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parts of speech

Why Do Some Homos ‘Talk Gay’?

It’s called an “affect,” and I’d argue The Homosexuals learn it over time. And as Straight Acting Erik notes, it’s not always a lisp that obvious gay men have, but a particular manner of speaking. I bet you’re wondering aloud right now if you talk gay and didn’t even realize. (Hint: You do!)

By:          Arthur Dunlop
On:           May 3, 2010
Tagged: , ,
    • Sam

      I don’t understand where the lisp stereotype even came from. The gay affect does NOT include a lisp; if anything, the “s”s are more pronounced and drawn-out. Isn’t that, if anything, the opposite of a lisp?

      May 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

      Erik: I defended you from the haters, you have your flavor of Gay that you prefer which is “straight acting”. Some guys don’t like queeny very out there brand of Gay. Bottom (no pun intended, or is there???) line is there are many flavors of Gays avaiailbe for you to sample. I would guess that you won’t associate with anyone not “straight acting”. Don’t discount one because you are “turned off” by their mannerisms or speaking style. I am fairly masculine, yet some of my bestest friends are so freaking queeny or “un straight like”, that everytime they open their mouths a rainbow pours out and unicorns ride it!! Yet they are some of the funniest, wittiest, true lifelong friends one could ever wish for. And some of my FBs are not the butchest things on the block, yet they are some of the most adventreous and hottest partners when the pants come down…….

      Don’t be so quick to judge a queer by his mannerisms, you may miss out on good friends or at least some real good fun…………..

      May 3, 2010 at 3:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jimstoic

      There are multiple ways of speaking that sound “gay.”

      The lisp is a legitimate, if not dominate one. Think Paul Lynde and the suspiciously oriented Daffy Duck. I had speech therapy for a lisp, and I have another gay friend who did as well. That proves nothing, of course.

      A second way is merely a slightly higher, perhaps more nazal, and maybe smoother voice. I think a lot of boys who later discover they are gay speak in a way other kids think of as girlish–i.e., effeminately. I wonder if it is because many gay boys model their vocal patterns on their mothers rather than their fathers, perhaps because they identify more with their mothers. When I hear myself on tape, I sound “gay” in this sense, at least to myself. I disagree that there are not straight men who sound like this–think of Ira Glass. And I disagree that children don’t have this “accent.” Or maybe what this video is referring to is the third way…

      The third way is what I think of as an affectation. I can’t think of a good popular-culture example. Ugly Betty’s nephew comes to mind, but he probably fits better into my second category. Many gay men do it some of the time. Probably some gay men do it all of the time. It often involves the use of the word “girlfriend.” I think you may be right–that it’s a way of signaling.

      I suspect that when all is said and done, science will discover multiple sources of homosexuality. Perhaps one or more sources will turn out to be associated with the voice.

      May 3, 2010 at 3:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • rayy

      There are also certain colloquialisms, such as “yeah-yeah-yeah”.

      May 3, 2010 at 3:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sam

      Self-Hating Erik: we do it because it’s fun. We don’t expect you to understand; you seem about as much fun as a wet cat.

      Lighten up, girlfriend!

      May 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Andrew

      Straight Acting Erik – please grow up and stop being so judgemental. By you placing people in compartments in your only little world you are diminishing the extent and breadth of your life experience. I have a suspicion that some time in the near future we are going to hear that Erik is now in the ex-gay movement.

      May 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Qjersey

      I refer to it as the “family accent”

      May 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • hoodwink

      I hear tons of kids talk in the “accent” and they usually turn out gay.

      May 3, 2010 at 4:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • DJ Robbie Martin

      however you view it, “straight-acting” or “gay-acting” implies a comparison to someone else…and I think it is easier to love yourself when you arent comparing yourself to another person. everyone is different and everyone is loveable.

      May 3, 2010 at 4:19 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cam

      Erik, you absolutly do hear children speak in the “Accent” they learn not to from getting picked on etc…

      As for you not speaking that way, well, in all honestly, your voice sounds like you are concentrating not to talk “That way” I detect an extra hold on your s’s and if I heard you talking in a hallway I would clock you as gay. I’m not saying you are prancing around with a feather boa, but I definitly clock your voice as familiarily gay.

