David Thorpe is not a professional (or at least an established) documentarian, so his debut feature “Do I Sound Gay?” has a few more rough edges than most films put out by a distributor like IFC. But given his background as a journalist, he gets to more answers than most.
In just 77 minutes, Thorpe’s film begins with a personal exploration of insecurities surrounding the sound of his own voice and opens a treasure trove of other issues. He starts from the beginning with how vocal cadences and intonations become an early target for bullying, forcing many children into a painful closet. While at this life stage, he also questions why so many speech therapy patients turn out to be gay (oh, societally constructed norms, at it again).
He then moves beyond just the what and moves into the why. Where does this voice – traditionally nasal, high-pitched with elongated vowels – come from? Why has it become such a key identifier for homosexuals? Why do so many, including those within the gay community, find it so repellant? How does it perpetuate stereotypes? Many answers are surprising, uncovering pockets of homophobia and even misogyny that deserve address and redress.
Thorpe does slightly fumble the ending, trying to make the jump from talking about the voice of a person to LGBT Americans finding their voice in culture. Sure, it’s a bit corny – though it hardly detracts from the fascinating points, both practical and philosophical, that Thorpe raises throughout “Do I Sound Gay?” B+ /