A new study in the Journal of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences finds that many gay men deepen their voices when first meeting someone so as to exude greater masculinity.

Researchers at the University of Surrey in England, Instituto Universitario in Portugal, and University of Padua in Italy surveyed 241 people—straight, gay, and lesbian—and found that most individuals modify their voices during initial encounters because of their sexual orientation.

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The study found that straight men, more than any other group, want their sexuality immediately known when speaking to someone new. However, University of Surrey reports, “gay men and lesbian women showed no desire for their voice to disclose their sexual orientation as it could potentially make them unwanted targets of prejudice.”

Research also indicates men believe their voices give away their sexual orientation more than women do, suggesting gay men are more concerned about vocal stereotypes than lesbians.

“What we have learnt in this study is that individuals share stereotypes about voice as an indicator of sexual orientation,” says Dr. Fabio Fasoli, Research Fellow at the University of Surrey. “Fears of discrimination and being subject to unwanted stereotyping may lead people to alter their voice, in particular men trying to sound more masculine to conform to social norms.”

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“It is disappointing that in 2018 stereotypes about masculinity/femininity persists and fears of being misidentified/identified as gay and lesbian still exists,” Fasoli continues. “This may explain why a person feels the need to alter how they present themselves.”

Last year a study in Archives of Sexual Behavior found that job applicants who “sound gay” are less likely to get hired.

David Thorpe explored the self-consciousness associated with the “gay accent” in his 2015 documentary Do I Sound Gay?
 

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