Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bonnie and Clyde Q&A-- Was Clyde's Sexuality Ambiguous?

Short and sweet-- If you believe in the movie version of Bonnie and Clyde, w/Clyde's sexuality seemingly depicted as being ambiguous, based on callous & unsubstantiated rumors proliferated in modern times by John Toland and others after him-- then yes. If you believe in Bonnie & Clyde "History"-- as supported by those who knew Clyde best, and in realizing there's apparently no concrete evidence to support such a claim-- then no is the correct answer.

I suppose those who would ask over and over whether Clyde was a homosexual, could be the same folks who might ask-- what fruit B&C were eating when killed?? It looked to be a pear in the movie-- but in reality, there's no evidence there was ever a piece of fruit present.

I've got to look up the article I found a couple of years back, which outlines the rise and fall of male heterosexual expressions of affection common in the early 20th century-- which may explain the Clyde and Ray Hamilton hand holding photo. That singular picture, is the only real portrayal I can see-- to question Clyde's sexual focus. Criminal camaraderie may also explain this photo. Blanche's comment that W. D. didn't like to sleep alone, could also be considered within this debate-- however there's nothing else to back up any nefarious inference, concerning this Blanche revelation.

Almost every day, The B&CHB receives multiple key entry questions concerning this subject. For those here for that purpose-- please look up and read the August 8th, 2009 post entitled "Sordid Rumors and Innuendos Exposed"-- "Please"-- Por Favor, Bitte, Tevreden, Svp,
Nожалуйста, παρακαλώ Per Favore!!

There's no verifiable evidence to support a claim of Clyde Barrow being gay-- "none"--
ningunos, никакие, nenhuns, keine, nessun, κανένας, aucun, niets!! As such, this great challenge remains open-- if anyone knows of evidence to support sordid claims regarding Bonnie or Clyde-- I'm sure all would welcome hearing of this info.

At some point, there will be a follow up to the Sordid Rumor's and Innuendos piece.
Research is underway to identify the sources used by John Toland (apparently earlier published works)-- although this source info too, appears dubious.

12 comments:

BarefootOkieGal said...

Apparently not a single one of Clyde's contemporaries thought he was gay. A girl he dated before Bonnie said that he had no problems whatsoever - he was "all man." The criminals who ran with B&C would not have allowed a homosexual to have been the gang leader, and none of the people who ran with B&C ever even hinted that Clyde was gay. His own family members back that up - I believe that Marie once said something to the effect of, "If Clyde was gay, then why did he spend all his time running around with that girl?"

As far as the photo of Clyde holding hands with Ray Hamilton - well, B&C liked to pose, just as other kids do. I have some photos of my dad during WWII of he and his fellow soldiers goofing off - they had found an old dress and were taking turns wearing it and showing off their hairy legs and posing in supposedly "sexy" poses, while the other soldiers would pretend to ogle and gawk. Not gay - just comrades goofing off and acting up for the camera!

As far as WD not liking to sleep alone - well, if he grew up in a large family, he might never have slept in a room by himself (there was very little privacy in those days, and even a guest might be tucked into bed with someone else) and may have been a bit afraid! (He was, after all, a kid.) He himself said that he never saw anything "funny" about Clyde.

Also, at that time, there would have been a stigma against spending a lot of time with a homosexual man - what criminal would run the risk of being thought gay by association with Clyde, if there were any rumors about Clyde at this point? Clyde was definitely the boss, no matter who was riding along, and I don't think he would have been allowed to fill this role if he'd been though to be gay.

None of Clyde's contemporaries nor his family members thought he was gay. One of the best lines I've read on the subject (and again, I've forgotten the book!) stated it pretty clearly: The only known homosexual activity by Clyde consisted of being raped in prison, and he hated it so much that he killed the guy! Some people speculate that Clyde "turned gay" as a result of these experiences. Well - that's not what turns people gay. If anything, I think it made him mean-mad (to quote Ma Joad) and I think it led to his rage and hatred against the authorities.

BarefootOkieGal said...

