There has been a long-held stereotype that gay men love musicals. For the most part that is a fair assumption. That’s not to say that all gay men love a book filled with song, but for those who do, it may have something to do with Hollywood’s closeted past.
In a new video called “Musical Theatre is SO gay! – Representation (Part 1)” on YouTube (videos below), there are some connections that can be made between the LGBT community and the entertainment business which to this day has a stigma about being out in Tinsel Town.
Mr. Musical Theatre Mash, or as he likes to be called “Mr. Mash,” has done some digging into the history of the musical and found that lyricists often masked their love of the same sex buy writing songs filled with innuendo, only to have woman sing them.
In one blaring example Mr. Mash uses 1953’s “Kiss Me Kate” in which Ann Miller’s character sings about her cravings for a man – any man:
“I’m a maid mad to marry, and will take double-quick; any Tom, Dick or Harry…any Tom, Harry or Dick! A dicka-dick, a dicka-dick, a dicka-dick…”
The term “dick,” as innuendo for the male reproductive organ, has been used as slang since the times of Shakespeare.
Perhaps the above song is only a referencing a popular phrase which has ironically come to mean “unspecified person,” but take into consideration the man who wrote it, Cole Porter.
Porter is perhaps one of the best known homosexual celebrities of the early 1900’s.
His life was recently made into a feature film called “De-Lovely” starring Kevin Kline.
Mr. Mash’s claims are that gay men identified with this innuendo and adopted them as inside jokes, or perhaps a sign of community spirit.
“Even by the time Porter’s ‘Kiss Me Kate’ premiered in 1948 these coded gay expressions were still as out of the closet as you could get.” Mash says in the video. “It is widely theorized that Porter was often directly catering to the gay musical theater crowd in some of his lewd lyrics.”
Mash does warn that these lyrics are open to interpretation, and often times we “read ourselves into the art we experience,” but somehow many of Porter’s songs seem to be secretly speaking to gay men.
Whether you subscribe to this theory of how the stereotype got started or not, Mr. Mash’s video does make some compelling arguments about the subject.
These are only the first and second parts of his three-part video essay on homosexuality and musical theater.
Part two of “Musical Theatre is SO gay!” (see below) is an examination of gay men’s infatuation with musical theater’s most icinic characters.
To follow Musical Theatre Mash click HERE.