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#101
Old 08-11-2006, 11:31 AM
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Here's the Wikipedia entry on Oz:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Oz

There's a list of all the Oz books, each of which links to an article which gives the plot of the book. Go through the plots of the first fourteen books (those that Baum wrote). Tell me just how many events in those books, even in a strained Freudian interpretation, can be taken as having some homosexual connotation (or even a transsexual connotation). Lots of odd events happen in the books, but I don't see how they could be taken as generally implying anything about Baum's sexual orientation, even if you insist on this Freudian business of taking things said about a character as applying to the author.

As far as I can tell, there was no connection made between male homosexuals and the 1939 movie (and Judy Garland) until the early 1950's, and this connection began to be considered an older, fading image of male homosexuals by the late 1960's. It's likely that Garland first became a gay icon in the early 1950's when she made her first return to fame after fading in popularity in the 1940's. She certainly wasn't thought of as a gay icon in 1939. She was the all-American girl back then who everyone thought would become a great actress and singer as an adult. By the early 1950's, it was clear that she would have a turbulent life and career. She was already thought of as a tragic figure. This sort of tragic, drama-queen singing diva was exactly the sort of figure that became gay icons back then.

It was probably around that time that gay men began looking at the 1939 movie _The Wizard of Oz_, which after a period of neglect had begun to be shown every year on TV, and started seeing things in it which fit into their gay-icon worldview. They saw it as being about only being able to find happiness in a dream world. When they connected this with the tragic image of Garland, they decided that this all fit together and made the movie and Garland gay icons.

The interesting thing is that this is at wide variance with the books (and even with the movie). In the books, Oz is not a dream world. It's a real world which is repeatedly visited in the Oz series. Dorothy Gale in the books is not a tragic figure. The filmmakers changed this to make Oz merely part of Dorothy's dreams. I'm not sure why. Maybe they thought that straight fantasy wouldn't be popular. They movie is much more sentimental than the books. In the books, Dorothy is not a poor lost girl who only thinks of home but an adventurer. Maybe it was just that movies with tragic women who long for home and can't find happiness were popular that year. After all, _Gone with the Wind_ also came out that year.

(Incidentally, the song "Somewhere over the Rainbow" encapsulates the search for happiness in some unattainable world. I think it's a great song, but I also don't think that Judy Garland did that great a version of it in the movie. The version by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is distinctly better. The version by Eva Cassidy is better yet.)

Interestingly then, by the time that Judy Garland died in 1969, the whole business of gay men making tragic-diva figures into gay icons had faded. By the late 1970's, it was clear that tragedy was out and gay men were into a hyper-masculinity thing. It appears to me that this was already true in 1969. In the movie _Midnight Cowboy_ (that year's Oscar winner), a young man from Texas goes to New York thinking he can hustle rich women with his cowboy stud image. People there tell him that rich woman don't like that anymore, but if he wants to hustle gay men that they are into that sort of thing.
#102
Old 08-11-2006, 12:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner
(Incidentally, the song "Somewhere over the Rainbow" encapsulates the search for happiness in some unattainable world. I think it's a great song, but I also don't think that Judy Garland did that great a version of it in the movie. The version by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is distinctly better. The version by Eva Cassidy is better yet.)
Blasphemy! Blasphemy!
#103
Old 08-12-2006, 03:21 AM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pansy_Craze

A brief history of gay culture in the 20' and 30's

Quote:
"By 1940 laws were so strict that even the internationally famous female impersonator Julian Eltinge (who had been a huge star of stage and screen with wide mainstream acceptance and success) could not get a waiver from the LA police to perform in drag so for his act he was forced to wear a tux and point to his gowns hanging on racks behind him! After the relative freedom of the 1920's and 1930's it became increasingly difficult for gay performers to find work.The 1920's and 1930's saw the emergence of notable and visible Gay and Lesbian presence and subculture in various cities in the USA. In many way's New York City set the tone -particularly in it's "bohemian artistic enclaves" of Greenwich Village and Harlem as well as in the cabarets and speakeasies around the Broadway Theater District centered on Times Square. "

Mine
As a result of the puritan social norms developing in the 40's. The 1939 version of "The Wizard of Oz" got shelved until 1959 IIRC. Sure it was shown a few times but not televised. It was at this point the modern gay culture began associating with Oz.
BUT That does not change the fact that Oz had been popular in the gay community prior to this version of OZ.
If necessary I can list a bunch of actors, screenwriters, directors etc. with bi/gay sexual preferences that worked on the many versions of OZ.

