It’s an opening line that’s compelled generations of teens: “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight, from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and cruising for dudes ...”
That’s not really what was vying with Newman for attention in the mind of S.E. Hinton’s Ponyboy at the start of The Outsiders. He just wanted a ride home. But that’s not good enough for the contemporary LGBT industry. Ponyboy – and Johnny, Darryl, Sodapop and Dallas – must have been gay.
Modern progressivism, which we’re told is the most empathetic of world views, usually turns out to be the opposite. Relentless identity politicking produces a near-pathological need to see oneself or one’s obsessions everywhere.
Case in point: Ponyboy’s emphatic not-gayness. S.E. Hinton didn’t write about gays 50 years ago when she penned The Outsiders. How do we know? She said so. But her assurances don’t matter. Certainly not to The Huffington Post’s Claire Fallon, who wrote Jan. 9:
The novel, which depicts close, caring relationships between poor and rough-around-the-edges teen boys, lends itself particularly well to interpretations of homoeroticism and submerged gay romance. Though many of Hinton’s fans are eager to read these shades of queerness in her 50-year-old story, she has repeatedly, and controversially, denied that her characters are gay ― and last week, she went so far as to claim that she was “being attacked for being hetero.”
“Lends itself particularly well?” Maybe, the way everything looks like a nail to a guy with a hammer. “Close, caring relationships” between teens have just got to be gay. And when the one person who is in a position to confirm or deny says no, it’s controversial.
Fallon included a string of tweets in which Hinton flat out-denied the gay angle. When Hinton finally had enough, she tweeted “#ThingsIWontApologizeFor I am a heterosexual writer writing about heterosexual characters. Being attacked for being heterosexual.”
Which drew this genius response:
It’s a perspective Fallon shared, writing, “Hinton did herself no favors with fans by framing herself as a victim and evincing knee-jerk irritation at the idea of her tightly knit gang of teenage boys being involved in gay love affairs.” Yeah, victimhood is only for approved groups, and how dare Hinton get irritated with our grafting our gay agenda onto her characters.
Fallon ended generously, however: “Maybe we’re all better served by focusing on the outstanding YA fiction about LGBTQ kids being published today ― and feeling absolutely free to believe, in our hearts, that Johnny and Dally were in love.”
Big of her. Twisted, but big.
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