The dimensions of communication and the intersections of identity are complex. We have been socialized to speak in a local cultural context from birth, sometimes even earlier if you the had the kind of mom who would put headphones on her belly. This educational process is tacit, and we do not reflect on it for most of our lives. That why people get so excited and rowdy about “soda” v.s. “Pop”-- which is a conversation that I go the rest of my life without hearing again. So the question is: when does they way we talk reveal too much about us?
As a grown man in my early twenties, I was cyberbullied in February over “xbox live” (which is a genuinely absurd and therefore funny statement to admit). The context is is that I bested the enemy team by myself and after their match I received an invitation to their group chat. I generally would not have accepted, put I was feeling cool and decided to let my hair down. I was immediately overwhelmed with insults, and when I would try to get a word in I was made of fun for my “gay voice”.
This has been a motif in my life: I usually do not have to come out to most people because use their context clues and the stereotypes that I do and do not conform to. I have to assume that a large part of this is because of how I sound. I was deeply closeted and being able to take ownership of how I present myself changed the game for me. I’m a natural showman, and presenting my voice with a lot of lift is fun.
In that sense, the gay voice is performative; however most of us make verbal communicative choices unknowingly. For example on the “Youtube” video “Who Sounds Gay” video by the “New York Times”, a man learns that he enunciates the way we expect women to. Our culture likes to feminize homosexual men therefore a man with the speaking patterns of a woman would be expected to be gay. However these patterns are highly subjective and change incredibly quickly. Most aspects of identity are intelligible through voice alone-- except geography and multilingualism-- yet assumptions about sexuality based on voice prevail.