Aug 14, 2016
Laurel and Hardy: 1930s Gay Couple
"They don't make movies like that nowadays," Grandma Davis exclaims.
"Nowadays all you see is sex, sex, sex," her friend complains. "Thankfully the boys weren't interested in women."
My ears perk up. Not interested in women? Maybe they were interested in each other?
I sit down, but the movie is nearly over. "Who were they?" I ask.
"Why, what do they teach in those hippie schools of yours?" Grandma Davis asked. "It was Laurel and Hardy, the greatest comedy team in history!"
Gilligan's Island), who starred together in over 70 shorts and 23 feature films from the 1920s to the 1950s. But many of their films involved wives, and both were married to women in real life.
Grandma's friend was wrong.
Years later, in Bloomington, around 1983 or 1984, I turn on the tv one dull Saturday afternoon, hoping for an old beefcake movie. Instead, I see two women wearing men's suits. One is talking on the telephone to Oliver Hardy. "I'd love for you to meet my husband," she says, glancing at her partner, who smiles.
Did I just see a lesbian couple in a 1930s movie?
Apparently not. The movie was Sons of the Desert (1933), with Laurel and Hardy as a couple of henpecked husbands who sneak away to go to a lodge convention in Chicago. Their wives have become wise to the deception, and are planning a comeuppance. Not lesbians.
The two often have wives, but only as obstacles to be overcome in their quest to be together.
They often flirt -- literally flirt -- with police officers, boxers, and sundry macho figures.
They often don drag, or act the 1930s "pansy." And they are devoted to each other, with an obviously physical relationship.
Can you get more overt than that?