Do I Sound Gay? – 4 stars

The documentarian, David Thorpe, opens up at the outset explaining that he’s not in a relationship and then focusing on his lilting voice as somehow responsible. Whether that is the case is hardly proven, but it is clear that Thorpe is not happy with the way he talks. This commences his journey to speech therapists, gay icons (David Sedaris, Dan Savage, Tim Gunn) and his family and friends in a search to discover the genesis of the gay voice and in particular, when he started to sound gay (the title is a bit of a misdirection: he sounds gay; there ain’t no “Do I?” about it). What follows is a mostly interesting if occasionally duplicative meditation on one man’s gay voice.  In the case of Thorpe, he was a quiet closeted kid in South Carolina, perhaps knowing exactly what was in store for him if he was labeled a “fag” in the pitiless halls of high school. But to his credit, he doesn’t leave off there. His old friends affirm that his “gay” voice was a relatively quick change, occurring when he came out, and Thorpe explores the bravado of that act, as well as the influence of gays in pop culture when he was growing (who knew Paul Lynde, Charles Nelson Reilly and Rip Torn were so influential?) The documentary also shows a certain group speak at play, as anyone can attest when they spend an appreciable time in the South and a drawl develops. What is abundantly clear by the end of this film is that Thorpe’s never getting rid of the voice. When he tries, he just sounds like a baritone gay dude. But in cataloguing his attempt, he’s made a witty, watchable picture. Currently on Netflix streaming.

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