Who sounds ‘gay’?

Why do some men “sound gay” and others “sound straight?”

It’s the fascinating question asked today in a New York Times op-doc.

“Think about the language environment of the infant, and the toddler, and the pre-school child, and the elementary-school age,” says Benjamin Munson of the University of Minnesota’s Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences.

Every one of us is presented with lots and lots of the models of what language should sound like. So we hear men, we hear women, we hear kids our own age, we hear adults, we hear older adults. And in all of these interactions, we have different opportunities to emulate different aspects of those people’s speech.

(Video link)

“There’s no such thing as a fundamentally gay voice,” filmmaker David Thorpe cautions. “Plenty of men may sound gay, but their voices aren’t evidence that they are gay. What we call the ‘gay voice’ belongs to us all.