Someone said previously that the OP referred ONLY to the '39 version. I didn't read it that way. The OP says.
Quote:
Why is the movie "The Wizard of Oz" stereotypically associated with gay male culture?
Now perhaps that is what was meant. I don't know. It seems open to debate.
I would agree the PRIMARY reason is similar to that which I think we all agree.
Oz appeals to everyone at some emotional level but the challenges our "heroes" face are in some ways even more
like those faced by gays. Especially in the 50' and 60's when gay culture was trying to make a come back. Judy's father just made her more sympathetic and the fact that she was a terrific performer didn't hurt matters.

Now, if y'all want me to continue my case on the fact that Oz has always been appreciated by the gay community, even prior to '39 I will. If not that's cool too.

(BTW please check out the links I've cited and read the whole article if you're gonna start discrediting my POV. This has been done more than once so far.
I haven't pointed any fingers at the vast number of strawmen, red herrings, ad hoc, beg the question...plus every fallacy and false logic I didn't mention. So please let's keep this respectful. If any of the first five points I've argued don't hold water explain.)

they were
1) Judy is gay icon
2) Cukor was gay
3) pre-1939 OZ was a success
4) gay/queer terms for homosexuals used pre-39
5) there was gay sub-culture in pre-39
I think my last two or three post have established points 4 & 5 as fact. Actually I think every point made thus far is fact.

How about an extra point while we're at it? Can you give me this one?

6)The Wizard if Oz, it's characters and the language could be interpreted as stereotypically gay. Especially by the gay community?


Now how about a list of the theaters in which Oz was performed and the cast/crew at that time?
While I'm at it, I'll get a list of quotes from the book in which gay or queer was used as a description. Okay?

see ya soon ~JB
#104
Old 08-12-2006, 06:16 AM
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I'm gonna start sewing this thing together a bit. I'll probably have to do it piece by piece so be patient. Thanks

Just a few tidbits about Judy Garlands mentor and one of MGM's head guys.

Quote:
Roger Edens was Judy Garland's mentor and lifelong friend. He was basically in charge of the "Freed's fairies" at MGM. (remember them)
His first film was with Victor Fleming (Oz director)
Edens played an important part in the career of gay icon Judy Garland. The two met in 1935 when Edens was called in to replace Garland's father, Frank Gumm, an amateur pianist, at Garland's audition at MGM. Edens was quick to appreciate her talent and became not only her musical mentor but also a lifelong friend.
Edens wrote a song for Garland to sing at Clark Gable's birthday party in 1937. It not only delighted Gable but also favorably impressed the producer of Del Ruth's Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937), who had Garland sing it in the film.After working with Garland on a couple of other projects Edens served as musical director for The Wizard of Oz and also as rehearsal pianist for Garland.

Edens' career is a stunning success story, the more remarkable because his achievements came in an era of widespreadhomophobia.
Gay performers sometimes resorted to "lavender marriages" or invented fictitious wives to conceal their sexual orientation. Even working behind the scenes and in the congenial atmosphere of the Freed unit, Edens, according to Mann, kept a photo of his ex-wife on his desk for years although he was living openly with another man.
His collaborator and long-time friend Kay Thompson described him as "a darling man," and Michael Morrison, another friend and the business partner of gay actor William Haines, commented that "all sorts of people were drawn to him."
http://glbtq.com/arts/edens_r.html

I know alot of folks will say "so what?"

Well, It's just a little more fuel for the fire. Judy was raised by and large, in and around the gay community. Hell, she was on her way to becoming an icon among the powers that be in the hollywood gay-subculture before Oz was ever made.
There's an interesting story about how she made Clark Gable cry at his own birthday. A list of friends present included many gay actors and actresses.

These people who supported her and helped make her famous didn't all just die. They (like Roger Edens) were part of her fan club from day one and supported her throughout her career.

It's really interesting if you'd take the time to read more on the powerful players behind the making of this icon.

