Last week I watched for the fifth time the film The Wizard of Oz, one of my favourite movies of all times. Have you seen it?
After a strong tornado, Little Dorothy and her dog Toto arrive to The World of Oz. In this fantastic country they will meet strange people like coward lion or the small munchkin, and they will fight against a bad bitch as they follow the yellow brick road to get to the wizard who can send them back home.
It’s been 75 years since this movie first appeared in the cinema screens. It was 1939 and Judy Garland became an instant icon after this film.
The very first time I watched the movie I was about ten, and I have to admit that I didn’t understand much. I mean, it was a funny picture, but look old and the plot quite childish.
But when I re-watched it at my twenties, I completely fell in love. It’s a charming movie from start to finish, as well as the book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, that I also read. The plot and the characters are really amusing and heart touching. And what I also realized is that the movie is very VERY gay.
First of all, there’s an openly effeminate lion who defines himself as “sissy” in a song and it’s accepted by all his companions, and the whole movie is a work of art of the camp style, taking into account the amount of colour, exaggeration and fantasy throughout the story.
Therefore, the movie and Dorothy became a symbol not just for me, but for the gay scene long time before I watched it.
For example, there is a neologism in the gay slang, “friend of Dorothy”, used for discussing sexual orientation without others knowing its meaning. During the 50s and 60s it was like a secret code for gays to identify one of their kind. And nowadays it’s still used in a positive way.
In addition, in the late eighties, the LGBT community demanded some activities especially for them in the cruise lines. Because cruises didn’t want to be very explicit about these events, they started to publicize these acts as ‘friends of Dorothy’s reunions’. Can you believe it?
Another connection is the rainbow flag, symbol of the LGBT. Some say that it was partly inspired by Garland’s song “Over the rainbow”, as well as the Stonewall Riots and Harvey Milk. Truth or lie, this song has been related for years with people that had a double life and, finally, came out of the closet.
Amazing what a good script and a cheesy performance can do for the gay movement. Right?
The Wizard of Oz is full of beautiful quotes all along the story. But as the gay emigrant and traveller that I have been for years, there’s one in particular that I always keep in mind.
“Oh, but anyway, Toto, we’re home. Home! And this is my room, and you’re all here. And I’m not gonna leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all, and – oh, Auntie Em – THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME!”
If you haven’t watched the movie or read the book, I encourage you to do so.