Jul 10, 2012

Gay Teens in the Summer of Love

In Island of the Lost (1967), South Pacific Islander Tupana (Jose De Vega ) befriends a shipwrecked anthropologist and his clan. He grins at hula-dancing castaway Judy, and kisses her, and holds her hand.  When the rescue boat arrives, he says goodbye, but at the last minute he decides to forsake his homeland and swims out to join her.  At least, that is how the scene can be read.

But Tupana also befriends another castaway, Stu (Luke Halpin of Flipper); they go fishing, and learn to dance, and touch each other's shoulders, smiling.  It is Stu who actually pulls Tupana aboard the rescue boat.  We are not absolutely certain, amid the fade-out hugs, which one Tupana has decided to followed.

In 1966 and 1967, as the first of the Baby Boomers was driving off to college, or flying off to Viet Nam,  teenage boys gazing at girls were as common as tie-dye t-shirts and patchouli incense.  But, within their quest for The Girl who would give their life meaning, gay kids and teenagers often noticed them grinning at boys.

In The Fighting Prince of Donegal (1966), Renaissance Irish prince Peter McEnery rescues a princess, but he also spends an inordinate amount of time being rescued by an older man (Tom Adams).

In C'Mon, Let's Live a Little (1967), college freshman Jesse (Bobby Vee) woos the Dean’s daughter, but he also gleams at his grinning, redheaded boy friend Eddie (Eddie Hodges).  And while Jesse is off wooing a girl, Eddie sits alone in the dorm room, despondent, singing about lost love.

In It's a Bikini World (1967), teenage casanova Mike Samson (Tommy Kirk) trolls the beach in search of babes, but he also has a remarkably expressive bond with his best friend, Woody (Bobby Pickett).

In the comics, Robin and Jimmy Olsen date girls, but they are heartbroken when they believe that their superhero pals have found someone else.   Korak Son of Tarzan rescues a young African diplomat and introduces him to a girl, but not before the duo spends many panels gazing at each other with unparalleled delight

During the Summer of Love, nearly every teenage boy, whether star, buddy, or villain, was portrayed as aggressively and unequivocally girl-crazy.  Yet they often, perhaps usually, desired each other or fell in love with each other.

Their bonds were exclusive and permanent, yet always submerged beneath a girl-crazy fa├žade.  They would gaze at each other while discussing how much they liked girls, or while competing over the same girl, or while consoling each other when their attempts at getting girls faltered.

Their bonds were intense and passionate, yet always tentative, fragile, easily disrupted.  They would express their desire through hints and innuendos, through subtexts and double-entendres, through ambiguities in spectacle or plot, through moments stolen from the “main” story, lest anyone notice. Lest anyone realize that two boys or two men could walk into fade-out sunsets together.

See also: Fighting Prince of Donegal

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