accent : Gay & Black Glossary
Gay people sometime affect an accent. There are many variants, but they all instantly identify the speaker as
gay. Characteristics may include: higher pitch, nasal whiny tone, drawing out the vowels, sometimes into several
syllables, campy vocabulary, hooker-tough snappy delivery, lisping or bleating.
- It is a strong coming out of the closet. The accent identifies as gay no matter what the occasion. It
cannot be easily turned off once learned.
- It educates the public that gays are more prevalent than they thought, and they are more varied than they
There is a particular gay home-designer, clothes-designer accent that does imply unusual competence and fashion
- It is a Steppin’ Fetchit action, playing into the expected stereotypes of the dominant a straights.
Think of the fat, high-pitched, nasal clowns that report gossip on celebrities. They exaggerate the gay
stereotype for the entertainment of straights much as shameless blacks entertained whites with
stereotype-reinforcing behaviour in earlier times.
- It is demeaning. The accents have the added implication of being harmless, ineffectual, silly, concern with
trivia, impotent and incapable, thus selling the message that all gays are eunuchs.
- Straight people come to assume all gays have such accents, and thus drastically underestimate the number of
gays and their variety.
- It reinforces negative stereotypes generally.
Another is a cold, efficient, arrogant, clipped accent that goes with immaculate grooming.
Your choice, as a gay is whether you will affect such an accent, not whether others will. You tend to pick up
the accent of those you hang out with whether you intend to or not.
Some people perceive any crisp accent or British accent as gay, perhaps because theatrical people are trained
to speak so plummily.
My personal choice has been to emphasize the slight English accent I picked up from older relatives and my
first grade teachers. I like to enunciate more clearly than usual. If I had my druthers, I’d sound like
Michael York or Peter O’Toole, even though I am a Canadian. I try to exclude any of the sloppy, vague,
speech that straight Canadian men affect. I want to sound precise, not prissy.