Anyway, that's all I have time for right now.
see ya~JB
#105
Old 08-12-2006, 07:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbeam
As a result of the puritan social norms developing in the 40's. The 1939 version of "The Wizard of Oz" got shelved until 1959 IIRC. Sure it was shown a few times but not televised.
"Puritan social norms developing in the '40s"? The picture that declares, "There's no place like home"?


In fact, The Wizard of Oz was given full theatrical reissues by M-G-M in 1949 and 1955. The Wizard of Oz was first televised in 1956 (not 1959). Screen Actors Guild contracts kept movies from the major Hollywood studios off television until television residual issues were settled in 1956.
#106
Old 08-12-2006, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbeam
Someone said previously that the OP referred ONLY to the '39 version. I didn't read it that way. The OP says.
The OP actually says
Quote:
Originally Posted by OP
"The Wizard of Oz" is the single movie most associated with the gay male culture in this country. Movies (viz. My Fellow Americans) make jokes based on that fact. Being a straight guy myself, this has always made me wonder. There is a stereotype that gay males like Judy Garland*, but that doesn't make much sense to me, either. What is the history behind these associations?
Clearly, the OP is talking about one Oz movie, the 1939 version with Judy Garland.
#107
Old 08-12-2006, 02:03 PM
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I still think there's obviously more to the story. But, that's cool...enough said.
#108
Old 08-12-2006, 06:17 PM
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jimbeam writes:

> 1) Judy is gay icon

In the 1950's and 1960's particularly. Now, apparently, the whole idea of tragic divas as gay icons is somewhat passe. There's no evidence that she was a gay icon in 1939, when she was considered the all-American girl. The fact that she worked with gay men doesn't prove anything. There were a lot of homosexuals working in Hollywood. Other movie people knew about their sexual orientation. Most of the American public didn't.

> 2) Cukor was gay

His involvement with the movie was minimal. Again, a lot of people in Hollywood were gay. So what?

> 3) pre-1939 OZ was a success

Yes, but so what? Prove that the Oz books or movies were taken as having anything to do with homosexuality (even as a hidden, cult meaning) before 1950. Again, it doesn't appear that the movie was considered to have a gay subtext until the 1950's.

> 4) gay/queer terms for homosexuals used pre-39

Yes, but so what? Furthermore, the terms were only used in that sense among a few cognescenti. Most people didn't use the words that way until the late 1960's.

> 5) there was gay sub-culture in pre-39

Yes, but so what? The question is whether the gay subculture thought that there was a gay subtext in the move before 1950. We're all in agreement that the movie and Judy Garland became gay icons in the 1950's. The fact that a gay subculture existed before 1939 doesn't say anything about what their icons were. Furthermore, please note that the pre-1960's gay subculture was very much an underground culture that most American didn't know existed.

> I think my last two or three post have established points 4 & 5 as fact. Actually
> I think every point made thus far is fact.
>
> How about an extra point while we're at it? Can you give me this one?
>
> 6)The Wizard if Oz, it's characters and the language could be interpreted as
> stereotypically gay. Especially by the gay community?

As far as I can see, this doesn't appear to be true. Again, look at the plots of the Oz books by Baum and show us that there are a significant number of plot points that could be interpreted as gay subtext. Or quote from a book in which it's shown that before 1950 the movie was taken as having a gay subtext.
#109
Old 08-12-2006, 11:05 PM
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Another Piece to This Puzzle

Perhaps. Frank Baum's mother-in-law, Matilda Joslyn Gage was an early radical feminist, abolitionist, and advocate of Native American rights, often forgotten compared to Susan B. Anthony, because she was Too Radical. From the linked Wikipedia article:

"Gage was considered to be more radical than either Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton (with whom she wrote History of Woman Suffrage). Along with Cady Stanton, she was a vocal critic of the Christian Church, which put her at odds with conservative suffragists such as Frances Willard and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. Rather than arguing that women deserved the vote because their feminine morality would then properly influence legislation (as the WCTU did), she argued that they deserved suffrage as a 'natural right'."

Matilda Gage was close to Baum and his wife Maud, often living with them. She certainly helped to inform Baum's writing of his femme centric tale. I wonder if this was at all known to Gay Rights Activists, and helped to increase the popularity of the movie in that circle. She is, unfortunately, not widely remembered for the great work she did, but, as an outspoken advocate for human rights in a time when it was quite difficult to do that, a fine example. Anyone know if there's a connection?

