In movies and literature, the teenage boy who liked girls was labeled gay, an effeminate contrast to the real, red-blooded, masculine boy who “spurned all girls with vigilant care.” He was jeered, blackmailed, and ostracized. He was asked “What kind of flower are you?” and “Can I borrow your lipstick, dearie?” His peers called him “honey-boy,” “panty-waist,” “mollycoddle,” and “Percy,” and the adults, “sensitive,” “gentle,” “artistic,” and “sweet.”
His wife suggests that he take Ted aside and give him a little talk about “Things,” but he rejects the proposal: “no sense suggesting a lot of Things to a boy’s mind.” He assumes that no seventeen-year old boy could possibly experience heterosexual desire unless he is manipulated from outside.
The next summer, Babbit discovers Ted kissing a girl, but he blames her for "enticing him," refusing to believe that any eighteen-year old could want to kiss girls of his own accord.
“He’s a queer boy,” his mother muses. “Sometimes I can’t make head or tail of him.”
Richard has been played in movies by Eric Linden (1935), Simon Lack (1938), and Lee Kinsolving (1959), and in the theater by many actors, including Luke Halpin (of Flipper), left and T.R. Knight (of Grey's Anatomy), top photo.
Mickey Rooney, left) had an effeminate girl-craziness and was psychoanalyzed as "queer," suffering from a “unconscious fixation on youth.”
Tom Brown's School Days) was subject to pummeling by bullies and tense heart-to-hearts with his parents. His buddy Dizzy usually tolerated his eccentricity, but sometimes even he couldn’t take it anymore, and yelled “What the heck’s the matter with you, anyway?”