Jan 19, 2014
Equus: Nudity, Gay Symbolism, and a Religion of Maleness
We shouldn't have been surprised. Hunky guys have been displaying their penises on stage since the play (by gay playwright Peter Shaffer) first opened in 1973.
But in a scene that's so breathtaking in its intensity that you forget to gawk at the beefcake.
He develops an entire religion around the horse-god Equus, devotion to muscle, and power, and maleness.
Then a girl seduces him, in the stables while horses are watching. Alan feels intense guilt over his sin -- choosing the feminine over the masculine, sex over passion. He believes that the horses are judging him, and in a fit of despair he blinds them.
The gay but closeted psychiatrist Martin Dysart is assigned to cure him, draw him away from his homoerotic religion to heterosexual "normalcy":
"I'll give him the good Normal world...give him Normal places for his ecstasy...with any luck his private parts will come to feel as plastic to him as the products of the factory to which he will certainly be sent...hopefully he'll feel nothing on his fork but Approved Flesh...I doubt, however, with much passion."
It was filmed in 1977, with Peter Firth as Alan and Richard Burton as Martin Dysart. But they used real horses, which minimized the gay symbolism.