On This Gay Day: ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was released

‘The Wizard of Oz’ was released in 1939 

Iconic film The Wizard of Oz made it’s debut on this day in 1939. The film became a favourite of the queer communities around the world, leading to the code phrase ‘friend of Dorothy’.

The adaptation of Frank L Baum’s 1900 novel was a success when it was first released, but it would not make a profit for the studio until it was re-released in the late 1940s.

The story of lonesome Dorothy and her dog Toto being swept away in a tornado to the mysterious Land of Oz, where she befriends a scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion, has been a children’s classic for generations.

It spawned a stack of memorable songs including Over the Rainbow, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, If I Only Had a Brain, We’re Off to See The Wizard and Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.

Many LGBTIQA+ people connected with the film and it’s story of leaving home and finding a brighter world, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin man and the Lion could be seen as a ‘found family’.  Dorothy is seen as accepting of the people she meets and is happy if the Lion is a “dandy lion”.

In Frank L Baum’s follow up book The Road to Oz also introduces readers to Polychrome who, upon meeting Dorothy’s travelling companions, exclaims, “You have some queer friends, Dorothy”, and she replies, “The queerness doesn’t matter, so long as they’re friends.”

There’s also a line where Dorothy asks the Scarecrow which way to go down the yellow brick road, and the Scarecrow replies, “Of course some people go both ways” which has been interpreted as a nod to bisexuality.

LGBTIQ audiences also connected with star Judy Garland’s challenged and tragic personal story, and her song Over the Rainbow.

OIP Staff

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