      May 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Lindseed Grahamm

      Lots of queens talk through their nose. I don’t know why being gay would cause that, so it must be an affectation.

      May 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jeremy

      I don’t think it’s a “gay way” of speaking. I think it’s just a more feminine way of speaking. Gay men tend to identify more with women than with straight men, so it doesn’t seem all that surprising to me that gay men pick up speech patterns and mannerisms that are common to women. I think if you really want to answer this question you should be asking why women talk in a different way than men.

      May 3, 2010 at 4:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ryan Murphy

      This kid totally sounds gay to me.

      May 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fitz

      I think that the ‘gay accent’ has to do with whose speech you emulate when developing speech patterns. I talk ‘gayer’ when I am hyper, usually from too much coffee or from the adrenalin rush I get after beating the shit out of someone who calls themselves “straight acting”.

      May 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

      Erik, are you trying to find the science behind femininity? Google “why gay men lisp” and select the third result. I would say speech patterns pertains to a variation of sexual behavior in homosexuals which IS learned overtime NOT to be confused with sexual orientation which is indeed a biologically gifted human trait.

      May 3, 2010 at 5:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AlwaysGay

      The reason some gay men have an effeminate way of speaking is because they grew up socializing with girls. They subconciously adopted certain vocal patterns from girls. Think of Arianna Huffington and Arnold Schwarzenegger and how they continue to speak with thick accents even though they’ve been in the United States for decades surrounded by English speakers. Their accents tell the story of who they socialized with growing up, the most important time for shaping people’s identities. In the case of Arianna Huffington she grew up surrounded by Greek speakers, the Greek language is imprinted in her mind in how words should be produced. Gay men have the same physical characteristics as heterosexual males.

      The influence of sexual orientation on vowel production

      May 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jimstoic

      @Jeremy: I think you are onto something.

      May 3, 2010 at 5:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jimstoic

      @Jeremy: My first inclination was to agree with you, but then I looked at a study someone linked to that said the following: “These results are inconsistent with the conjecture that innate biological factors have a broadly feminizing influence on the speech of gay men and a broadly masculinizing influence on the speech of lesbian/bisexual women.”

      The study is reported here:


      May 3, 2010 at 5:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Cassandra

      Erik, if you are reading along

      In case you were being critical, you have gay voice. And you don’t come across as particularly straight acting either, at least, not in these videos.

      Many gay men do not have ‘gay voice’ and many others turn it on and off according to the situation they are in. Many heterosexual men with high voices get mistaken for gay men. Many gay men with base or low voices get told ‘you can’t be gay’ when they come out to someone.

      There’s a stereotype, and though some people fit it, and some people deliberately play to it for all kinds of reasons, a lot of people don’t fit it.

      “in the media and stuff” – Erik, the media deliberately recreates and reinforces stereotypes, including ‘gay voice’.

      May 3, 2010 at 5:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tangelo

      It is from watching to many Golden Girls, Designing Women or Sex in the City episodes! :-) Our Gay Voice is our Inner Diva mixed with genes and hormones as we transcend puberty. Everyone is f*cked up so don’t worry about figuring us out. Just accept it and move on.

      Some do a gay voice all the time, some do it based on the situation, and some never do it. Just like some straight men are articulate and some are knuckle draggers.

      Really gay sounding guys turn me off. Your deeep voice, mmmmmmm, that revs my engines.


      May 3, 2010 at 5:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jon

      I think my “gay voice” is my natural voice and my “normal voice” isn’t my normal voice. Makes you think…not really. lol

      May 3, 2010 at 6:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Idi Amin Dada

      It’s not an “effeminate” way of speaking. I rarely if ever hear women speaking in the nasal way Erik is describing.

      May 3, 2010 at 6:16 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • randy

      I read some time ago that a study had concluded that not only are gay men to be found in every culture on earth, whether it is a straight-jacketed homophobic society or a tolerate open one, and that men who ACT gay are also in every culture. The acting part is not only the speech patterns, but the swishy behavior.

      That doesn’t mean, of course, that every gay man acts or talks like that, but there is nonetheless a certain percentage of gay men who do. And they exist everywhere.

      Trying to stamp it out is like trying to stamp our red hair, or moles on your skin.

