Apr 6, 2014
The 8 Dead Gay Guys of Tennessee Williams
1. Tom in The Glass Menagerie (1944), the brother of fragile Southern belle Laura. He isn't actually dead, but he's sensitive, artistic, and poetic (1950s code for "gay").
2. Allan (off-camera) in A Streetcar Named Desire (1945). Why is faded Southern belle Blanche so crazy? Long ago she married Allan without realizing that he was gay. When she found out, she confronted him, and he ran outside and killed himself. In the movie version, she just calls him a "poet," and doesn't explain why he got so upset.
4. Kilroy in Camino Real (1953). A gay American G.I. arrives in the backwater town of Camino Real, gets sick, and meets various historical and literary characters, most of whom try to seduce him, before he dies (but not to worry, his spirit goes off with Don Quixote as his new squire).
6.Sebastian (off camera) in Suddenly, Last Summer (1959): the emotionally-fragile Catherine acted as a procurer for his affairs. But then the young men he had sex with turned on him, and ate him. (In the 1959 movie, no face is shown.)
8. Mark in In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel (1969). A gay, depressed artist, he rolls around naked on his canvas and has a nervous breakdown, while his emotionally-fragile wife hangs out at a Tokyo hotel, trying to pick him men. Finally he dies.
Why fill his stages with dead and dying gay guys? Though gay himself, Williams was a product of his era, and thought of same-sex desire as dark, disturbing, and dangerous. Something to be repressed or hidden away. Something that would lead inevitably to death.