Gays: Whats up with the accent?

I have seen tour guides give entire tours with it, so I would assume that it is at least that one tour guides ‘natural’ voice.

hehe. Can’t say as that I do, ^^ ^^ :slight_smile:

Not knowing but one family that could even AFFORD -thinking- about having a butler, (and they are too cheap. :slight_smile: ) I can honestly say that I have never seen a Butler around his/her employeer (in other words, if I do know any Butlers I am unware that they are Butlers).
And although several people seem to be baffled that this “accent” exists, I too have known gay men who talk like this.

In the context of the aggressive OP, I’m wondering if I should throw a tantrum at this stereotype, or at least flounce a little.

Why? Probably because it’s been pumped through the media so much that they figure that’s how they’re supposed to act (Hey, there are morons for every group…). As a gay guy, I’ve never met anyone who spoke like that, and most gay guys I’ve talked with actually find that stereotypical speach to be rather annoying.

Actually, my straight friends speak that way occasionally, which makes for a lot more than anyone else I know. And usually to poke fun at the stereotype or other jokes like that.

Not to mention the few straight guys that catch hell because of people automatically assuming that those stereotypical speach patterns automatically marks them as gay.

I’ve kind of wondered about this too, and if “wondering” makes me a cretin, so be it. I find it interesting that people refer to a gay man’s tendency to “lisp;” if we’re all talking about the same strange verbal idiosyncracies, the stereotypical “gay accent” has always sounded, to ME, far more precisely enunciated. Run-on much? Anyhow…to my ear, there’s sort of precise enunciation + predominantly tenor pitch + slightly nasal tone = stereotypical “gay man accent.”

(Just really wanted to remark on that “lisp” thing. I’ve never heard a gay man lisp. Hell, I’ve heard less than a handful of people actually lisp in my whole life.)

Being in the insurance bidnes, I don’t like it when drivers try to collect fer fake accents. :slight_smile:

You know what they say about “assume”… it makes “u” look like a “huge moron”.

I’ve heard tour guides give entire tours in a “tour-guidy” speech pattern.

Therefore, they must speak like they are giving a tour for the entire day.

Yay, Captain Logic!

An accent aids in an identity. My accent is English, thus when I speak I am identifiably English. The words and figures of speach I use are adopted from what is around me. I wasn’t born with an English accent, I learnt it. And if I moved somewhere else I would probably adopt another accent, different figures of speach.

Part of being in a community and identifying with a community is blending in - if a large group of people speak the same way and you identify with that particular group, you’ll probably start to speak the same way too. If I wanted to blend in in California, I’d pick up a Californian accent and start saying “like, dude” a lot.

If there was a group of people who are gay and speak a certain way, and I wanted to identify myself as a member of their group, I’d pick up their speach patterns too. If all my friends pronounce “water” “throatwarbler mangrove” then, after getting over the initial laughter, I’d probably do it too.

People adopt accents to a greater or lesser degree and for different reasons. Gay culture puts emphasis on being proud of who you are, not hiding your sexuality. One way to do this is to pick up a recognisable “gay” accent and/or lexicon. You see Jack out of Will & Grace and you think “If I talk like him, people will identify me as gay and I want to be identified as gay”.

Is your problem the fact that people put on fake accents? Because I can assure you you weren’t born with yours. Your accent comes from the people that surround you, and how you want to be identified. If you’re Texan and proud of it, you’ll speak with a Texan drawl. If you’re from Boston and want people to know it, you’ll tell them you live in an “apahhhhtment”. It’s not a gay thing, it’s an identity thing.

As for when/where a gay accent developed, who knows? This is my educated guess: Remember that not so long ago, code words and euphamisms were completely necessary due to laws and the prejudices of society as a whole. There have always been ways to identify yourself as gay and I would guess it came out of that. You could wear a handkerchief in your back pocket or you could pronounce a certain word a certain way.

I suspect you’re talking about a “fey” accent - perhaps it comes from an early rather unsubtle way of identifying a man as gay - that he talks “like a girl”. And once that distinction has been made - a man who talks “like a girl” is gay, then an easy way to show that you’re gay without sticking a big sign on your head (and thus opening youself up to prosecution and persecution) is to adopt that accent. As time has gone on, that way of speaking has become exaggerated and now that in the free world we’re supposed to be free of prejudice (ha!) it’s a distorted version of that original signal of gayness. Now a fey accent can be celebrated rather than used as a signal and so it gets extended and adopted and parodied and varied. The use of a “gay accent” is nolonger a hint or a clue, it may be a celebration of gayness.

That said, I’ve got friends with a very “gay accent” who are straight and many gay friends who have nothing like a “gay accent” at all. It’s just down to the individual as to how to they speak. You have no place getting cross with people for speaking a certain way.

And maybe some of us speak like it naturally, for no better reason than we’ve always spoken like that since our voice broke, goddammit.

I’m spoken with a bit of a gay lilt since even before I knew I was gay.



  • s.e.

The OP needs to start sharing his stash; judging by his posting history, he has access to some awesome chemicals.

Now as for “gay accents”; what are you taking about? I’m a card-carrying Friend of Dorothy and I have never known anyone, gay or straight, who adopted an accent to advertise sexuality. That’s just nuts.

If we’re talking about “femme” voices on some gay guys, that’s just the way some guys speak. Some gay guys are more effeminate than others, and they have a bit of a lilt to their voices. So what? It’s just a variation, and it matters not one bit to one’s character, honor, or sexuality. Some fem guys can be ferocious tops!

I have been told that I have an accent–I grew up in the hills of Kentucky, and it shows sometimes when I talk.

Amen to that! For example, when did Tina Turner and Madonna become British?