You know, I had someone who had seen the movie but who didn't know much about B&C otherwise tell me that after he saw the movie, he found some pictures of Clyde and that Clyde seems to "stand a little funny." I guess that to him, Clyde's "standing funny" fit what he had gathered from the movie. I'm inclined to believe that Clyde stands a little "funny" because he was missing two toes!!! Maybe some people who saw pictures of Clyde "standing funny" took it the same way - who knows?

Also, "The Bonnie Parker Story" with Dorothy Provine had as its male protagonist someone who WAS a little "funny." I'm guessing that the depiction of "Guy Darrow" in this film carried over into the Penn movie - hey, Clyde must have been a little "funny!"

Also, I've read that they WANTED Clyde to have some type of sexual dysfunction in the movie, as an excuse for Bonnie being "man-crazy." Apparently the law and probably some other folks assumed that Bonnie had to be a raging nymphomaniac because she traveled with this gang of men; the "logical" guess that someone of that mindset might make is that there had to be other men around all the time to satisfy Bonnie, which would beg the bogus question, "Why can't Clyde satisfy her?" Well, if a person's mind runs that way, it would be logical for them to decide that there must be something wrong with Clyde. Naturally, the most logical assumption is that there were always men riding with B&C because it was the men who committed the crimes, while Bonnie for the most part kept watch, perhaps drove getaway cars, and maybe took a potshot at someone a time or two. Why people grasp at straws to explain something as relatively easy to understand as why Clyde traveled with men (they were his accomplices, NOT Bonnie's lovers!) is something I don't understand, but that's the way some people's minds work.

Also, J. Edgar Hoover weighed in with his opinion of Bonnie and Clyde, and his opinion of Bonnie was mighty low. I think it was easy for people to come to see Bonnie as a low-life nympho rather than to see her as what she was - a woman on the run with the man she loved. Once the public began to see Bonnie that way, and when they saw the photos of her playing tough with the cigar and guns and all, I think they were willing to believe anything bad about her morals and character and sexuality - and, knowing how people are, once they began to speculate about Bonnie, well, speculating about Clyde was the next logical step. I haven't found any evidence that anyone claimed Clyde was gay or impotent during his lifetime, though...

BarefootOkieGal said...

It's entirely possible that people take one look at Clyde, all 5'7" or 5'5" (I've seen a couple of different heights mentioned for him) and weighing in at about 120 lbs., and just ASSUME that he was somehow lacking in manhood what he was lacking in size. (I think about B&C and am struck by the fact that I would have towered over Bonnie, as I'm 5'-1/2" tall, and Clyde would not have had much over me either in size or weight!)

Small men aren't necessarily gay, but some people do make assumptions...

A. Winston Woodward said...

The article I found concerning male expressions of affection in the early 1900's, had a reference to activities such as hand holding. I found this interesting in light of the Clyde/Ray Hamilton photo. It was noted however, that these practices were pretty much discontinued-- by the time the 1930's rolled around.

I'll try to locate this article again, and make a link to it available on the blog. I agree with the idea that being a homosexual, would have been detrimental-- if not effective in rendering a criminal gang leader incapable of commanding respect. To me, the interest in Clyde's possibly being gay-- borders on the fanatical.

Perhaps many of these questions concerning Clyde's sexual orientation, are made by some searching for a gay icon-- rather than involving a true interest in B&C History??

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello Cindy--

Lots of speculation exists including your own, concerning all of this. Regarding the movie, it is known that B&C references from John Toland's 1963 book The Dillinger Days-- were an inspiration for the 1967 movie. Within Toland's book, he paints Bonnie as a nymphomaniac-- with W. D. Jones and Henry Methvin apparently employed in part, to satisfy her aberrant sexual desires. He also labels Clyde, as a small man with homosexual tendencies.

My feeling is, John Toland had much to do with proliferating these sexual views concerning Bonnie & Clyde. It's where Toland got his info from??-- which is the question for me. And not to miss an opportunity to be current, I feel B&C History can now thank Jeff Guinn in a like way-- for spreading unsubstantiated rumor, concerning Bonnie being a prostitute.

It's really too bad Jeff couldn't make an appearance where myself and others passionate about this history, would have had the opportunity to engage Jeff in a give and take regarding his book. Although some had worked in advance, to eliminate the possibility of a spirited face to face exchange between apparently myself, one other Historian and Mr. Guinn-- I must say I would have gladly burned a few bridges, for that opportunity.