If that's a mere footnote to the popularity of The Wizard of Oz in the gay community, then it is a wonderful confluence of influence. Matilda Gage fought hard for basic rights, saw her son-in-law's success with a powerful girl-hero tale, and then the modern film version resonates with a whole different generation and rights cause.

Muy beautiful!
#110
Old 08-13-2006, 05:47 PM
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--jaw drops--

Now, that's a brilliantly obscure tangent.

You rock.
#111
Old 08-13-2006, 06:34 PM
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Um, elelle, that link was fascinating, but I find it very unlikely that gay activists in 1939 thought much about the political beliefs of Baum's mother-in-law. Gage's beliefs were (as is clear from the article) very complex, and I don't see any obvious relationship to homosexuality. I suppose you could make a case that Gage influenced her daughter and hence her son-in-law toward having a strong female protagonist, but it's no more surprising that Baum should have a female protagonist for his story than that Lewis Carroll had a female protagonist for the Alice books, and he didn't have a famous feminist mother-in-law.
#112
Old 08-13-2006, 09:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell Wagner
Um, elelle, that link was fascinating, but I find it very unlikely that gay activists in 1939 thought much about the political beliefs of Baum's mother-in-law. Gage's beliefs were (as is clear from the article) very complex, and I don't see any obvious relationship to homosexuality. I suppose you could make a case that Gage influenced her daughter and hence her son-in-law toward having a strong female protagonist, but it's no more surprising that Baum should have a female protagonist for his story than that Lewis Carroll had a female protagonist for the Alice books, and he didn't have a famous feminist mother-in-law.
Actually, the second book has General Jinjur and her all girl army occupying the Emerald City. I rather suspect this is more a reference to the suffragettes, but I'm sure any red-blooded Doper can come up with a sexual reading of this. They get scared out of the palace by field mice - I don't even want to go there.


Those of us who have read the book more than once will also remember that the Dorothy in the book (and the pictures) is a lot younger than the girl Garland played.

For me, going back to the OP, I can see lots of reasons why one could read a gay subtext into Oz - but that it was placed there intentionally is far from proven. I'll need to find a cite, but I believe "Over the Rainbow" was added to the movie at the last minute.

[Tom Lehrer]
When correctly viewed
Anything is lewd
I can tell you things about Peter Pan
And the Wizard of Oz,
There's a dirty old man!
[/Tom]
#113
Old 08-13-2006, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager
I'll need to find a cite, but I believe "Over the Rainbow" was added to the movie at the last minute.
Per Gerold Frank's Garland biography, OtR was the thirteenth song written for the film. Harold Arlen supposedly wrote the music in the space of a few minutes in the car outside Schwab's drug store.
#114
Old 08-14-2006, 02:06 AM
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Well, there's some evidence... I don't know how good it is

NPR has alleged a connection between Judy Garland's death and the Stonewall riots.
http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/..._useweights=no

(Click "sample".)
Quote:
Originally Posted by NPR
COMMENTARY: LOOK AT HOW THE RIOTS AT THE STONEWALL 30 YEARS AGO BROUGHT THE GAY AND LESBIAN STRUGGLE INTO MOST AMERICANS' FIELD OF VISION (574 words)

June 26, 1999, WEEKEND EDITION

Sample | Purchase this transcript
SCOTT SIMON, host: Thirty years ago this week, Judy Garland died and thousands of people who had particularly cherished the trembling, determined tenderness in her songs, filled the gay bars of New York's East Greenwich Village to commiserate and mourn. For the police, this gathering of so many gays made for what today is referred to as a target-rich environment. At about 2 AM, police began to move through a bar called the Stonewall Inn, handcuffing people on no particular charge....

....

