Accentuate the Pothitive

After work yesterday I met up with Matt to lay claim to some of the things he’s selling in his apartment. After poking around Matt’s General Store, I came away with three cases of iced tea (Lipton, Nestea and Snapple), two stools, an autographed photo of Debbie Harry, a nice abstract painting, a movie advertisement for Annie Hall, and a realistic fake-plant*

Realizing that this was too much to carry home, I called Rich to see if he was interested in taking anything and if he could give me a lift. He and his 19 year old brother, Carl (who is visiting from Illinois), drove to Matt’s and helped me load up the stuff (Rich got some rare Barbra Streisand movie posters out of the deal).

Feeling hungry, Rich, Carl and I headed into the North End to find some grub. After eating on Hanover Street we started walking back to my place. We overheard some locals talking in their thick Boston accents so the topic of our conversation turned to accents. I commented that despite being raised on Cape Cod by a Boston-bred mother and a native Cape-Codder father, I didn’t think I developed the accent. To my relief, Carl said he agreed. But then he finished his sentence with “but you do have the gay accent.”


What the hell? Apparently, there is a universal gay accent that straight people are aware of. Of course I begged to find out what the charactersitics were of this gay accent. Is it lisping? Is it the use of exagerration when making a point? Carl said he couldn’t pinpoint it – but said it exists….and I have it. He said it also usually involves the use of hands when speaking (which I do).

Now I’m paranoid. I’m not sure if I should be upset, though. It’s funny, about 8 years ago I worked as an office manager for a telemarketing company. One day, this man called because he wanted to speak with one of the telemarketers that had left a message on his voicemail. He didn’t know her name but told the supervisor that she “sounded black.” The african-american employee and her african-american manager were livid. Absolutely fuming. I never really understood their anger at the time.

I think I have an idea now.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not angry with Carl. But I always thought I didn’t stand out in anyway – whether it be overtly gay, or overtly white, or overtly New England, or overtly anything. But knowing that complete strangers can peg me as a certain type of person is a bit unnerving.


*I only seem to be able to keep fake plants alive. Even scarier – I’m not even good at that. On the way from Matt’s apartment to Rich’s truck, I dropped the plant and it fell apart. I did manage to reassemble it the best way I could.


  1. Comment by Jay on March 25, 2005 11:06 am

    If you were really gay, that fake plant would look like new right now. And yes, there is a “gay accent” and you have it bad.

    Love ya! Jay

  2. Comment by Thom on March 25, 2005 11:34 am

    And Karl? I’ve always thought that your writing has that gay style, too! 😉

  3. Comment by chrispy on March 25, 2005 11:36 am

    the gay accent is usually a mixture of over-enthusiasm/hysteria and hyper-enunciation of vowels and nasal timbre (as in a “gay voice”). i think you have the “hysterical” part in there…but its not like you have a louis vuitton purse falling out of your mouth when you speak, its only when you get excited about some topic or issue……and so what if people can peg you for one type of person another? i think thats a good thing! it automatically filters out the people you DONT want to meet!… brave, GO GAY!

  4. Comment by David on March 25, 2005 1:15 pm

    Hmmm. Let me think. No limp wrist. I don’t think I hear it in the voice. Maybe a little swish in the walk…….
    And we need to discuss the purchases….

    Oh, and by the way, using the headset at work, people always call me Ma’am.

  5. Comment by Karl on March 25, 2005 1:18 pm

    Wait? Now I swish when I walk And I’m “hysterical” when I’m excited?

    This is getting worse.

  6. Comment by jeff on March 25, 2005 1:45 pm

    It so exists – but it’s so hard to nail down too. Watch some gay guys chat and then watch some straight guys chat, there’s a big difference. Then watch them in a mixed crowd and you can almost always pick out the gay guys. I fall victim here too – get me going on something I’m interested in I’ll be talking and stuff and I’ll fall right into it.

  7. Comment by karyn on March 25, 2005 3:52 pm

    Oh whatever! You’re just you. And it’s funny as crap when you’re hysterical by the way. (Not hysterical sad, but hysterical over, say, someone’s errant comment that you have a gay accent. Now look here, I knew you for years and never caught on and I heard you talk and watched you walk and saw your writing for years. Chill, darling. Chill.)

  8. Comment by Erica on March 25, 2005 4:28 pm

    The “accent” is part of the package of “gay” mannerisms, really – it’s not like it’s a true separate accent anyway. It’s like a layer of inflection over someone’s natural accent. But I don’t think you have it, at least not to any mentionable degree. I think what it really is, is that gay men are more comfortable using stereotypically “feminine” extremes of emotional expressiveness in speaking. Many women speak with more lilt, end their questions on an up note, etc. Gay men seem to have adopted this pattern more so than straight men, whose stereotyped pattern is gruffer and less expressive.

    And there’ll always be people like me, who are so used to stereotypically gay mannerisms I now have very desensitized gaydar. Maybe Carl doesn’t see queer folks much. You hardly ping very loud, anyway.

  9. Comment by matt on March 25, 2005 5:20 pm

    you broke the plant?

  10. Comment by Will on March 27, 2005 12:40 am

    I’ve talked with my hands my entire life–I’m Italian. Of course, I’m also gay. I need a control group in here somewhere. Karl, you’re fine–stop worrying.

  11. Comment by David on March 28, 2005 9:17 am

    I was kidding! You don’t swish at all!!
    Stop being so self concious.

  12. Comment by David in Chicago on March 30, 2005 8:29 am

    That poor plant. What did it do in its former life in a plastic field to deserve such treatment?

  13. Comment by marria on August 18, 2005 9:03 pm

    News on every hour.

  14. Comment by Offshore Sailing on September 7, 2005 12:43 pm

    Sailing Holidays

  15. Comment by Body Language on September 17, 2005 10:33 am

    Greek Language

  16. Comment by Car Accessory on September 19, 2005 10:57 am

    Auto Purchase

  17. Comment by Extreme Sports Video on October 28, 2005 7:34 am

    Bedding Extreme Sports

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