Wow! Francesca and several others have made the points I was going to make but they did it much more eloquently than I would have.

My main point was going to be that this is probably a case of people modelling their behaviour to match a perceived stereotype to show affiliation with a certain culture / group. This works to show pride and also as a sort of code. This code would be more necessary for homosexuals, rather than heterosexuals, because heterosexuality is the usual societal norm / default. In other words, without given any prior knowledge or cues (accent, dress, etc.) most people will assume that an individual is heterosexual and not homosexual.

Speech patterns are just one way to give a subtle (or maybe not so subtle) cue that the speaker is homosexual. IMHO, this allows meetings to flow more easily than, say, walking up to somebody and saying: “Hi. My name is tevya and I’m homosexual. What is your sexual preference?”

It would be an interesting linguistic study to see how this particular speech pattern evolved into what it is today.

Also, as matt_mcl pointed out, some people just naturally speak this way.

IMHO, I think there is an interesting question in your OP but it is phrased rather poorly. Do not let your ignorance lead you into angry oubursts against a group of people. There are better ways to become educated. For example, Esprix has several “Ask the Gay Guy” threads going where these exact type of questions are raised and answered in a non-judgemental environement.

I drawl a little when I’m down south with the relatives. I more frequently say “y’all” and “fixin’ to.” Normally I suppose I have the Midwest nasal twang, and I say “youse guys” and “gonna.”

Did that help? Hope hope, cause reading your OP made me stupider. I’m hoping there’s some conservation of energy happening.

I think the OP has a fascinating and on-point question, so why the pile on?

As for those who think there’s no such thing as the flaming gay accent, come on down to NY and play volleyball with me in Chelsea – more drama queens than you can shake a stick at! You’ll learn the Flaming P.R. dialect, (It goes “no, no, no, Chiquita, your serve is O-U-T, out! unlike yourself”) among the variants of flaming gay talk. It does exist, and the 36 flavors of denial/accepatance of this here in this thread, doesn’t bespeak well of gay honesty. Look at this thread! 8 character abusements, 8 laugh-offs, 4 admittals, 2 encouragements and maybe 1 actual response. Fighting ignorance much?

On to the questions from the OP: How did the accent come about – I don’t believe the media invented it from whole cloth? It must have come from somwhere – Andover?

Do other countries have different gay accents? Is it an American thing? Do scottish gays just wear differnt tartans?

Isn’t this an insult to gaydar? I agree with the OP – why not have a giant neon sign saying “My only identity is a sexual one.” fer christ sake… Like we couldn’t tell? Why not have an self-identifier that’s a little less obvious. Maybe all gays could own weasels, or profess to.

Are there accent variants for top/bottom tg/bi/gay?

Are there GSL language coaches for those who can’t master the fine art of the nasal putdown?

OK, it’s a funny/touchy subject, and we’re in the SD pit – so if we’re all insulting cretins for asking, shoot us, but we’d still like to know the Straight Dope…

Oh, get over yourself Ace. You’ve been around here a while, no? The responses in this thread are perfectly typical Pit behavior. Some wise-cracks, some serious discussion, some flaming (in this case, really mild flaming). But most people are responding rationally. There is no pile-on here. (And I came in here hoping for one, since, due to some previous posts of his, I happen to think COM2Kid is a great big asshole. Just MHO.)

I have four words[sup]*[/sup]:

Christopher Lowell is straight.

That is all.


[sub]*Note I’m not asking you to believe those words, but that’s supposedly the truth.[/sub]

As a former Sociology major, let me take a wild stab at this. The group of people to which you refer are, for all intents and purpose, a smaller group within the society. Such groups often adopt different manners of speech, dress and so on. Possibly it is an identifier, or a way to show group solidarity, but I am not willing to speculate as to the motives.

Similar phenomenon can be observed is, for example, the affected speech patters of some African Americans, Teenagers and the like.

But I am guessing that you knew that and are just trying to stir up controversy and dissent. I base this conclusion on the fact that you put this post right in the pit. As a Sociological or cultural question (“why do smaller groups within a larger one tend to adopt different speech/dress etc?”) this is not a bad one and might even be interesting to talk about. As something to rant about, it is pretty pointless and dumb. Pretty much what I have come to expect from you.

Oh, and by the way, you’re not talking about a lisp, you’re talking about the sibiliant “s”, the bane of every gay men’s chorus director everywhere. (“Sounds like steam escaping!” - Dom Deluise, Blazing Saddles)

I’ve actually started saying, “Rock on!” since moving to California. :smiley:

But how is it spelled? :smiley:

Go girl!

OK, my darling English rose, it’s time for you to marry me. You can bring along that unintelligible little manchild of yours with you if you wish - I promise to feed him every day and take him for walks and everything! :smiley:

Thank you, thank you, thank you - well put.

{ahem} Please, go - you’ll make me blush! :o

And this question was, indeed, hashed out several times in those four threads.

Yer my new best friend. :smiley:

Dissing your opponents and/or gay comaradaery during a queer volleyball game is one thing. Do you expect that those boys speak that way to their CEO?

Having a fey/femme mode of speech is not solely indicative of being gay - that’s the stereotype. Do some gay guys have it? Sure. But so do some straight guys. What a shame for them, eh? :rolleyes: I’m starting to feel really sorry for Christopher Lowell right about now…


I know the “accent” (or voice mannerisms) you are talking about… obviously not all or even most gay people talk like that, but there is a specific manner of talking that is identified as “being gay” in our society.

This leads me to wonder… is there something analagous in other languages? Like do the French have a particular method of speech that their stand-up comediens use to do a “flaming gay” character?

Listen to Michel Serrault’s voice in La Cage aux Folles. His performance as Albin/“Zaza” is queenier than a playing card factory!