Judy Garland goes with gay men like… Oh I don’t know – ruby slippers go with rainbows.
Judy as Beloved Camp Icon is almost as integral to her Legend, personae and stardom as Tragic Judy is – and, of course, they are intertwined.
Queer Judy is a central theme in For The Love Of Judy, but I’ve been putting off writing about it. Oh I’ve addressed aspects in some blog articles, and I post a lot about it on facebook and twitter. But as the subject of a whole blog post, I’ve been reluctant. And this is because there is so much that I could write about it. I could do a whole book (and, heck, maybe one day I will. I’ll add it to the list). But, you know, I am writing a show and making a film about it, so this will be addressed!
For now, I thought I’d jot down some of the key elements I am ruminating on the topic – so’s you know what I’m thinking, but also, because I would love people to get in touch and give me their take on it, especially queer Judy fans. Then you might become part of the film! How fabulous!
Oh and actually, as it’s all part of the context of queer, I’m interested in what straight Judy fans think about this too. Don’t be shy, one and all! (mewsetteentertainment at gmail dot com, or fb, tweet me)
So. Judy and Gay Men.
I began the article with this, but I’m going to question the hell of it. I opened with ‘Judy and Gay Men’ because that is the almost universal correlation. And I opened with it because I want to put it out there and then dismantle it. It may be because of the kind of things I read and am interested in that this always comes up, but actually Googling almost anything about Judy results in loads of hits about Judy’s appeal to gay men. Rarely – if ever, actually – do you get Judy and LGBT or Judy and gay people (but then, does anybody ever use the term ‘gay people’?!). Not once have I found, ‘Judy and lesbians/gay women’, in terms of appeal and fandom. I don’t doubt something is out there – it must be, surely? – but if it is, then it must be pages down the Google list. So why is this?
Is it because:
a) The majority of Judy’s fan base has been and still is predominantly gay men?
b) Or, to put it another way, is the majority of Judy’s queer fan base, gay men?
Or, is it because:
c) Gay men have been the most vocal about it, writing about it, displaying their love, and so Judy and Gay Men as a fandom/stereotype/trope/thing has become the predominant discourse, thus overshadowing any other discussions?
I can’t help but wonder when I see piece after piece about Judy and gay men – does anyone who writes this stuff even consider that lesbians love Judy too? I’m not even going to say ‘some’ lesbians because this isn’t about quantities, it’s about consideration and marginalisation. If the queer Judy fan base is predominantly gay men, then that still doesn’t explain why gay women’s fandom is ignored.
I will argue that one of the biggest aspects of this issue is that while women can be camp icons, gay women themselves are very rarely seen as camp or enjoying camp in the same way as gay men. Camp lesbians don’t appear to exist in the consciousness, but we’re here and queer too goddamit! I’ll dissect the hell out it, don’t worry.
But we can’t just stop there. Because I’m writing in a binary here. The reason for that is it’s there in the conundrum. By constantly addressing ‘gay men and Judy Garland’, those writing about it are presenting half the binary. It excludes the other half – lesbians.
So, the trope also excludes everyone else who falls outside of the binary: the rest of the vast gender and queer spectrum Oz Rainbow. What about queer folks who aren’t cis, who are trans*, or who don’t ID as male or female, or have a neutral or other approach to gender?
Oh, let’s toss in that most controversial of queer species. Can we assume that the discourse always talks about homo gay men? Oysh, throw us bisexuals into the mix and everybody’s heads will be spinning. Or maybe more appropriately bobbing on their springy necks like the Hammer Heads in the Wizard of Oz books.
So, the questions I will be exploring in For The Love Of Judy are:
i) Are gay (homo) men the predominant faction of Judy’s (queer) fan base? Or do they just dominate the discourse?
ii) What about the lesbian/gay/bi women Judy Fans? Why are we ignored?
iii) What do lez Judy fans think about all of this?
iv) What do queer fans who aren’t included in the stupid binary think about all of this?
v) And what about the straight fans?
Other Queer Judy Topics will be:
❤ Judy and Lesbians: Yes, you will get hits on Google if you search ‘Judy Garland Lesbians’ – but it’s all about whether she ‘was a lesbian’ or rather, if she had encounters with lesbians. We’ll talk about the ‘Judy as a part-time lez’ theory.
❤ … Judy’s opinions and stories about gay men and lesbians (or ‘gentlemen who have problems’ and ‘dykes’ as she liked to call us). Cuz all of that is fascinating too, part of the queer exploration of FTLOJ, and quite simply, hilarious and slightly insulting most of the time. So – really very Judy!
❤ Judy and her queer dad, many queer boyfriends, husbands and friends… and the queer bf/husbands/friends/fans of her daughter, Liza Minnelli
❤ Judy and Camp (enter the god that is Richard Dyer…)
❤ Tragic Judy as Camp and Queer
❤ Camp and queer women – oh that’s a whole film right there!
❤ How Judy is ‘queered’ by all of this…
So you see, all of this is MUCH too big for a lil ole blog post – you’ll just HAVE to come and see the theatre show and watch the film, won’t you?
Corinna Tomrley 2014