Film

Journalist David Thorpe Uses Documentary to Find His Voice

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One of the most surprising admissions in the documentary “Do I Sound Gay” is that 40% of people in one study had their sexual preference misidentified because of the way they sound.

Journalist David Thorpe, 40-something and single, let his self-consciousness lead him to investigate why he sounds the way he does, has he always sounded that way, and can he change it.

Thorpe takes viewers along on his thoughtful, funny, and informative investigation, which includes man-in-the-street interviews that reveal that a lot of people are self-conscious about the way they sound. He goes on fact-finding dinners with close friends to appointments with a speech therapist and interviews with such “authorities” as writers David Sedaris and Dan Savage, CNN anchor Don Lemon, and celebrities George Takei and Margaret Cho.

Thorpe’s search to find his voice might be of interest especially to mainstream audiences who might wonder why gay men talk “that way.” Hearing how as children some were bullied and called “faggot,” or worse, reveals what an impact speech patterns can have.

Among Thorpe’s discoveries are that sounding gay may be learned from a young age, and that some straight people do in fact talk “that way” as well. He introduces 15-year-old Zach King, a self-described “diva,” and the phone footage that shows Zach being beaten in a classroom for the way he talks. Thorpe recalls that he started getting called “faggot” in middle school.

“Where,” he asks during his search for answers, “did my gay voice come from?

While the filmmaker’s fact-finding mission is fun, it feels more investigative than merely entertaining, like something more likely seen on television than the big screen. The film has been, however, a festival favorite, premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival.

“Do I Sound Gay?” is currently playing at the Sundance Sunset Cinemas in Los Angeles, and opens in other theaters around the country this weekend.

See www.doisoundgay.com for more details about screenings.

Journalist Laurie Schenden covers the entertainment industry, with many of her notable celebrity interviews appearing in the Los Angeles Times and other national and international publications. As a longtime columnist and feature writer for the LA Times, she also covered events and California destinations for the lifestyle, Outdoors and Travel sections. Laurie Schenden's international pieces include the long-running Where Are They Now celebrity feature for Spotlight Magazine, published in five languages. Laurie has also contributed to numerous documentary films, and is currently producing a documentary for her own company, Saving Grace Films.

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