      May 3, 2010 at 6:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zed

      If you’ve never met a little kid who talks gay, you clearly haven’t met very many little kids.

      I’ve definitely talked gay ever since I started talking–I really don’t think it’s learned, at least for most who talk that way. With the by and large current obsession with being “straight acting” why would anyone intentionally start speaking like a homo?

      May 3, 2010 at 6:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Michael

      Hello, this guy speaks “gay speak”. It’s 100% obnoxious for a gay guy to bitch about other gay guys acting too gay. I’ve seen this guy parade about how “not gay” acting he is and it really pisses me off because you could tell he was gay right off the bat.

      May 3, 2010 at 6:20 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Erik

      Of course, people are going to say I’m “bitching” about other gays and the way they behave.

      Simply, I am asking a question. It’s a question a lot of people have told me they’ve wondered. A lot of people certainly have strong opinions, theories, and beliefs about the topic.

      Merely asking a question about why people behave the way they do, that is not being homophobic, or putting down other gay people. It’s being curious. It’s important to understand the world around you and why things are the way they are. This video way my attempt open up a discussion and find out some opinions and answers to a question so many gay and straight people have: Why do some gay people speak a certain way.


      May 3, 2010 at 6:33 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Hilarious

      I think most of you have forgotten you’re getting worked up over the viewpoints of a 20 year old.

      In gay years he’s pretty much a newborn. Who really cares what he has to say about anything?

      Would you take mortgage advice from him? No, because he’s never had one.

      So why listen to his words of wisdom that comes with the life experience of being a gay man?

      Many teens go through this self-hating confusion when they first come out. Eventually he’ll know who he is and won’t need to place attacks on others who differentiate from his perfect little mold.

      At least wait until he’s done bottle feeding before you persecute him for crying for attention. He can’t help it.

      May 3, 2010 at 6:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • A.G.

      thought-provoking comments

      I never finished all the course work, but I believe a correct term to describe it when gay men turn on their gay voice or family accent or whatever you want to call it is: coding

      May 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Derek

      It’s kinda like “Ebonics” or southern California’s “surfer slang” It’s a learned thing that comes about as a cultural way of speaking. If you go to another country and stay there for a while you’ll start to speak like them, picking up their slang and expressions. It’s the same for some gay people, but not all. If you hang around with them, you’ll start to speak like them. It’s become a cultural stereotypical type of thing.

      May 3, 2010 at 7:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Xerxes

      Homosexuals like to speak Gay-lick (Gaelic).

      May 3, 2010 at 7:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ian

      It’s more of a social thing in one’s early 20’s I feel. I remember when I was in my early 20’s and AbFab was all the rage and I and my friends would frequently call each other “Sweetie Darling”. But today I talk as “straight” as anyone else as I’m no longer into the club or large gay ‘scenes’ as I’m now a few decades older and I have different life priorities, and camp just doesn’t fit into that schema as well as it did when I was younger.

      May 3, 2010 at 7:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ronn

      Great question Erik!I am soooo glad you presented this question and appreciate you doing so in a very respectful way. So to all you queens who jumping on his case, don’t get mad because he’s asking a question that a lot of people wonder about…including other gay folk!I too am proudly and openly gay and several of my other gay friends and I have pondered this very question for some time now. It is much more than a simple “lisp.” A lisp is one of many actual speech impediments. We have all seen and/or know straight men with lisps yet they do not have that typical “gay sound.” Perhaps those that offered the theory of gay men socializing with girls/women may be on to something. However, why do most butch/masculine lesbians still sound like heterosexual women. They might use differnt lingo/slang of course but for the most part their accent/tone is just like any other woman for the most part. So, what is different with some and/or feminine gay men?

      May 3, 2010 at 7:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Marx

      The jury is out on whether:

      (1) Guys who otherwise speak “normally” pick up a “gay voice” once they come out and start associating with other gays who speak that way, or use it as a signalling mechanism to let others know that they’re gay; or

      (2) Such a voice IS normal for most gays, but up until coming out we learn to speak in a more “masculine voice”—but then many of us drop the pretense once we actually come out of the closet.

      Who knows.

      More importantly, who cares.

