time.

Matt is a senior VP for a business enterprise. He describes his family as a brand, with similarities ranging from talking with their hands to being athletic.

To David, Chris sounds gay and Matt sounds straight.

Enter Benjamin Munson from the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at the University of Minnesota.

Munson attributes the differing nuances of each mans vocal projection to the language learning environment throughout their formative years, the diverse exposures to language from both male and female, peers, and multiple generations.

Chris grew up around more women than men, while Matt grew up surrounded by more males than females. He has three brothers and one sister. The boys in his family were raised in traditional masculine molds.

Munson says that the source of speech models is significant in the way an individuals speech projection is developed, as men and women have subtle differences in speech sounds.

Ron Smyth, Associate Professor of Linguistics and Psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, explains micro variations are the tiny variations in annunciation. Women tend to make the s’s differently than men causing it to sound higher, for example.

Munson states that it isn’t a conscious decision made as it relates to sexual orientation at all. But rather, identifying with a speaker’s speech patterns and emulating them.

Smyth contends that there is no connection between the vocalization of either man and their sexuality. He say’s that’s a misnomer.

Matt shares of knowing his sexual orientation at a young age and that he’s been told he sounds straight, an observation he’s not particularly proud of. He doesn’t like it when people assume he’s not gay, because he is.

Chris agrees that his voice comes off as a bit feminine and that it gets more pronounced when he’s the most relaxed or exhilarated. A straight father in a committed relationship, says he’s often been identified as being gay but that it doesn’t bother him.

Are you aware of what your voice implies about you?



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