Why Do Gay Men Embrace "The Wizard of Oz"?
Children are captivated by The Wizard of Oz, and not just those destined to be gay - although it does hold a special place in the hearts of many gay men. But from research I've done on the subject I've learned that it took a while before gay men embraced the movie, and it was largely due to their idolization of the movie's supremely talented, and ultimately tormented, Judy Garland.
It's ironic that this flight of fantasy opened in theaters on August 25, 1939, one week before Germany invaded Poland, setting the stage for the grim reality of World War II. Another irony is that WWII brought together so many men in close quarters for the first time - and it's where many, based on first person accounts, had their first homosexual experiences.
So what gives The Wizard of Oz its gay sensibility? The following items I've listed are based on today's sensibilities, but they had no such resonance when the movie first appeared.
- Dorothy's ruby slippers
- Glinda the Good Witch's arrival in her bubble
- The fashionable floorlength shearling coats worn by the storm troopers guarding the Wicked Witch's castle
- The Enchanted Forest, which is what Fire Island's Meat Rack is sometimes referred to
- Dorothy's non-traditional family of the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion
- Oz, a metaphor for New York City? (the skyline suggests it)
Interestingly, despite all of the above, Judy's mantra of "there's no place like home" doesn't ring true for many gays because it's likely that their hometown is the place they chose to escape.
I would like to add that Jack Haley's portrayal of the Tin Man is the second gayest incarnation of a "robot" on film, coming in right behind (pun intended) C3PO from the Star Wars movies! :)
Posted by: tg | 08/13/2012 at 09:21 AM
Thanks for your comment. Perhaps I'll write a future post on gay-ish sidekicks!
Posted by: Rob | 08/13/2012 at 11:59 AM