      May 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Russ

      I have often wondered about this and am one of the ones who can turn it on and off according to the situation. I most certainly remember my gay accent appearing in childhood, when I was around no other “known gay men” in the rural South.

      Do any of you remember the David Sedaris book “Me Talk Pretty One Day”???????

      May 3, 2010 at 7:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jason

      I think “gay speak” is sometimes a means of standing out in the crowd, of bringing attention upon yourself, or of sending a message. When homosexuality was punishable by prison terms or worse, gay men used their voices or clothing style to telegraph their orientation.

      Also, some men are campy in terms of their personality, and this lends itself to an affected voice, for instance. Because camp is often associated with gay, the assumption is that the person is gay, even though he might not be.

      May 3, 2010 at 7:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kieran

      It’s an interesting question Erik, but you realize that by daring to ask it you’ve blown all chance of winning Queerty’s Most Popular Poster Contest don’t you? The only thing that might save you now is if you demanded the right to wear a dress and high heels to your new college in Germany.

      May 3, 2010 at 8:37 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scott ny'er

      i think Erik is talking about Davey Wavey.

      to me Davey Wavey is a prime example of the gay accent.

      Erik should ask Davey Wavey.

      May 3, 2010 at 9:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Fitz

      @Ronn: It is a fair question– it’s just the “straight acting” crap that deserves a slap down.

      May 3, 2010 at 9:07 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Brutus


      For what it’s worth, I’ve been told that I’m way more “gay” when I’m drunk, which makes me think it’s the “straight-acting” crap that’s learned and not the other way around.

      May 3, 2010 at 9:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jose

      Am I the only one that has always thought Erik has an identifiably gay voice?

      I dunno, it always seems that gay guys that go out of their way to cover up their affectation, for whatever reason like shame or a wish to appear more masculine, always come up with this weird deep voice. I’ve known a good number and Erik pretty much exemplifies it. I think the affectation he’s speaking of though just comes in part by more feminine vocal cords (as far as I know most gay guys have lower levels of testosterone which alters development ever so slightly) and a lot of association with female role models and friends in youth. But of course there are plenty of gay guys that talk very straight-like and are all-around more masculine.

      Ah well, I say just live and let live. On that topic if you’re really feminine and talk with the typically gay affectation then good on you. I hate it when people say all the flamers should act more normal because they’re making us look bad. Isn’t our movement much about acceptance? No matter how uncomfortable what other people do with their lives makes you, bottom line it’s their life.
      And if you want to live a more masculine lifestyle then all the more power to you as well. It’s what makes you happy or what you feel works for you. Just do whatever works for you.
      Simply put, people need to learn to stop telling others how to live.

      Oh shit I just noticed I went on a rant. Sorry!

      May 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kevin, New Jersey

      Yeah, Erik sounds gay – though not effeminate. I’m usually “straight-acting” myself, though there are times when I completely queen-out. Someone said earlier it’s because it’s fun, and I agree: “talking gay” is about emotion.. there’s a carefree feeling to it. However, some people use it for fun, while for others it’s part of a facade to hide a painful life.

      May 3, 2010 at 10:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AlwaysGay

      @Brutus: Masculinity is learned through socialization as well.

      May 3, 2010 at 10:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Ken S

      Don’t know, Erik. Don’t especially care. Some do, some don’t. Maybe it’s physiological, maybe it’s socially influenced. But it isn’t some ‘problem’ to be diagnosed or solved. It’s an academic issue and your apparent concern over it is perplexing.

      But incidentally, just listening to your video with my eyes closed… you ‘sounded’ pretty frikkin’ gay to me.

      May 3, 2010 at 11:23 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Nickadoo

      Why do some gay guys ramble on and on and on? There’s something going on that causes that, but I’m very very curious.

      May 4, 2010 at 12:09 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kieran

      Erik has raised some interesting topics for discussion here. But what I find REALLY interesting is how even here on a gay website some people apparently believe the worst insult they can hurl at Erik is the “you sound gay” retort. Homophobia certainly runs DEEP—even within and among ourselves.

      May 4, 2010 at 12:34 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • biguy

      This is something that has always fascinated me. There isn’t just one answer. I think it comes down to social coding and how people want to present their orientation. In my experience the queenier a guy acts the more he likes to bottom but what do I know.

