If people can clock your sexuality from the lilt of your voice and the enunciation of your words, you may have what comedian Guy Branum calls “a truly, magnificently gay voice.”The Washington Post broke down the stereotypical “gay voice” in 2015, when the documentary Do I Sound Gay?
came out: “A man speaks at a higher pitch, and in a more melodious fashion. The man might pronounce his p’s, t’s and k’s very crisply, or have what’s sometimes (incorrectly) described as a ‘lisp.’”As the Post noted, researchers have gleaned that gay voice “has more to do with the voices that a person identified with as they grew up, rather than sexuality” and that gay men and straight men alike develop more feminine voices “because they are influenced by women when they are young.” But other influences include one’s peers and one’s self identity.Related: Let’s hear it for this “gay voice” appreciation postUniversity of Minnesota researcher Benjamin Munson found in a study that gay men’s pronunciation differed than that of straight men, and Munson speculated that gay men in the study wanted to convey a stylish and cutting-edge identity. “As speakers of a language, we have lots of freedom in how we pronounce sounds,” he told the Post. “People exploit that variation to create different social meanings.”The aforementioned Branum wrote an opinion piece about his gay voice for The New York Times in 2018.
As he explained, when he realized in his youth that his voice made him different, he was “quiet, very quiet, for a long time.”As an adult, however, Branum understood that forming a community means speaking up and being visible.