Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Great Gatsby

Why do I never hear anyone mention the gay things going on in The Great Gatsby? The first place the Complete and Total Loser saw it referenced was in the 1970 Elliot Gould/Candice Bergen movie, "Getting Straight." It that movie Gould plays a graduate student who, during his master's oral exam, cites Gatsby as Fitzgerald's best novel. He's grilled on this by one professor who chastises Gould for not realizing that Nick Carraway is gay. 
"Carraway was queer for Gatsby?" Gould says. "Did you truly overlook the homosexuality at the core of The Great Gatsby?" the professor says. He previously pointed out how Carraway's sole love interest is Jordan Baker, who's described as lean, athletic, small-breasted and "boyish," and plays golf, "a man's game." Gould melts down at this, shouting, memorably, "It's gonna be a hell of surprise to Sheilah Graham!" when the professor says Fitzgerald wrote the novel in part to cover his own panic over being homosexual.
Indeed, there's an odd sequence at the end of the second chapter that hints at what then may have been called the love that dare not speak its name. Carraway is drunk for the second time in his life and accompanies a photographer, Mr. McKee, who is described as "effeminate," to his apartment. The innuendo and hints begin in the elevator. McKee speaks first:

"Come to lunch some day," he suggested, as we groaned down in the elevator.
"Keep your hands of the lever," snapped the elevator boy.
"I beg your pardon," said Mr. McKee with dignity, "I didn't know I was touching it."
"All right," I agreed. "I'll be glad to."
... I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands."
"Beauty and the Beast ... Loneliness ... Old Grocery Horse ... Brook'n Bridge ...."
Then I was lying half asleep in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station, staring at the morning "Tribune" and waiting for the four o'clock train.
Something beyond getting drunk at a party is happening here. 

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