JUDY GARLAND INSPIRED GAYS OF STONEWALL INN RIOT (948 words)

June 22, 1994, All Things Considered

Sample | Purchase this transcript
NOAH ADAMS, Host: Judy Garland died on this day 25 years ago. She died in London, an overdose of barbiturates. She had a brilliant and a sad career as a singer, an actor, starting at an early age. She played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz in 1939. Judy Garland was 47 when she died. Her body was brought to New York City for the funeral. That was on June 27th. Early in the morning on the next day, the Stonewall riots began and the gay rights movement was started. The Stonewall Inn was a gay bar in...
I haven't paid $3.95 for a pop for the transcripts, though I can say from the audio that the June 1999 piece doesn't mention Garland again. http://npr.org/templates/story/s...toryId=1052072

I seem to recall another NPR report which contrasted younger and older gay male views of Judy Garland, but I can't find an online record.
#115
Old 08-14-2006, 05:30 AM
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Voyager writes:

> Actually, the second book has General Jinjur and her all girl army occupying the
> Emerald City. I rather suspect this is more a reference to the suffragettes, but
> I'm sure any red-blooded Doper can come up with a sexual reading of this.
> They get scared out of the palace by field mice - I don't even want to go there.

This might prove that Baum was influenced by the late 19th century feminists. Even if you didn't know that his mother-in-law was one of them, it's easy to take this as a reference to the suffragettes. He takes all this rather lightly though, so it's not as if he's trying to make much of a feminist statement here. Again, unless you're willing to really stretch things, it's hard to see how this could be taken as any statement about homosexuality. Indeed, it's not even that easy to get any sort of a sexual reading out of this scene.

Measure for Measure writes:

> NPR has alleged a connection between Judy Garland's death and the Stonewall
> riots.

Actually, it's more like NPR has done a retrospective on the Stonewall riots in which they mention Garland's death without quite saying that it has anything to do with the Stonewall riots.

Incidentally, the sense in which it's possible to interpret _The Wizard of Oz_ and Judy Garland as gay icons is rather different than the way that most gay film icons of that period were understood. Generally the movies which were so interpreted were ones in which strong women fought for their place against an uncaring male establishment, and the women who were gay icons were the actresses who took such roles. In other words, they were what was called "women's pictures" at the time. Such movies were considered a bit daring at the time, although now they would be considered uninteresting or even somewhat regressive as feminist statements.

These films were taken as statements of gay defiance of the hetrosexual world in the underground world of gay culture, and it's possible that some of the gay writers and directors in Hollywood even meant them that way. To most of the American public though, they were simply about strong women making their way in the world. _The Wizard of Oz_ is different though. It doesn't have a strong women fighting the male establishment. It's about a young girl's adventures, and it has a rather old-fashioned timid ending. I think that only in retrospect was it taken as having a gay subtext, and this re-evaluation didn't happen till Garland began to be thought of as a tragic diva in the 1950's.
#116
Old 08-14-2006, 06:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voyager
Those of us who have read the book more than once will also remember that the Dorothy in the book (and the pictures) is a lot younger than the girl Garland played.
I've got a book on the making of The Wizard of Oz. They specifically mention binding Judy's breasts to make her appear less pubescent. I've seen the drawings from the original book- I've got a calendar with em.

In those drawings, Dorothy is very much a completely pre-pubescent girl.
#117
Old 08-14-2006, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Measure for Measure
NPR has alleged a connection between Judy Garland's death and the Stonewall riots.
The fallacy there is assuming that because event A preceded event B, event A must have caused event B. Further, it offers no primary evidence (evidence from participants, or evidence from 1969) that there was a connection. It just assumes that there was.

See my previous post on the subject.
#118
Old 07-24-2017, 10:55 AM
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New here, but I had to chime in. As a 41 year old gay man myself, I think my answer to this could be a comprehensive one. I know this is an old thread and I am necroing it, but I needed to answer this better than any of the responses thusfar.

The movie is about three "men" who are dressed up in fun costumes, and they have a secret hidden flaw that they each wanted to "fix" to later find out it doesn't need fixing and coming to terms with it makes them happy and whole. Their best friends are each other and a beautiful young woman who they are not sexually attracted to. They are all from humble beginnings out in the countryside where they don't quite fit in, and they are on a trip to a huge glimmering big city where they will hopefully find hope and acceptance.

The movie features scenes in which opium poppies (narcotics) put the cast to sleep, and a little hit of "snow" (cocaine) gets them going again to continue their fun dance party to the shining bright big city (where everyone is colorful and happy) in which they all get their hair and nails done and massages at what could be described as bath houses.

The Wizard himself is also a quiet, sensitive, kind and brilliant man who hides behind a rough outer shell behind that curtain.

....and at the end of the day, it's just a colorful rainbow movie with a bunch of women fighting over a rare and valuable pair of shoes.
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