Feb 21, 2013

Waltons: The Gay Connection

It's been off the air for 30 years (20, if you count
 the tv movies), but people still point to The Waltons (1972-81) as "good tv" about "family values," by which they mean it had no bad words, parental disrespect, or gay people.  As late as 1990, President Bush told People magazine that "we need more families like The Waltons."

So we should all live in rural North Carolina during the Depression, have no money but an enormous house and chicken for dinner every night, have enormous numbers of children, and all go to bed at the same time, shouting "Good night" to each other across the darkened rooms?

I hate to be the bearer of "bad news," but even The Waltons had a gay connection.  

1. The central character, aspiring writer John-Boy Walton, was played by Richard Thomas, who starred in Last Summer (1969), about a three-way romance in the gay mecca of Fire Island, and Fifth of July (1982), about a gay paraplegic Vietnam veteran.

2. Will Geer, Grandpa Walton, was gay.  His lover, Harry Hay, founded the Mattachine Society, the first gay rights organization in the U.S., in 1950. 

3. Ralph Waite, John Walton, is heterosexual, but during the 1980s he ran for Congress, primarily due to the incumbent's lack of support for AIDS research and gay issues. 

4. Eric Scott, left (Ben Walton) has starred in two gay-themed movies, Defying Gravity (1997) and Never Again (2001).

5. I've only seen one episode, but I understand that there was a parade of hunky guys, sometimes shirtless.

6. And frequent buddy-bonding.

7. The John-Boy doll didn't look much like him (it was a blond GI Joe in overalls) but it had a massive chest.

8. John-Boy had an almost total lack of heterosexual interest (before his wedding in a 1995 movie).