On the slow, laborious ascent of recovery from a miserable, largely bed-ridden week of having succumbed to the seasonal bug (the worst attack in several years this time), I wanted something none too serious and, maybe, a little uplifting for my mood. And this fitted the bill quite nicely, showing at a single-day screening, with the added attraction of being barely one and a quarter hours long. Were I to be subject to a fit of the coughs, sneezes and snifflings which I'm still getting (though decreasing in frequency), in a documentary-type film it I wouldn't matter too much if a temporary absence had been necessary, which it wasn't.
Director David Thorpe (above, with George
Takei) having lately split with his boyfriend, finds himself living as a
single man with two cats - and, moreover, is now in his forties (Oh,
horror of horrors, David! Do tell me what that's like.) With time to
muse on his life, which he does extensively to camera, though always
interesting, he focuses on one particular aspect of his life, viz his
'gay-sounding voice'. These days one would like to think that it's not a
big deal if ones manner of speaking gives an indication of ones
sexuality, whether that impression is erroneous or not, though it is a
thought-provoking subject. I don't recall myself being concerned about
sounding gay in my teenage and later years before I came out of the
closet. I didn't think I did anyway - though on hindsight I think I was
mistaken. I was more concerned then about giving away my sexuality in
how I dressed, walked and unintentionally revealing myself through
stereotypically 'campy' body language - that was what I was most nervous
of. Of course I'm talking about a time when being known to be gay was
about as undesirable as being a known paedophile is now. Everyone will have their
own stories of experiences on the subject.
relatives, friends and more celebrated personages on their own thoughts,
and tries to find out whether his own manner of speaking as a youngster
had given himself away before he himself had realised it. There are
some very interesting responses from those who grew up close to him.
was familiar with at least the names of nearly every one of his 'celebrities'
(all American), prominent among whom is David Sedaris. He also conducts
street interviews in New York and London.
lurking behind it all is a feeling of 'so what?' as regards the subject
matter. I can see some taking issue with his attempt to eliminate any
gay traces in his voice by undergoing sessions with a voice coach. It's
not quite clear why he feels he needs to do it. Is he afraid of turning
off any new potential partners? Does he fear for future employment
prospects? It all seems to be left up in the air and unresolved, but yet
his exploring the matter remains entertaining throughout. (A few laughs
there were, though not that many - also a couple of brief video
extracts showing kids being beaten up just for sounding 'faggoty'.)
also touches on when films in the 1940s and for several decades onwards
used gay-sounding voices as a shorthand for 'evil' (often along with
effeminate physical mannerisms - looking more pantomimic than reality).
There's also a reference to the way that in Disney animations the same technique is used - hardly conducive to giving children a healthy attitude towards what might be considered to be gay 'mannerisms'. However, this very interesting aspect is not treated with any real depth in this short, snappy film, but it just being addressed at all makes it worthwhile..
very curious has happened on the IMDb site for this film. As I write
this, 430 site users have given it an average rating of a mere 4/10, but
this is because 47% of these have, apparently, given it a score of just '1', which is patently
absurd. (A fairer average would, I think, be around 7 - 7.5). I surmise that someone has picked up on the word 'gay' in the
title and tried to sabotage others from supporting the film by, in some little known way, submitting this ridiculous score repeatedly. Another
scenario is that a gay person has taken exception with Thorpe for treating
this as a worthy subject anyway, and has similarly found a way to blow his particular own opinion out of all statistical proportion. I think if either of these two
possibilities has happened, the first is the more likely.
But, I did like it and the score I have submitted on IMDb is........................7.
1 hour ago