Thorpe looks butch in his film's opening ... but he worries that when he opens his mouth, a purse falls out.
BOY CULTURE REVIEW: **1/2 out of ****
In a documentary that's currently the buzz of the industry, filmmaker David Thorpe sets out to get some answers—and there is invariably more than one—to the age-old question: Do I Sound Gay? The casual, at times distressingly personal film raises questions about masculinity, sexual identity and self-image that are applicable to many gay men by chronicling his own personal struggle with how he sounds ... and how he thinks he sounds.
Thorpe has thought he sounds very gay for decades, and his friends agree. Where they're less agreeable is when he begins a mini-odyssey to change the timbre of his voice. We are not really used to gay stories being put forth with self-doubting gay heroes ... our community's message has been defiantly self-accepting for even longer than Thorpe has leaned on his sibilant S.
Visiting a voice coach, he's told people code-switch—raise or lower tones to communicate things like authority or affection—but all he cares about is not sounding like a “braying ninny.” Probably not fair, then, that one of the words on a list he reads to practice not sounding gay is “dynasty.” He's the right age that he probably couldn't help envisioning Joan Collins as he tried to utter it as someone, well, less gay might.
Thorpe's fragile ego is put forth to us the way you extend your hand to a dog—friends?—and for many viewers, I think his honesty will work. For me, it worked until it didn't, which was when the aggregate of his open-and-honest exclamations regarding his troubling voice made him come off as kind of on the verge of aspiration ally ex-gay. He's not ex-gay, but he wants his tongue to be.