Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pride and Prejudice  

This is a fascinating mini-documentary from the New York Times about the idea of "sounding gay". I've always wondered if 90% of anyone's "gay-dar" is really just making assumptions from the way someone else talks, which I suspect is the case. It's a timely topic as it's Pride Weekend and I'm close enough to the Village/Boy Town/etc to see a few more gay couples enjoying the City. Knock yourselves out, spread thy tourist dollars about the town - I only wish I knew more things for visitors to do in Toronto - you know, other than march in a parade in garden variety fetish kit. I knew a guy in college who wasn't gay but really "sounded" gay and was incredulous when people suggested it. I also knew a classmate who was gay and agreed, "Oh - that guy is gay." despite us all knowing the person in question was married to a lovely young woman. Years ago I gave up guessing someone's sexuality. It's none of my business so why should it matter to me. It doesn't determine who they are, so why should I care? Plus, I'm terrible at it; male or female. Haircuts, speech patterns, body language or general je ne sais quoi, I have been repeatedly proven wrong. So I gave up on that as a pointless endeavor that said more about me than anything else.

Thus I openly acknowledge, I have absolutely no spidey-sense or alleged "gay-dar". "God-dar" on the other hand… I can spot a fundamentalist or conservative Christian within 100m. Are their trousers slightly too high? Are there shirts too ill-fitting (why are they so concerned about covering their nipples?) Is their body language in the manner of someone with some kind of stick up their ass? Is it something in the eyes? An over sincerity? Yes. Yes to all of it and many more subtle clues, like quoting Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Oh right, that guy! Mention that guy more than once a year and bingo-bango-bongo, you've revealed what I had already guessed: that you are going to piously tell me that I'm not getting to Paradise anytime soon. If it's the same Paradise I know, that's okay, I'll take a pass. As the song goes, "I've been to Paradise, and once is probably enough…"

Another reason I find this topic so interesting is I'm self-conscious about the way I speak. I have no discernible Newfoundland accent. I can barely fake one. I mean, I guess I could put on a St. John's accent, but in general if I tell someone I'm from Newfoundland they seem confused, saying that I don't sound like I'm from The Rock. I'm not sure it's just that I've lived in Ontario longer than Newfoundland either. The week after I had moved to Ottawa to go to school people were genuinely surprised I was from St. John's. Where did my accent or lack of one come from? Additionally, over the last decade, my teeth have migrated hither, thither and yon, such that I've developed a slight over-bite leaving me with a distinct sibilant "s" meaning I have a slurry, hissing sound anywhere the "s" is found - which is a lot of places. I probably over think it and if I'm on the phone or speaking in a meeting, I consciously try to deemphasize the sound. It's really hard to do. It's hard enough to form an intelligent sentence never mind worrying about how you sound. The conclusion of the video is a surprise and another lesson in why we should all worry a whole lot less about how someone sounds and listen to what they are saying instead.



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