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Crowdfunder’s Forum: David Thorpe On His New Documentary, Interviewing David Sedaris, and What’s So Bad About Sounding Gay (Nothing)

Crowdfunder's Forum: David Thorpe On His New Documentary, Interviewing David Sedaris, and What's So Bad About Sounding Gay (Nothing)

Crowdfunder’s Forum is a new regular feature on /bent (and a sibling to our Filmmaker’s Forum features) that allows LGBT media makers to offer first person accounts of the projects they are currently pitching to potential funders through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. This edition features David Thorpe, director of the star-studded and fascinating-sounding new documentary “Do I Sound Gay?”

In 2012, when I went
to the United Kingdom to interview writer David Sedaris for my forthcoming feature
documentary DO I SOUND GAY?, I was so nervous that I got into a car
accident. I’d like to blame the accident on the fact that 1) I’m a New
Yorker and rarely drive and 2) that I was driving in England on the wrong side
of the road. However, I hit a parked car, so those excuses don’t really hold

Here’s a short video clip of
me terrifying my cameraman.

Sometimes “drive” is what you
need. Sometimes you drive into a parked car.

When I reached out to
David, I never thought he would actually agree
to be interviewed for DO I SOUND GAY? However, I knew that I couldn’t live with
myself if I didn’t ask. It’s not just that David is famous. (I’ve been dead-set
on finishing this film no matter who spoke to me, even if it was just my
mother.) It’s that I would have regretted not doing absolutely everything to
make the best movie I could. David wrote one of the best popular culture
accounts of the cultural stereotype that gay men lisp. If you haven’t read it,
you should:  It’s called “Go
Carolina,” in the classic collection Me Talk Pretty One Day.

I’ve been working on DO I
SOUND GAY? since 2011. I’ve stuck with it despite some gut-wrenching setbacks.
Like every filmmaker, I’ve had my share of hard-to-swallow no-thank-yous and
dismissive pats on the head, yet I knew that I wouldn’t be able to live with
myself if I didn’
t keep


I’m in the middle of raising
finishing funds for DO I SOUND GAY? on Kickstarter and its one the most
ambitious Kickstarter campaigns ever for a personal documentary.
Technically, yes, DO I SOUND GAY? is a personal doc, but I wouldn’t have given
everything up (my day job, my nights and weekends, my waistline) for three
years if it were merely personal.

Since the campaign to finish
DO I SOUND GAY? began, men have been sharing their stories with us and with
bloggers like Andrew Sullivan, who has been posting them to his popular blog
The Dish. Here’s a sampling of what people are saying: “Since I hated
and feared this type of voice, when I matured sexually I found it a total
sexual turn-off in others,” and “I distinctly remember watching the
bullying and telling myself, ‘Whatever you do, don’t ever talk with that
kind of voice. Even when you’re an adult and able to be openly gay, always keep
your voice masculine to avoid being harassed.'” We’ve heard empowering
things, too, such as  “I was working for a survey company, and I
used to get questions all the time asking where I was from. One time I called
up someone, started going into my spiel, when the fellow interrupted me and
said ‘YOU SOUND QUEER’ and hung up. Never got a chance to
congratulate him for giving a right answer.”

The interview with David
turned out so beautifully (I’ll just say we rode bikes) and is likely to be so
integral to the story structure of DO I SOUND GAY? that I don’t want to give
too much away on that front. I get Sliding
chills thinking about what might have happened if I hadn’t allowed
for—if not quite believed in—in the possibility of a yes

You just never know how things
will turn out. Like that car accident. While I was registering the
horror of 1) dealing with a collision in a foreign, albeit English-speaking,
country and 2) possibly being late for the most important interview of my
life, the owner of the car stormed out of a Subway chain restaurant (as it
turns out, they have those in England), swinging a sandwich and yelling,
“How did you manage to hit a parked car?” 

I stepped out of the
rental and said, “I’m so sorry, I’m from the U.S.!” He suddenly
looked abashed. I noticed he had an earring (and not the tough-guy kind).
After he took all my information, he said, “It’s a pity we had to
meet under these circumstances.” 

What’s so bad about sounding gay again? 

Find out more about “Do I Sound Gay?” and donate to its Kickstarter campaign here.

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