I sat down with Dan Savage and director David Thorpe to talk about the delightful documentary "Do I Sound Gay," which probes the social issues surrounding a so-called "gay voice" and premiered this week at the Toronto International Film Festival. But the conversation kind of went all over the place, so here are some of the more far-reaching jaunts off-topic.
• The psychological irony of gay sexual icons
"I've always found it highly ironic, the construction worker, the Marine, the fireman, the truck driver, all the people that you associate with anti-gay violence are eroticized," Savage says. "That straight thug teenage voice that terrorized us when we were 15 is suddenly really arousing to us when we're 25. I just love that gay men dress up as the people that wanted to kill us and then f--- each other."
• Those dastardly Disney villains:
You don't see the gay villain in Disney films now the way you did," says Thorpe. "However, 'the Lion King,' 'Aladdin' are fixtures of our culture now. They're like 'the Wizard of Oz,' they're not going anywhere, and they are touchstones of our society. 'The Lion King' will be on Broadway forever, so I think it's important to unpack to cultural baggage of such monumental icons."
• The obsession with "straight-acting" in the gay community:
"When you're young, you're bullied by straight kids for seeming gay, and then you come out and you're bullied by other gay people for seeming gay," explains Savage. "When you're young and closeted, you police your behavior because you don't want to betray your gayness and out yourself. But then you come out and you're being policed on the desirability scale for the same reasons. That's not all gay people, that's not all gay culture. It's a certain subset of f---ing gay dumb f---s who you don't want to put your d--- in anyway and you shouldn't be listening to them."
• Changing marriage laws don't equal full gay acceptance
"It's a much slower process than we think it is, and we're still kind of struggling for racial equality, for gender equality," Thorpe says. "All these civil rights movements are still ongoing. There have been such enormous strides so fast for gay people that we forget that actually the prejudice is so deeply embedded in culture that it's going to take a while before we all really feel accepted and fully embraced and allowed to be ourselves."
• How long it will be until we have an openly gay president:
"It will be a James McGreevey thing, who was the governor of New Jersey and got involved in a sex scandal and came out. 'I am a gay American,' remember that?" Savage offers. "Or it will be a gay vice president and something bad will happen. But we've probably already had a gay president — Lincoln, McKinley. Teddy Roosevelt — nobody's that straight. What was he up to? What was he trying to prove?"
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