Do I Sound Gay? Ctd

David Cross’s genius and NSFW take on the subject:

I have to say I haven’t thought about this in a while, and since posting that promo for the documentary, I find myself a little paranoid. Maybe it applies to me. I have never been able to bear hearing myself or watching myself on TV. It creeps me out in visceral ways. I can’t even listen to a podcast for very long without wanting to coil up in a ball of self-loathing. (By self-loathing, I don’t mean merely because of my sexual orientation. My self-hatred is so much more extensive and varied than that.) Still, I doubt it has nothing to do with anxiety over the “gay voice.”

I actually had a dream not too long ago where I was listening to an interview I gave on the radio and I sounded like Princess Diana. Seriously, my voice was quite clearly a woman’s. And it wasn’t a pleasant dream. Occasionally, I’ll catch a whiff of an old clip from, say, Charlie Rose or Brian Lamb, and my gay voice sounds gayer then than it does now – or at least so it seems to me. And in fact, before I came out in my late teens, I was much more stereotypically gay than I am now. I wore dandy-esque clothes; I was in the theater; as president of the Oxford Union, my first debate included a drag queen (by my invitation); at Oxford, I gamely initiated the Poohsticks Club, and my nickname was Piglet! I wasn’t just into college drama, I played the lead role in Another Country, a play where my first line was “I want to pour honey all over him and lick it off again.” No wonder that I was outed by the college newspaper, even though I’d never touched another man.

Sometimes I wonder if the outwardly gay presentation, for me at least, was related to the closet. Because I could not be public and open about my sexual orientation, my psyche sought to express it in other ways. What is repressed up-front finds a way to express itself indirectly. That’s why when I see a priest all decked out in frills and lace and gold, I immediately think: another repressed gay. In fact, I doubt whether much of the more elaborate liturgy, ritual and drama of high Catholicism isn’t entirely a function of frustrated queens finding some outlet for their otherwise repressed nature.

But after I came out, and grew up as a gay man in the midst of a sobering, mind-concentrating plague, I found those external signals less necessary.

I’m not saying that this was a conscious or deliberate process. It just happened. In fact, it was only after coming out that I got in touch with more stereotypically masculine aspects of my personality. I grew much more comfortable in my body and became a gym-rat. I grew a beard and found myself more comfortable with straight guys than before (even though my bro-ness quotient was pretty high in my all-boys, rugby-playing high school). My clothes went from dandy to crappy. I still couldn’t give a shit about sports, but equally, I can’t bear being in a room where The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is on the TV. All in all, after coming out, I found myself much less stricken between two polarities of what it means to be a man. I became much more comfortable in myself.

I wondered in the past what more social integration might do to the gay voice. Would it wane somewhat and eventually disappear? That’s the question I’d like to see addressed. If the gay voice is a function of the closet and of marginalization, would it have a harder time propagating in an era of much greater toleration and inclusion? My anecdotal evidence suggests something mixed. Yes, it is still there, but the extremes of either hyper-masculine presentation of hyper-feminine identity seem less extreme in the next generation. Here’s my ballsy guess: it’s a function in some ways of genetics but also the environment. Like every other fucking thing we humans do and are. But it’s fascinating to think of how specifically those two factors might interact, and what they may tell us about the paths for various homosexualities.

And by the way, do I sound gay?