Displaced icons of art

Prompted by Michael Palmer on Facebook, this Bizarro pun from 9/9/12:

(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 7 in the strip from which this panel is extracted — see this Page.)

This cartoon was the third, and by far the best, of the set of Sunday Punnies for that day:


#1 has two extraordinarily famous figures from Western art — Thomas Gainsborough’s portrayal of Blue Boy (1779) and Leonardo da Vinci’s portrayal of the Mona Lisa / La Gioconda (c. 1503-06) — somehow cast adrift in a modern city not unlike New York. No longer on canvas, but now on the streets of a metropolis

Then the pun: canvas / Kansas, alluding to a well-known quotation from the movie of The Wizard of Oz (1939). From the tv tropes site on “Not in Kansas Anymore”:

A Stock Phrase referencing The Wizard of Oz, used to express the realization that the character is in a completely unfamiliar (or indeed otherwordly) place.

The original quote was “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” But it is sometimes misquoted as “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore, Toto.”

Superman, no longer in Kansas (he grew up as Clark Kent in Smallville KS):


Though there was surely no gay subtext intended in #1, someone with an eye attuned to these things can find one: in Blue Boy and in the allusion to the Wizard of Oz.

Gay Blue Boy. From my 4/28/17 posting “Faces follow-up 1: Master Beckford” (about the flamboyant William Beckford), a recognition that soon after Gainsborough painted Blue Boy, it happened that the adjective blue developed a sexual sense, adding a possible sexual tinge to Blue Boy.

 Then, in a separate development, in the U.S. in the 20th century, it seems primarily through clothing marketers, pastel pink came to be associated with girl babies, pastel blue with boys, and then pink came to be seen generally as a feminine color and blue as masculine, which meant that pink things for men came to connote effeminacy (and therefore homosexuality — as a result, some men are still wary about dressing in anything pink) and blue things assertive masculinity — which in combination with blue connoting sex makes blue available as a color for gay macho.

Put that together with Gainsborough’s Blue Boy as a well-known figure of confident young manhood, and I suppose it was inevitable that in an age of increasing sexual freedom, there would appear a [pornographic] magazine for gay men called Blue Boy (or Blueboy) [1974-2007].

(#4) From Master Beckford to Most Hung Studs Ever…

Not in Kansas anymore. From the jacket copy for Dee Michel’s Friends of Dorothy: Why Gay Boys and Gay Men Love “The Wizard of Oz” (2018)


No it’s not just Judy! Gay men love not only the MGM film but other stories set in Oz — the original books, more recent books with Oz themes and settings, and stage and screen productions like The Wiz. In Friends of Dorothy, based on interviews with more than one hundred gay Oz fans, Dee Michel explains the enduring appeal of Oz for gay men and boys. Interviewees include Gregory Maguire (Wicked), Robert Sabuda (the pop-up Wizard of Oz), and William Mann (Kate: The Woman Who Was Hepburn). The book also tackles the long-taboo topic of gay boys, examining their feelings about escaping to Oz, the characters they identify with, and the psychological and spiritual uses they make of stories set in Oz. The many voices in Friends of Dorothy, along with extensive research and analysis, provide a richly layered look at the allure of Oz, with insights into gay culture, gay psychology, and gay folklore.

Dee’s note d, p. 27:

Two pieces of the movie in particular also appear often in gay contexs. “I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” is a favorite camp line [citations from Lisa Keen 2008 and Leigh Rutledge 1989] … And “Over the Rainbow” is often considered a theme song for the gay community.

Bonus from the book: a print on p. 175, repeated on the back cover, Once in a Lullaby by Michael Breyette (2010):

(#6) On Breyette’s website: Art of Michael Breyette: Pastel artist of the male figure, nudes and gay themes. Romantic. Lustful. Whimsical. Thoughtful.

The artist’s story about #6:

As they left the theater they felt moved not only by the spectacle and songs, but also by the underlying theme of the film. Throwing caution to the wind they kissed on the street in public. Something very taboo for 1939. They closed their eyes and wished, perhaps one day they would not have to hide their lives in the shadows, but simply live and love freely in a land that they heard of once in a lullaby.

With this added comment:

I find it fascinating that The Wizard of Oz came out (no pun intended) over 70 years ago, and yet remains such a big part of gay culture today. I can’t fathom what it must have been like to be gay in 1939.

Back to Dee’s book, from last year. From his blog on 6/11/18 “Gay Men and the Wizard of Oz”:

(#7) The author outside a gift shop in Toronto’s gay neighborhood

I am the author of a new book, “Friends of Dorothy: Why Gay Boys and Gay Men Love The Wizard of Oz.

Researching, writing and getting this book out there has been a long process (twenty years!), but things have accelerated in the last few weeks. As a first time author, I thought readers might be interested in the process of writing, publishing and marketing my first book. As well as reflecting on the past, I will be talking about what is happening currently with the book: readings and other special events.

So, what is the story with Oz and gay men? It’s not simply a matter, as many people assume, of gay men being into Judy Garland. I have interviewed over 100 gay Oz fans and it turns out gay men are also fans of the Oz books, as well as Wicked and The Wiz. Also my respondents became fans when they were as young as 3 or 4 or 5 years old. Even if their first exposure to Oz was the MGM film with Judy Garland, they were not signing on to fandom because they gave heard that Judy is a gay icon, or that they themselves were aware of being gay. Something is going on at a much deeper level. Themes of all sorts in stories set in Oz resonate with young gay boys.

“Friends of Dorothy” details the existence of the Oz-gay connection, presents responses of individual fans to Oz stories, and then puts the phenomenon of gay love of Oz into a broader social and cultural context.

So much for friends, what about enemies? From Randy McDonald on Facebook on 7/10/18, posting about “It’s Tough Being Queer in America, So Enemies of Dorothy Want You to Laugh Until You Cry” by Daniel Villarreal on 7/2/18:

There’s something funny about being gay. We’re told not to be gay so we can go to heaven with the homophobes. We mock our enemies by saying they’re secretly one of us. We’re proud of our inclusivity but dislike old people and bisexuals. We’re a wealth of contradictions, and it’s there that queer comedy troupe Enemies of Dorothy mine their humor.

The name is a play on the term “Friends of Dorothy” (an old-timey euphemism for gay men), and they’re building up a catalog of hilarious sketches on their YouTube page, tackling everything from dating conservatives to banning straight people from Pride. They’re also attracting the likes of other talented queer comedians like Michael Henry, and this month their work will be showcased at Outfest, L.A.‘s renowned LGBTQ film festival.

The troupe was founded in 2016 when Christopher Smith Bryant and Ryan Leslie Fisher, boyfriends of three years, wanted to voice their feelings following the election of U.S. President [REDACTED].

… One of their earliest sketches (below) advertises a non-existent LEGO playset for U.S. Vice President [REDACTED]’s ex-gay conversion therapy camp, a jab at [his] support for programs that “change people’s sexual behavior.” The LEGO playset has a campfire, a pool slide, a treehouse with a tire swing and an electrocution chamber where gay boys can be zapped straight. And it’s brought to you by the Westboro Baptist Church (y’know, the “God hates fags” people).

One Response to “Displaced icons of art”

  1. Dee Michel Says:

    I have zillions of examples (well, maybe 1/4 zillion) of various uses of this phrase, in case anyone wants. Including T-shirts.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: