Do you sound gay? Many men — gay and straight — worry about the sounds of their voices.
“I have men of all ages who are keenly aware of how gay they sound,” said director David Thorpe of the real-life cast in his new documentary, Do I Sound Gay?, which opens Friday in South Florida.
Do I Sound Gay? is a comedic documentary featuring LGBT celebrities Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Don Lemon, Dan Savage, David Sedaris and George Takei.
“The film is a comedy with serious issues underneath. One of my producers calls it candy with vitamins,” Thorpe said. “There is, on the surface, a kind of comedic aspect to sounding gay. But I wouldn’t have made the film if I couldn’t discuss how homophobia works and internalized homophobia works.”
Many men are worried about how their voices affect them in various life roles, especially at work, he said.
Thorpe describes himself as “a funny guy” who likes “to reach people through humor.”
“I also wanted to reach a mainstream audience, and humor is a way to do that,” he said. “People think documentaries are all about serious subjects. But that doesn't mean it can’t be a good Saturday night.”
Thorpe said that even though LGBT people have made great strides politically and socially, “there’s still plenty of stigma to go around.”
“It’s going to be a long time before people stop bullying each other because of the sexual orientation or gender expression,” he said.
Gay and bisexual women seem to be less concerned about how they sound.
“I have talked to many lesbians, many experts,” Thorpe said. “For lesbians, there is not significant stigma around sounding masculine.”
But many men, both gay and straight, “go to voice coaches to sound less gay.”
Do I Sound Gay? opens Friday in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
Thorpe will conduct a Skype Q&A Saturday at the 7 p.m. screening at Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale, where the film runs through Thursday, said consultant Robert Rosenberg, who founded the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
According to Rosenberg, few people say he sounds gay. “I don’t have the butchest voice in the world, but I don’t have the queeniest voice.”
Do I Sound Gay? will also be screened Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Miami Dade College’s Tower Theater, 1508 SW Eighth St., Miami.
“It said so much about self-awareness and self-actualization,” said Jaie Laplante, executive director of the Miami International Film Festival. “In any culture, there's a danger of homogenizing certain characteristics. Sometimes, we need to discover our own voice and find out who we are in the context of that culture.”
Laplante said the film is “very, very funny. … It’s also very touching. It’s very entertaining because it touches a deep emotional chord while it makes you laugh.”
The film resonates with Laplante, who once ran the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
Does he sound gay?
“I did wonder in my head. My voice was so deep. I never felt insecure about my speaking voice. I’m openly gay,” he said. “A lot of that comes from my mannerisms rather than my speaking voice. The director asked me if people ever said to me on the phone, ‘ma'am.’ People have asked for Miss Jaie Laplante because of the spelling of my name. When I say, ‘This is Jaie Laplante, they are shocked — because of this deep voice.”
‘Do I Sound Gay?’ director David Thorpe will conduct a Skype Q&A from from New York at the 7 p.m. Saturday screening at Cinema Paradiso Fort Lauderdale, 503 SE Sixth St.