BarefootOkieGal said...

It's amazing what the movie and Toland's book have done - I've read statements by people who worked on the Bonnie and Clyde movie who are convinced that Clyde was bisexual, and they toned that down for the movie; however, the source of their supposed knowledge is not given. I don't know if "Dillinger Days" is available anywhere, but I would be interested in reading it and seeing if there is anything in the footnotes that would justify these rumors about Clyde. I haven't yet run into any contemporary rumors about Clyde's sexuality - surely someone would have said SOMETHING, given their "popularity" with the police; if anyone would have had information like this about Clyde, it seems to me they would have used it to discredit him!

If there were indeed rumors going around about sexual deviation in the Barrow Gang, you'd think that the kidnapping of Percy Boyd would have been the perfect opportunity for them to have denied these rumors publicly, when Boyd asked if there was anything they wanted to tell the press. Instead of telling Boyd that they wanted people to know that they weren't some sort of traveling orgy, Bonnie wanted Boyd to let people know that she didn't smoke cigars!

(Now I'm off to see if I can locate the Toland book to see if I can figure out where he got his supposed information...)

A. Winston Woodward said...

Besides the book itself, there are 2 references you might want to search out concerning John Toland and The Dillinger Days. One is the intro to the paperback version of Fugitives. This book is titled The True Story of Bonnie and Clyde, circa 1968-- the yellow Signet paperback. Nelson Algren's intro addresses Toland's handling of B&C and these sordid rumors, which it seems-- Toland may have been the 1st to proliferate in literary form.

Toland's B&C rumors are also addressed in The Complete Public Enemy Almanac-- the book co-authored by our good friend Rick Mattix.

Jim from Atlanta said...

I was a CID agent in 1973. It was December, 73 when I interviewed W.D. Jones at a house in North Houston, Tx. regarding a missing person. Jones was very frank. He was living with a male paramour who was supporting Jones. Jones like to drink liquor and use drugs. He was on a narc list for selling qualudes. He alluded to running with B&C and I told hime that I saw the car with bullet holes at a tent show--I believe Bonnie was probably a nymphomaniac sociopath and Clyde was bi-sexual.

A. Winston Woodward said...

I would ask please, besides viewing W. D. Jones, in the circumstances you found him some 40 years after his involvement with Bonnie & Clyde-- what evidence can you call upon to support your beliefs concerning Bonnie & Clyde's rumored sexuality??

Clyde's being abused in prison, has never been definitively linked to Clyde changing his known sexual preference-- as evidenced by the women he was involved with, one of which he almost married.

The claim of Bonnie being a prostitute, to me is based on a Jeff Guinn misstep-- in surmising an autobiographical link to Bonnie within the poem "The Prostitute's Convention". Not only wasn't this poem ever proven to have been written by Bonnie (as 1/2 of the poems within the 10 poem Kaufman jail collection Poems from Life's Other Side weren't penned by her)-- but it's provenance as stated by Mr. Guinn in linking it to Marie Barrow was wrong!!

And if someone could please tell me which came 1st-- the Bonnie rumors or the Bonnie Tijuana Bible "Amputated"-- then maybe we could be on to something??-- or help reveal where these rumors originated.

mike said...

I asked Ralph Fults (running with bonnie and clyde) if clyde was homosexual and responded with a definite NO!

Melissa Noonan said...

I think the "man crazy" Bonnie rumor was started because she was a woman travelling with a group of men. Even today if you live in a small town and hang out with a group of males,especially ride in a car with them people assume you must be sleeping with all of them. My mom was born in the 41 and her older sister was born in 36 and I heard them many times talk about this girl or that girl "riding around with a carload of boys" even calling a man on the phone was considered shameful back in those days. I guess people assumed that if Bonnie was man crazy that obviously something was wrong with Clyde or he wouldn't have put up with it so he must have been gay

rasputin1963 said...

There is that story, as related in the memoir by Clyde's sister, that after Clyde got out of prison, he started wearing "fancy" clothes, and silk shirts which she and the family thought were effeminate, and he began speaking and acting in a mannered, fey fashion which they did not entirely approve of.