February 1, 2024

Why Do Gay People Have Lisps?

We've all heard the stereotype: a man who identifies as gay sounds feminine, with a higher pitch and more melodious speech pattern. It's the voice we imagine Nathan Lane uses in The Birdcage, or Buddy Cole from Kids in the Hall. In truth, many homosexual men do speak in a more feminine tone—but that doesn't make them gay.

Research suggests that the "gay voice" may not be tied to sexual orientation, after all. A 2003 study had listeners rate a set of recordings from heterosexual, lesbian, and gay men to determine whether they lisped or not. The resulting ratings showed that gender, not sexual orientation, was the most significant factor in a person's voice.

Some experts say that some homosexual men do sound more feminine because of their environment or how they were raised. Other factors include their peers and self-identification. For example, a young butch man who is around female peers may sound more feminine because of his social circle and the way they speak.

But what does this mean for the LGBTQ community? Some people feel uncomfortable using the word fag, or faggot, as a derogatory term. Others believe that heterosexist attitudes can contribute to homophobia and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. And while it can be challenging to openly identify as LGBTQ, reducing prejudice and discrimination can start with an individual's belief systems. Then, individuals can take steps to reduce prejudice in their communities, including their workplaces and schools.

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