      Internet porn has blended a lot of previously distinct sexual preferences and guys can find others with their interests via the internet as well. 15 years ago when I was in college there was just a ton of pressure to be one way or the other, being bi (at least as a guy) was met with near universal derision from gays and straights. This encouraged starker differences in the way people chose to present themselves.

      I think gays are becoming straighter and straights are becoming gayer, culturally and sexually. That might be conditioned by my belief that most people are really bisexual but it sure seems that way to me. As being gay becomes more accepted in the mainstream and straight people become more open minded I just don’t see how it can’t happen.

      May 4, 2010 at 1:28 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Sam

      I came up with a few examples of straight guys who (can) sound gay:
      Sean Nelson, former lead singer of Harvey Danger
      Andrew Volpe, lead singer of Ludo
      Damian Kulash, lead singer of OK Go

      If y’all want to hear gayvoice, just listen to “Love Me Dead.” Hell, the first time I heard that, I was sure the guy was gay until the chorus kicked in with all its “she”s and “her”s. Around the lines, “‘High maintenence’ means/You’re a gluttonous queen/Narcissistic and mean,” I was like, “Damn, they’re playing this on the RADIO??”

      May 4, 2010 at 7:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Evan

      @Kieran: But he does sound gay. It’s neighter homophobic nor insulting to observe that. He sounds gay, I sound gay, at least two other guys who commented in this thread say they sound gay. Some well-designed studies have shown that the average person can identify gay men with accuracy well above chance from samples of their voices. So apparently a whole lot of us sound gay. Why? That’s an interesting question, but one I’m not sure the video made any real effort to answer.

      Now, calling yourself ‘straight-acting’ while pondering why other guys sound gay, without reflecting on the possibility that you too might have a little gay in your voice…that just might be homophobia.

      May 4, 2010 at 8:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • James

      Speech “affectations” (which is not the correct term), among gay men in particular, is most certainly not a learned behavior, unless they learned it in the period of development where speech can actually be modified by learning. I would argue that this development period occurs much too early for a child to have mimicked it from gay peers. These types of speech differences are innate, one is born with them, and it’s merely another genetic tie-in to sexuality.

      May 4, 2010 at 9:41 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jason

      Does talking whilst having a cock in your mouth make you “sound gay?”

      May 4, 2010 at 9:56 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jason

      I refuse to contribute to “Straight Acting” Erik (who ftr, is as GAY AS HELL) being able to pontificate on anything.

      His only “straight” attribute is that Fantastic Sam’s haircut of his.

      I’d get more use out of those three minutes by burning myself with lit matches than listening to his tripe.

      May 4, 2010 at 10:01 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Erik

      Oh, believe me, I am “gay as hell!” I love dudes!

      May 4, 2010 at 10:08 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Tangelo


      Oh Ian, you lost your AbFab? Say it isn’t so. I am in the same boat (age etc) but still summon an AbFab quote at least once a week.

      SAFF!!! Help mummie.

      Liquid Lunch for me, darlin.

      Champers alright with you Pats?

      Inside of me there a thin person just screaming to get out!

      You can never have enought Hats, Gloves and Shoes.

      Where are all my surfaces. I need surfaces darling.

      LaCroix, sweetie…LaCroix

      Looking forward to Mothers Day and an AbFab marathon.

      May 4, 2010 at 11:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Rikard

      I think an ear for accents and mimicry and motivation to appear straight allows some of us to choose a more masculine voice. I lower it and add a little growl when speaking close to a hot guys ear btw, but after a few drinks with loud friends and I find myself a shreiking queen. There is an elongated sibilant that is commenly called the gay lisp, but that isn’t like the invoulentary th sounding lisp. It’s intentional and frequently used to say “HEY I’M ACTING GAY!”

      May 4, 2010 at 4:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • geoffrey ZuHone

      i know i sound gay, and i dont try to, maybe it’s just part of the culture, gays are more expressive than most straight men because they usually do not care what most people think. sometimes i try not to have a gay voice, but its just too much effort, it’s me and i like being me. i mean i dont have a high voice, just very emotional, and we all know gays like to be emotional :)

      May 4, 2010 at 7:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • JonathanHasHasIt

      @Sam: who?

