Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Friends of Dorothy: Why Gay Boys and Gay Men Love The Wizard of Oz

So why do gay men love The Wizard of Ozor more often than not, many different incarnations of Ozso much? Why is the MGM film a gay film classic and why are people dressed as Oz characters a common sight at Pride events?

Dee Michel has been researching this for a very long time. His first panel about it was at the Centennial convention in 2000, and shortly after he penned an article on the topic in The Baum Bugle. Now after sending a questionnaire out to over 100 gay/bisexual/pansexual male Oz fans ("gay" is used as an umbrella term, not strictly homosexuals), he presents a more nuanced and multifaceted approach in his new book.

Over the course of ten chapters and multiple appendixes, Michel details commonalities between many of the narratives he's heard. He talks about many of the ways gay fans have celebrated Oz from drag performances, naming shops and items after Oz, to starting companies named after Oz characters or even just writing Oz books or stories, or blogging.

Michel takes his research seriously and isn't salacious about how he presents his findings. He discusses the cultural connotations of Oz in its various incarnations and how readers and viewers respond to it, pointing to the relevance that gay male audiences latch onto. He also breaks down some gay Oz folklore and questions how relevant Oz will remain in the future.

Michel shares anecdotes based on the stories he collected. I was surprised at how many of these people I've met online or at OzCon International and how relatable I found many stories.

Michel writes in an accessible voice, taking the time to explain his points and how he's approaching the subject. He also offers generous footnotes to fully explain his points and sometimes even pointing out cases that prove generalizations are never the rule.

The book also features a lot of images, from illustrations from the Oz books to various photos of young fans to gay fans celebrating Oz as well as images displaying the cultural significance Oz has in relation to the LGBT community.

Overall, I'm impressed with the book and heartily recommend it.

Dee Michel will be having another panel at OzCon International this year and will also have a book signing where he will sell and sign copies of this book on August 10. If you're coming make sure you're signed up for Friday or the full convention.

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