A NSFW take on the subject:
Another reader illustrates how “sounding gay” can vary across cultures:
I’m an American who lives in Catalonia. I’m as gay as they come but, for professional reasons, I was always “discreet” in the US. I now live as a casually out gay man in Catalonia (where nobody cares) and recently saw myself in a documentary, speaking Catalan. After decades of being mortified by my recorded gay voice, I was astonished at how butch I sounded in Catalan.
I’m an immigrant from South Asia who learned English from TV and grew up in Queens and central New Jersey. I moved back to the city when I was 18 and during the gentrification (or whatever) of the 2000s, when it seemed as though lots and lots of white dudes from liberal arts colleges around the nation started moving there, my first impression was that they were gay. I quickly realized that most of them were not actually gay, but talked in a way that would get them branded a “faggot” by most of the hood dudes I knew.
Having learned English from newscasters and ’80s action shows, I realized that I probably sounded fairly white and therefore, on that spectrum, not as straight as dudes who talked ’hood. But these guys were halfway between me and the gay men featured in that “Do I Sound Gay?” video. From that view, I guess in hip-hop culture, gayness kind of tracks with whiteness (although that’s changing). Of course that doesn’t hold when you meet a hood guy who is also effeminately gay, but it’s still a widely held view among a lot of people I know and see.
Another broadens the discussion a little more:
This paragraph reminded me of one of the ironies of straight male bullying:
In my youngest years . . .the bullies made me feel like a girl. I wasn’t badly bullied, though I had a few incidents. But the bullies taunting was usually to make other boys feel like girls, to make them feel that the bullies were the real boys and the bullied were the same as girls.
I was bullied incessantly in grammar school, not for being gay, but for being smart. Until I got someplace (a particular high school, and then university and grad school) where being smart was valued, I shared that insecurity I now know gay and bi men experience. The irony: a certain breed of homophobic bully uses terms like “pussy” to feminize/insult any target, gay or straight. I can still recall the moment I turned this on its proverbial head: I was in college, working in a bar, and a local drunk I’d just cut off called me a pussy, in front of several co-workers, male and female. I just smiled and said “Sure, I’m a pussy: you are what you eat.” This made him look like the loser, and scored me points with my female co-workers.
Another writes, “The whole Do I Sound Gay? thread reminds me of how I became a Dishhead”:
Several years ago – you were still at Time, I think; this was certainly pre-Atlantic – I had seen you on TV. It was Bill Maher or something. The following week, I was at a boring school event. My old friend and co-worker Dan Savage had his kid at the same school as my kids. Dan and I were in the corner chatting about politics. I told him I had seen this gay conservative on TV who I thought was smart. I said, “But Sullivan has the most annoying East-Coast-wannabe-William-F.-Buckley accent I’ve ever heard!” Dan laughed and laughed and told me your accent was because you were ex-pat British and said I should check out your blog. I’ve been hitting refresh several times a day ever since.