Dec 16, 2014

What's the Gay Connection in "The Sound of Music"?

When I was living in West Hollywood, people kept saying things like:
"I can't go out tonight -- The Sound of Music is on!"
"Which Sound of Music character are you?"
"The Sound of Music is playing at the community theater.  We have to go!"

I have never seen it all the way through.  It gives me bad vibes.

It's my fourth grade teacher's fault.  She told us about Anne Frank and The Sound of Music at the same time, and I got them mixed up, thinking that the musical ended with everyone dying in a concentration camp.

When I used to hear the songs, they gave me a frisson of dread, since I thought they were being sung by the prisoners at Auschwitz.

But even without the horror, they made no sense.  Look at "Do, Re, Mi":

Far, a long, long way to run.  It's  pronounced far, not fahhhh.

Ti, a drink with jam and bread.  Who drinks tea with jam and bread?  For that matter, what the heck is jam?

Or "My Favorite Things"
Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels.  Ponies don't come in cream colors, and strudel is a soft pastry, not crisp.

When the dog bites -- when the bee stings.  If a dog bites you, thinking of "favorite things" wouldn't help -- you need a rabies shot. And why would you feel sad when bitten or stung?  It's not sad, it's painful.

"Oh, no," everyone kept telling me.  "It's the greatest musical of all time!  And the gayest!"

So I've been looking for the gay connection.

Not in the plot: it's just a "servant inspires joie de vivre in disfunctional family" story, done to death on tv: Hazel, Charles in Charge, Mr. Belvedere, Give me a Break, The Nanny.  Here the nanny is future nun Maria (Julie Andrews), and the family belongs to the stern Captain Von Trapp of the Austrian army (Christopher Plummer).  After they learn joie de vivre, the family hits it big as professional singers, and finally they escape from the Nazis by climbing over the hillside into Switzerland.

There is no beefcake or buddy-bonding.

There are no gay or gay-vague characters, except maybe Max Detweiler, who becomes the children's agent.

 In 1965 he was played by Richard Haydn, who was gay in real life.  This scene does not appear in the movie.

Maybe there's a gay connection in the cast?

Julie Andrews, of course, went on to play a woman disguised as a drag queen in Victor/Victoria (1982).

Christopher Plummer  won an Academy Award at the age of 82, for playing a gay man who comes out after retirement in Beginners (2010).  In the top photo, he seems to be having a little loincloth malfunction in The Royal Hunt of the Sun (1969).

Nicholas Hammond (left), one of the two boys in Von Trapp's mostly female family, played Spider-Man on tv (1977-78), where he displayed a respectable bulge.  He was married for only four years, and is rumored to be gay.

Not a lot of gay connection there.

What about the real life Von Trapp Family, lead by patriarch Georg Ritter Von Trapp (1888-1947)?  Ok, they were professional singers long before they met Maria, and they were Italian citizens who didn't need to escape Germany -- they just bought train tickets.  After the War, they opened a lodge in Stowe, Vermont.  

Most of the kids eventually married, although Agathe may have been gay: she ran a kindergarten with her "friend of 50 years," Mary Louise Kane.

Still not a lot of gay connection.

The Sound of Music Live! (2013) starred Carrie Underwood as Maria and Stephen Moyer (left) as Captain Von Trapp, Christian Borle (second photo), who plays a lot of gay characters, made his Max Detweiler as gay-vague as possible.

Not much there, either.

So the gay connection of The Sound of Music consists mostly of bulges?

See also: Charles in Charge; Mr. Belvedere; My Fair Lady.


  1. gay connection?!? When living in West Hollywood did no one tell you Christopher Plummer was gay?? He may not have come out until the 00’s, and though not “official”, it was fairly common knowledge in many Hollywood circles - especially West Hollywood. So there’s your connection, well that - and there were many a gay man in musical numbers & musicals. The musical theater has always been a safe zone for gay men. So a Rogers & Hammerstein big blockbuster musical produced in Hollywood, starring a gay man (unofficially), is definitely got ties to why people had to stay home to watch it instead of going out.

    1. I actually never heard anyone mention Christopher Plummer. I still don't know what he's been in, although I recognize the name.


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