accent : Gay & Black Glossary



Gay people sometimes 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. People tend to absorb the accent of whomever they hang out with. Deliberate cultivation of a campy accent was common in the 1950s.



There is a particular gay home-designer, clothes-designer accent that does imply unusual competence and fashion sense.

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. I don’t hang out with gay people, so I have not acquired such an acccent.

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