      May 4, 2010 at 7:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • MuscleBoy

      @Jason: Shut up loser and get rid of your gay lisp.

      May 4, 2010 at 7:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • TONYD

      He may be on to something, no offense, such as “gaydar,” and why do some have it and others don’t. Mine has yet to be proven wrong to the point I’ve set up “experiments” with willing friends flirting with case subjects; it’s hilarious. Is it a subconscious thing you can identify in others? The lisp and “gay speak” is a bit more obvious to some, but do gay men develop it unknowingly to identify with other gay men?

      May 4, 2010 at 11:25 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Bryan

      Eric reminds me of one of those guys from an episode of Tyra, who says he plans to be gay now, then become straight when he’s 35…

      May 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • A Noyed

      You may have a deeper voice than most, but you have “the accent” too. And the mannerisms. Especially the mannerisms. It is what it is. And another difference between adults and children…children are unable to understand that sometimes there is no answer.

      Time to grow up Erik.

      May 11, 2010 at 8:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chill

      I think I probably have a bit a of a “gay affect.” I think for me it’s definitely a result of picking up my mother’s speech patterns and perhaps a bit of “coding” (a term that sort of grates me, but watev).

      I definitely did it when I was a kid, in fact, before I hit puberty I was often mistaken for my mother on the telephone.

      I came out at thirteen (I’m 21 now) so perhaps there was a period of time where I really camped it up, I was definitely anxious to interact with other homosexuals in my early teens. But, I was pretty young and my voice and body were going through through so many changes at the time, it’s pretty difficult for me to gauge what was what.

      In terms of coding, everyone does it to some extent. I’m African-American and my boyfriend (who’s Jewish-Italian) says that I change my speech when I’m talking to African-Americans who speak with a rougher dialect then I do (I “code-switch,” ugh). I can also turn the camp up when I’m in a group of gay men or women, especially if we’re all in a festive mood, but I consider myself to be pretty androgynous in general so I’m sure that affect my speech also, putting me on the effeminate side of stereotypical masculine speech. I spent a bit of time working abroad with a group mostly consisting of Englishmen and as I became associated with them I often found myself picking up on some of their speech patterns (the traces of British dialect faded after a couple months back in the states).

      All this to say, people are pretty complex. I think you’d be hard pressed to find one specific reason for a “gay affect,” and while a lot of posters here seem to think it’s exclusively a “gay thing” I know a lot of women or even straight men (go to any Caberet or circus punk event) who camp it up in much the same way the boys at the clubs do, and I know several lesbians who butch there speech up to broish levels. Why, I dunno, gender identity? Internalized stereotypes? Personal choice? Fun?

      I think you’ll find as many varied answers as people.

      Jun 23, 2010 at 9:38 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Chill

      I will also go ahead and say that at I did identify your voice as sounding somewhat stereotypically gay Erik, so you might be able to look inward to see if you think there is any specific reason that may be or even,why I perceived it as such.

      I do think it’s an interesting question. I found this in a search for info on how certain speech affects affect vocal production (raised larynx, unnatural vowel shapes, etc.)

      Jun 23, 2010 at 9:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • aznav

      I think most of these posts are on the money. A “gay lisp” is affected. And, it’s affected for several reasons, almost all cultural. There are two primary lisps: 1) guttural – originating at the base of the tongue and roof of the mouth, which actually are more common in women than men and 2) bilabial – originating from the front of the tongue and roof of the mouth. This is the lisp most often associated “gayness”. This lisp is less common with women. Both of these lisps are congenital and not affected.

      I know many straight men who have a bilabial lisp, oftentimes being considered gay. And, to stir the pot, there are gay men who do, indeed, have a congenital bilabial lisp. I.e. they were born with it. It’s possible, Erik, that this could be your situation as you definitely have a lisp but not the traditional voice fluctuation (variance) given to gay men.

      Aug 29, 2010 at 7:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • David

      Years ago when I was in beauty school
      (which I didn’t complete because they threw me out — long story)
      the beauty school had “parties” for kids. Ya, if a high school, middle school, pre-school, girl was having a birthday party, they’d offer discounts for them and their friends in groups of 10 or more.

