A totally devoted John Wayne fan will deny any accusation that screams John Wayne could have been gay. From a group of blindsided, biased people, I could easily understand the outrage but in an era where films like Brokeback Mountain had huge success we must once again revisit the question was John Wayne gay?
John Wayne has been portrayed as a tough as nails, war fighting, cowboy that couldn’t be toppled from his horse. Women feigned over his southern twang and broad shoulders while they rested in damsel-in-distress-saving arms both on and off the set.
There have been arguments that because his first name was Marion that it hinted towards his more feminine ways that weren’t and couldn’t be seen on screen. However, the popular consensus is that his mother simply liked the name and failed to consider the consequences of giving a male child a female’s name.
Arguing against any gay connections, right-wing republicans remind us that John Wayne was a conservative republican. In 1943 Marion Morrison (John Wayne’s real name) was a part of the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals and was also a die-hard anti-communist. John Wayne was one of the most famous Republicans in Hollywood and he supported fellow actor Ronald Reagan. However conservative republics don’t like to take note of the fact that he also supported several liberal causes like the Patty Hearst situation; but could he have been just liberal enough to truly swing the other way?
During an interview with Playboy in 1971 John Wayne was quoted responding to a question about “pervert” films by saying, “Wouldn’t you say that…Midnight Cowboy, a story about two fags, qualifies?”
Red River was nicknamed “the gay cowboy movie” a long time ago and rumor has it that there are gay undertones to all of John Wayne’s films. It is no secret that he worked with a number of openly homosexual actors. The Duke worked with world famous actor Rock Hudson and the two eventually became best friends. Who’s to say how extensive and deep that relationship ran?
John Wayne also worked with Montgomery Clift who lived a gay/bisexual lifestyle in his personal life. Clift played a role in Red River and The Search for which he received a nomination for an Academy Award.
For a conservative republican John Wayne seemed to have no problem with the subliminal homosexual messages in his movies and working with known gay actors. It could be that he was comfortable with his sexuality even though in his day and age that was not a commonly used phrased. Or it could be, he felt comfortable with them because he was also gay. To date we still don’t have any hard facts to persuade us one way or another on John Wayne’s sexual preference. It will continue to remain a rumor which will most likely continue to divide the John Wayne fans right up the center with gay advocates championing The Duke’s queerness until the cows come home while actively conservative fans deny every bit of it.