The Evolution of the Hollywood Gay Joke in Three Easy Stages

The history of queer characters in mainstream movies has been, at least in part, a history of heterosexual protagonists making fun of gay second bananas. It’s pretty much a given that the gay guy never gets to be the hero, so it boils down to how the supporting gay is going to be handled by the major players and what style of humor society has deemed appropriate for the era when the movie was made.

In the same way that gays off the screen spent the 20th century going from invisible to mocked to militant to a fact of life, so did the "funny" barbs sent our way on the big screen.

Phase One: “You’re gay, and you’re ridiculous.”

When movies began to talk in the late 1920s and beyond, gays were still pretty invisible in American society; that invisibility was mirrored on screen, particularly after the
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