"It doesn't matter what their sexual preference is!" OK, now that we've got that off our chests, let's move on. There was a time, many years ago, when Hollywood was forced to hide all of its gay characters from the censors. Though there are traces of this all the way back to the beginnings of film (and still a legacy of it today) it truly began in 1930 with the Motion Picture Production Code, otherwise known as the Hays Code (named after the President of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), Will H. Hays).
The Hays Code was a set of religious guidelines that restricted sinful activity being shown on screen, lest it corrupt the general public. One such example of banned "sinful" behavior was homosexuality. This led to the creation of the "sissy," a character-type that could get around the censors while portraying a certain set of characteristics. Unfortunately, most of these characters were villains or victims, hardly a glowing association for the gay population. There are many examples of gay characters hidden in the films released under the Hays Code years from 1930 to 1968. We have included a couple herein, and also showcased more recent ones as well. After 1968, gay characters had more freedom, but that doesn't mean they always came out on-screen either. After all, not all heterosexual characters announce their preference, so why should the gay characters?
Well, this list isn't about characters whose sexuality is overly ambiguous. This is about those gay characters who didn't come out verbally because they were so obviously gay they never needed to. Still, because the average film lens is so focused on heterosexuality, most film fans just see gay characters in the "default setting." Basically, if a character doesn't say they're gay, they’re not. We're here to tell you that's not true. If you've been paying attention at all, some of these are probably already known to you, but you'd be surprised at how many people watch films on auto-pilot. Here are 15 film characters you never knew were gay. Well, you kind of did, but weren't for sure.
15 Ken – Toy Story 3
14 Doris and Maybe Everyone Else – A League of Their Own
13 LeFou – Beauty and the Beast
12 Maverick and Iceman– Top Gun
11 C-3PO – Star Wars
10 Sullivan – The Departed
9 Batman and Robin – Batman & Robin
8 Hook and Smee – Hook
7 Brick Pollitt - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
6 Idgie and Ruth – Fried Green Tomatoes
5 Plato – Rebel Without a Cause
Released in 1955, Rebel Without a Cause is a movie that is always highlighted in discussions of queer film. There's a good argument to be made that James Dean's character is bisexual, but we'll focus on Sal Mineo's character, Plato, because he is often heralded as the first gay teenager in film. Plato's gayness is shadowed a bit by his childishness and properness, but this is a gay character. There's no denying it. The Motion Picture Production Code office even sent the filmmakers a memo stating that they noticed the “inference of a questionable or homosexual relationship between Plato and Jim,” but it wasn't enough to shut it down. Plato got through the gay police and drove all the way big screen sitting impossibly upright on his Vespa. Just look at the way he looks at Dean. This is a boy who's in love.
4 Jesse - A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge
3 Tango and Cash – Tango & Cash
2 Mrs. Danvers – Rebecca
1 Ben and Messala – Ben-Hur
Despite the rebuttals from the star of Ben-Hur, Charlton Heston, the relationship between Ben (Heston) and Messala (Stephen Boyd) was a gay one. The story goes that Gore Vidal was brought in to fix the Ben-Hur script. The way he did this was to add in a gay subtext, one he never told Heston about. The result is a sexual longing from one half of the friends (Boyd) and a refusal from the other (Heston). It's brilliant and it worked. Ben-Hur is considered one of the great classics in film. It just happens to be one of the gayest as well. Here's what Vidal said: “Over the years, I have told the story of how, faced with a hopeless script for Ben-Hur, I persuaded the producer, Sam Zimbalist, that the only way one could justify several hours of hatred between two lads – and all those horses – was to establish, without saying so in words, an affair between them as boys; then, when reunited at picture’s start, the Roman, played by Stephen Boyd, wants to pick up where they left off and the Jew, Heston, spurns him.”
Sources: Wikipedia; IMDB; NPR
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