The proposed research project will investigate vocal characteristics that are taken to be clues that a person is gay or lesbian. Building on existing research in linguistics and social psychology, we will assess heterosexual people’s beliefs about the existence and origins of such vocal cues, and examine how such cues affects modern prejudice against gay men and lesbian women. We will examine the relationship between heterosexual people’s beliefs about such cues and their uses of them to guess speaker’s sexual identities. We will also examine lesbian, gay and bisexual (LBG) people’s corresponding beliefs about vocal cues and their strategies for navigating everyday situations where they are judged because of the way that they speak. In two later projects we explore the implications of the vocal cue for differential treatment of employees and of leaders in the workplace and for understanding “reclaimed” derogatory language terms, such as queer, as communication among LGB people. The project will be informed by stakeholders from beyond academia and is timely in its focus on subtle forms of prejudice that are emerging in European societies where support for LGB equality is increasingly a social norm.
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