Saturday, July 21, 2012

The "Gay Accent" - It Exists!

The Scarlet Letter

A few months back, I read a blog entry by Zathyn Priest on the "gay accent". Up until then, I didn't know it was an actual accent. You may be thinking "No way. The whole idea of it is just offensive." It exists though and Zathyn talks about a theory as to why some men have it and others don't.

The thing is that Zathyn himself has that accent and has always had it. It increased when he hit puberty and he's always been very self-conscious about it, trying to eradicate it from his speech. So while some men who try to acquire it or have it and accentuate it, there are some who have it and hate it. Not surprising if they get bullied or mistreated for having it. An interesting fact is that there are gay and straight men who can have this accent, so it's not really based on the sexuality.

Anyway, Zathyn worked more on that blog article and posted the revised piece in the first edition of The Scarlet Letter, which is a newsletter for readers and writers of GLBTQ literature. They have all sorts of interesting material there and I'll be writing some articles for it in the future.

I'd like to quote a bit from Zathyn's article on the "gay accent":

"I started feeling extremely self-conscious when I spoke to people.  To sound like I did was distressing and I despised it.  It wasn’t a choice and I certainly wasn’t putting the accent on.  Many guys aren’t at all worried about it and, like I said, some even accentuate it.  For me, I wanted to curb it as much as possible.  It took about three years of continuous effort to get rid of the accent enough for me to gain confidence again in my speaking voice.  It meant being aware of inflections, of making a conscious effort to drop pitch, of taking stock of the way I pronounced different words, etc.  Naturally, as I’ve aged, my voice deepened more and I’m lucky enough to have a husky quality to it that helps counteract some more of the accent.  Even now, when I speak, I have to make that conscious effort to keep the accent to a minimum."

So, when you hear about a bullied teen being asked by the school to "tone down" their "gayness", it's not unlikely that they're talking about the accent. To that, Zathyn says:

"You may as well ask someone who doesn’t speak English as a first language to drop their French, German, or whatever accent."

Also, check this guy on YouTube. He talks about flamboyancy of gay men.

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