      Well, one time two vans full of pre-school snot-gobblers came to the school for discount hairdo and nail treatments (I still shudder to think about those days). Those female linoleum lizards were running around like wild animals, indistinguishable from what you might expect boys to be doing.
      When the students started working on the little girls, some of the adults would look at what was going on and say, “That makes you look soooooo pretty! So beautiful!” and it was repeated over and over and in that typical feminine tone familiar to all of us. Then the little girls began to mimic what the adults were telling them, and in the same tone of voice. I thought to myself, “Huh! This is how little kids learn to act feminine.”

      My guess is that the set of “fem” behavioral patterns are learned one way or another from children’s environment. Also, I think people acquire their attitudes about cross-gender behavorial patterns from other people as well.

      People are surprised when they learn that I’m gay, so I guess I don’t seem “fem.” But I like fem guys and butch women as much as everyone else; don’t really have any preferance or aversion one way or the other. It’s certainly not a flaw, or an indication of a deficit of virtue. It just is. And I think it’s unfortunate that some folks feel uncomfortable around people with those traits. It’s just the way they are.

      I, also, wondered how people acquired those personality traits, and it was fascinating to watch those pre-schoolers (about the age of 3) become a little bit more “girlish” in that moment.
      I’ll bet that gay guys who speak with feminine characteristics spent some influential time around other people who also spoke that way when they were very young.


      Technically speaking, however which way a straight person acts, that’s “straight acting.” Same is true for gay people – we all act gay, regardless if we’re sashaying in gowns or overhauling our truck’s diesel engine. That’s just the way it is; we are what we are, we act how we act.

      That being said, will somebody pass the mashed potatos? I’m hungry.

      Aug 29, 2010 at 9:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • scott ny'er

      @aznav: LOL. I had to listen closely and yes, there is a weird vocal slurring going on with Eric. But it’s very slight and I could barely detect it.

      You know who has a great big lisp. SCOTT WOLF of party of five. Sometimes it’s just a part of the speech pattern. And not affected.

      Aug 29, 2010 at 10:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • aznav

      So, I’m watching Sean Connery in “The Untouchables” and what pops out? A guttural lisp! So, I watch his early James Bond movies and not a hint. It begs the question, is his lisp affected or did it come with age?

      Aug 31, 2010 at 1:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Toby

      Why do some homo’s talk gay ? LOL !
      Probably cause they’re gay…girl!! I MEAN DUDE.
      The guys that try to act and sound more butch most always take it up the a55, while trying to get their flaming homo BF’s to play the male role.
      Most gay men just impersonate their idea of masculinity, and the results they get
      back while impersonating it, is nothing more than a mere reflection of who and what they really are attracted to. Gays want to be accepted, so they are going to ACT, to TRY and blend in with the straight community. If you are impersonating masculinity, you are acting. You are impersonating what you secretly desire to be accepted by others. We have a WORD for that, and it’s called FAKE.
      If you want to act that’s your choice. But acting will only make you a walking personality and identity disorder. Be yourself. The person you try to be will expose
      who you really are, and that will make you look nuts.

      Nov 4, 2010 at 1:32 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Greg

      Toby Toby Toby. Have you forgotten that there are real actual masculine men who happen to be gay and that not all gay men are women trapped in men’s bodies? Those masculine men don’t have to act, Toby, they just are.

      Nov 4, 2010 at 4:48 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mark

      1) Yes, there are kids who talk like that.
      2) When you were saying you didn’t know how to describe the way the guy you were talking about, you should have just said “he talked kind of like me,” because I hate to tell you, but you do sound in a way that sets gaydar off quite a bit. In fact it almost sounds like you’re purposely trying to speak in a low voice…

      Jun 22, 2011 at 11:52 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • jay

      @Cam: erik, you do know as a straight guy. i clocked you as gay. why is it. your voice. it sounds gay at times. you have lisp and it sounds like you try hard to not sound gay.

