What causes 'effeminate' speech patterns in gay men?

First, I am not trying to offend anyone. I have deep respect for, and am very committed to the causes of the LGBT community.

This is a serious question, out of pure curiosity. Is it nature, nurture, some combination of both? Obviously not all gay men have these speech patterns (in fact, it’s almost certainly a minority that do), but I do not believe it is something intentional, or cultivated.

So, I’m looking to explore this question from a standpoint of the hard and soft sciences (genetics, psychology, sociology, etc.).

Darn, this is a damn good question. I’m curious to hear the answers.

Of course a bunch of people will be in soon to tell you that you’re completely mistaken (and possibly bigoted) and that gays do not speak in an effeminate way. Ever.

It’s just an affect. There is nothing physiological that “causes” it.

Why do you think anyone would say this?

I’ve known way too many boys that spoke effeminately from their youth, were made fun of for it and yet couldn’t self-correct it, and much later in life came out as gay, for me to believe this.

Must see if there is any science.

If it’s an affect, what is the urge?

I think confirmation bias causes it, honestly. You hear it, you queer it, and you go on with your day. Rarely do you find out the actual orientation of the speaker, I suspect.

I had three classmates for the last two years I coulda sworn were gay - and did when engaged in idle gossip. We ALL “knew” that these guys were gay - not just because of speech, but mannerisms, dress, etc. - only to have them show up at graduation with significant female others, and whaddaya know, their Facebooks (which I didn’t Friend until after graduation) are marked “Interested in Women”. Yet all three had that “effeminate” speech pattern commonly associated with gay men. None of them grew up in the same area, either, so it’s not a regional dialect.

Had I not known them long enough, I would have continued to think, “gay male nursing students, what a surprise…” and been completely and totally wrong, but certain that I had three more data points in favor of the effeminate speech=gay theory.

By “urge,” do you mean motivation? That’s an interesting question. I imagine it’;s the same kind of motivation that makes suburban white kids try to talk like Snoop Dog. It’s an identifyer, a style, and I would venture to guess maybe a defensive mechanism as well.

1995 column.

Previous thread.(2008)

This is so anecdotal and confirmation biased that it isn’t worth much. There are straight guys who have some effeminate speech and mannerisms too. Of course, what constitutes “effeminate” is largely subjective as well.

Yep. I was one of them. Although it wasn’t ‘much later’ in life that I came out. I knew I was gay before I even knew what gay was.

Darn, that’s why I thought it was an interesting topic in the first place. I understand what you mean: “I’m gay, yeah let’s embrace it” like bears going into ubermachoness.
And then both Whynot and rhubarbarin make interesting points, I have experienced both of what they described. Guys with somewhat effeminate manners that seemed to fit the stereotype but then clearly revealed themselves as straight. But, was it that at the time I found them a bit effeminate that they were not totally sure themselves of their tastes?
And, on the other hand, I have known guys (greater proportion that the above group), with effeminate manners, and came out as gay later. But, was it that they too could have gone either way, and the peer pressure pushed them into the role they seemed to fit?

I’m always curious about the way to gay. Is it something very ambivalent, and it could go either way for a lot of people, especially at a certain times in their life (I’m thinking mostly teen-young adult years), or something always there from the start that just awaits for the proper circumstances to reveal itself (both to the world and to the person) ?
P.S: I was buying some cigs this morning, and the guy next to me was checking his money, while I was getting my chagne back. Just as I was putting my wallet back, the guy makes his order, and he talked in a clearly effeminate way. I had barely paid any attention to him prior to that, but as I was listening I checked him, and bingo, he pings on my gaydar. Was wondering all morning if it was total confirmation bias or if it was proper decoding of a signal sent. Hence my interest in the question.

P.S2:Related to the subject, I’d be curious in gay dopers having a totally mistaken gaydar reading on a guy with effeminate speech.

'Cause this is the 'Dope. :slight_smile:

Like Lyle, The Effeminate Heterosexual!

I once had a close friend who was prolifically “active” in the gay scene - probably dangerously so. He would sometimes point out guys in public to me or others and say, “he’s gay.” These weren’t people he knew, just like random guys at the mall or something. They were very rarely stereotypically effeminate or flaming. I would ask him how he could tell. He said that cruising wasn’t really about looking for mannerisms or speech, but that it was all about eye contact. That’s the cue they rely on, not a walk or a talk.

Moved MPSIMS --> IMHO.

Actually it was later proved that randomness was the key factor of his method. “It all evens out in the end” he was reported saying.

Get back to us on them in 20 years.

David Sedaris has a great chapter in his book “Me talk pretty someday” on all the kids in speech therapy in his elementary school that ended up being gay. Obviously his book is meant to be funny, but it touched on this cultural idea.