Saturday, April 7, 2012

"G" is for Garland and Gay. Or is it? (4.7.2012)

"I have this theory that because of the holocaust that was the AIDS epidemic and its annihilation of the previous generation of gay men, the faith of our fathers risks extinction. Today, Judyism, like Yiddish, is little more than a vague cultural memory."   

Fascinating story about, I suppose you could say, the changes in popular culture related to how groups of people (gay people) define themselves. It's interesting to think about the possibility that as gayness becomes more and more a part of society, it's becomes less of a club with a secret handshake, and is no longer about the shared love of a troubled chanteuse with whom gays identify. Do heterosexuals have performer icons associated with their preference for sleeping with the opposite sex? Except for maybe Barry White, I don't think they do.

Maybe the connection to Judy is a connection formed by a generation of gay men and women who remember her as a contemporary, and for whom she functioned "...[as] a kind of patron saint, and who [was], for all intents and purposes, gay guys themselves. “Judy at Carnegie Hall” was the soundtrack of my childhood. As any fan can tell you, it’s Garland at her swaggering best: glamorous, triumphant and almost superhumanly resilient. It goes without saying that such resilience held enormous appeal for gay men."

I wonder.

Since I'm not qualified to comment on this, except from a purely hetero perspective. I'll have to ask a few of my gay friends what they think: Is Judy Garland still a gay idol? Or, is the story right when it suggests,

"It’s just not my idea of being gay. Today gay can be anything.”       

Link to the story:
The Road Gets Rougher for Judyism’s Faithful

Author's Note: In the month of April, I am participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. The idea is to blog about something every day, starting with the first letter in the alphabet ("A") and continuing through all 26 letters (to "Z"). (We get Sundays off for good behavior.) In order to make this fun and challenging, I've decided to theme my A to Z blogging. Here's the plan: since I love reading The New York Times, and since I always find no shortage of frightfully interesting stories, I am going to center my blog on the stories I find in The Times. One thing I promise: an A to Z ride through The Times as diverse as the Gray Lady herself. Hang on for some fun. Or as Kevin said in Home Alone (one of my favorite lines), "I think I'll give it a whirl..."


  1. I'm naive. I never knew she was a gay idol. Interesting.

  2. Well, I'm gay, but not a gay man. :) Judy Garland is awesome, but she wasn't really ever a lesbian idol (to my knowledge, ha). My sense these days is that figures like, say, Madonna, have kind of taken Judy Garland's place in the gay male catechism. But I know that there is definitely a sense of history that my gay male friends are aware of - "camp" is really something that gay communities formed around in the past, and Judy-love was a part of that. These days I think gay identity is a lot more mainstream and fractured, so there isn't that same sense of identification with the group that has these idols. In some ways that's a good thing, of course, but in some ways it's kind of sad.

    1. Hey thanks for adding The Gay Perspective :-) lol. A good friend of mine is a gay male so I'll have to ask him about it too, but what you say makes sense. Knowing this "used to be" very true but isn't any more makes me feel

    2. HERE'S THE REPLY FROM MY FRIEND--INTERESTING!I need your expert opinion on the subject of this blog. What do YOU think? Garland, yes? or Garland, no?

      S B Hadley Wilson Replies: LOL! Okay, this is a tough one. I've personally never been a huge Garland fan but that may be because of my age and/or conservatism. Having said the latter, I'm a huge fan of both Madonna and Lady Gaga who are are gay icons. I'm inclined to think that Garland provided the campiness (as the woman who commented on your blog said) that both Madonna and Lady Gaga provide that resonates with oppressed communities. It's kind of like a beacon of hope syndrome where these flamboyant people are accepted in society and are celebrities. Who doesn't want that level of admiration?

  3. I can say with complete certainty that, yes, Judy is still an idol for gay men (although it might be that this only applies to Gen X and older for the most part), as is Ethel Merman, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, I only found out about around 10yrs ago...Olivia Newton John. THAT one surprised me at first...but then a lot of things began to make sense about it, so now I get it.