      Jul 6, 2011 at 7:19 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Seán McGouran

      As you didn’t give an example if this ‘Gay accent’ it was difficult to get a grip on what you were trying to discuss.
      Most large cities prior to Gay Rights / Gay Liberation had some sort of enclosed ‘lingo’ for queers.
      And there is the case that most Gay people (women rather less than men, I think) more or less agreed with the ‘official’ attitude to queers.
      Though many – possibly most – straight people were quite open-minded on the matter,in private in the first place, but inceasingly openly over the decades.
      (I am 64 at present).
      ‘Camp speech’, imitating, (and usualy downing-down women) was a ‘scene’ thing, as was the phenomenon called ‘polari’ in – mostly – London. It was based in inversion of standard English e.g. ‘riah’ for hair, and ‘eek’ (based on ‘ecaf’) for face. The other main ingredent was what you migh call ‘dog Italian’.

      Jul 19, 2011 at 4:21 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Aaron

      Very interesting question ~ I’ve wondered about this since I realized I was gay. Even more interesting is some of the angry hateful comments this video received from some people.. which is the reason I haven’t asked this question of other gay friends after I received similar knee-jerk angry reactions the first couple times.
      I understand the term ‘straight-acting’ brings up images of repressed closeted individuals to some folks, and for some reason flamboyant campy feminine gay behavior is ‘in’ right now, perhaps because it has been so discriminated against in the past. Maybe this is simply what progress looks like.

      As a gay man that doesn’t behave or speak in an overtly flamboyant or ‘gay’ manner (as far as I know from my observations and what surprised friends told me when I came out to them over a 15 years ago) I feel a little socially repressed by the ‘gay’ culture that expects this of me, and will even react with righteous anger when I question it. I’m sure I’m not uber-manly without a trace of femininity, and I wouldn’t want to be, but I seem to fall in the more butch section of the spectrum.

      After I came out, I kept expecting to start talking and acting differently because that is what ‘gay’ people did, or so I thought. It just never happened. And I find myself attracted to guys like me in that respect, because to me, it appears as if they are being natural, and aren’t putting on a show. Pretending to be something they’re not. I understand now that what is ‘natural’ to another person may be totally different than what is ‘natural’ to me, but my unconscious sexual attractions for some reason haven’t really absorbed that.
      I love my campy flamboyant gay friends, and have seen some of them ‘man-up’ in life more than many straight guys I know. They just aren’t sexually attractive to me for some reason. I like men who behave much like the stereotypical straight guy, and who do traditionally ‘manly’ things. I find myself behaving much like that without being at all ashamed of my very solid gay orientation, after years of being out, and without intentionally trying to act a certain way.

      I did spend my teenage years in the South under a pretty oppressive social structure, and might have possibly learned behaviors that are now completely effortless. I don’t know. I saw plenty of gay guys in that same structure who were flamboyant and campy.. some of them not even out to this day.

      Either way ~ if you’re feeling angry about this video, or my comments, really ask yourself .. ‘whats this anger about?’.. is it the flipside of fear? Fear of the closet? Fear of a society that doesn’t accept you as you are?
      I have to admit after the reactions of several friends, and many of the comments here, I fear my society of fellow gay men isn’t accepting the more butch spectrum of the rainbow, and in fact often treat us with contempt and the assumption that we are repressed.
      How quickly the oppressed become the oppressor..

      And I don’t know if its my location or my distaste for craigslist and hookups, but I haven’t met a down-to-earth traditionally ‘manly’ gay man in years (and many of the ones I’ve met ARE either in the closet or have some intense internalized homophobia). It’s really frustrating!

      Thanks again for this post!

      Apr 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jay

      @Erik: But, Erik, you DO speak that way. You are obviously gay and IT’S OKAY. If you loosened up and relaxed a little, you’d be less self-conscious and speak even “gayer.”

      Jun 28, 2012 at 12:37 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jason

      I’m gay and forgive me but….I believe that most gay men speak with that “affectation” because, perhaps as a defense, they feel the need to sound pretentious and/or “fabulous”. It is not just the pitch of the voice, but it’s the valley-girl-mixed-with-British pronunciation that, in my opinion allows them to feel better about themselves. The fact that most pronounce a mono-syllabic word using two-to-three syllables (the word “no” becomes “nuuuooow”) indicates to me a sense of pretentiousness and fabulousness, which perhaps they want to believe about themselves. Listen to the affectation of gay male clothing designers….they almost speak in another language altogether. Christian Siriano was born, I believe, in Baltimore and I am certain that his “affectation” has nothing to do with the Baltimore-dialect.

      Mar 9, 2014 at 3:54 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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