Aug 29, 2014

Robert Redford on Gay Rights

When I was in high school, the heterosexual girls and gay boys swooned over a trio of adult actors who epitomized cool: Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford.

Redford, who was already in his 40s, didn't have a particularly buffed physique, but he made up for it with a mischievous smile, a gleam in his eye, and the hint of superheroic sexual prowess.  

He came to Hollywood in 1960, and did the rounds of tv guest spots before getting his big break as a morally-dubious movie star in Inside Daisy Clover (1965).

Barefoot in the Park (1967) was the standard "uptight guy meets free spirit girl" romance that we've seen a billion times before, but for some reason it resonated with 1960s audiences, proving that Redford could play a hetero-romantic lead.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1968) was the standard "cowboys in love" romance that we've seen a billion times before, but it also resonated with 1960s audiences, proving that Redford could play gay-subtext buddy-bonding.

He spent the next decade doing both.

Hetero-romance: The Way We Were (1973), The Great Gatsby (1974), Three Days of the Condor (1975).

Gay subtext buddy-bonding: with Michael Pollard in Little Fauss and Big Halsey (1970), George Segal in The Hot Rock (1972),  Dustin Hoffman in All the President's Men (1976).

No explicit gay characters, and he claims he wasn't even aware of the gay subtexts at the time.

During the 1980s, Redford's roles became fewer, as he moved into production, fostering independent films.  He started the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, and the Sundance TV Channel.

Park City, Utah, north of Provo, the heart of Mormon homophobia?  Is

He hasn't made a lot of pro-gay statements, but in 2013 he spoke in favor of marriage equality at an event sponsored by Equality Utah.  "Utah is changing," he said.  

Maybe Redford is changing, too.

See also: Michael J. Pollard, Lost Boy