There’s something inexplicably redemptive about learning in adulthood that our childhood friends or heroes grew up gay. When Jennifer Knapp came out last year, I really, actually felt like someone had traveled back in a time machine to wrap the 2002-version of me up in a big ol’ hug. So imagine my joy when I read a “Where Are They Now” exposé last week about some of my best friends from elementary school — The Baby-Sitters Club — and discovered that Kristy Thomas is an out-and-proud lesbian now!
Well, that got me thinking, “Whatever happened to my other favorite childhood protagonists?” Thank God for Google, am I right? Through the series of nets and tubes that make up this wide web, I uncovered some delightful news about my old friends.
Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) was a bit of a mess after Diana Berry married the insufferable Fred Wright at the behest of her family. They’d barely graduated from high school, Anne had objected. And surely Diana didn’t love him. Not like Diana loved her. In the days leading up to the wedding, she pleaded with Diana to run away with her, promised she’d make Diana happier than any man ever could. But Diana’s sense of familial responsibility got the best of her. Anne left Avonlea the day after the wedding, and didn’t even return home for the birth of Diana’s first child, the already-smug Frank Jr.
Anne dated Royal Gardner, a fellow student at Redmond for a while. And she always had a soft spot for Gilbert Blythe. She returned to Avonlea when she heard he had typhoid fever, intending, in fact, to marry him. He was amiable; she knew he’d make a good companion. But on a fateful trip — for hadn’t it always been fate with them? — down the creek in a rowboat, reciting Lady of Shalott to herself for what have been the millionth time, Anne ran into Diana. Frank Jr. must have been three by then, or maybe four. But when their eyes met, no time had passed at all. She was still Anne Shirley. And Dianna was still her bosom buddy.
They lived happily together at Green Gables for the rest of their lives, raising Frank Jr. as their own son. They adopted more children, of course, and when Anne wasn’t writing her novels, she wove fantastical stories around her own children.
Frank Sr. lit himself on fire one night after telling Diana he was going to light himself on fire if she didn’t come home and cook his dinner. It was quite a sight.
Scout Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird) was engaged to Dill Harris at the tender age of six, but the summer after second grade, they both knew it wasn’t going to work out. Scout didn’t have much time for her old friend Dill when Francis “Zippy” Johnson moved to Maycomb, Alabama. Much like Scout, Zippy loathed fancy clothes and fancy talk.
The attack on Pearl Harbor came while Scout and Zippy were still in high school, and as soon as they graduated, they moved together to Macon, Georgia to work in an airplane parts factory. After the war, Scout wanted to move back to Maycomb to help Jem and his wife cope with the loss of Jem’s leg (He’d been on the front lines in the South Pacific), but Zippy had plans to move up to Atlanta and start college. It was 25 years before they met again, at a Lavender Menace conference in Washington DC. Zippy was wearing a “Folks is folks” pin, and Scout knew right then that they’d grow old together, fighting injustice and sharing each other’s overalls.
Like every other lesbian in the world, Charlotte Lucas (Pride and Prejudice) always knew she was gay for Elizabeth Bennet. She also knew she had to marry a man if she hoped to have a future that included things like food, and a place to sleep. Charlotte enjoyed Lizzy’s occasional visits to the home she shared with her dim-witted husband, Mr. Collins. But after Lizzy married Mr. Darcy, the visits became few and far between.
And then Maud Lilly rolled through town. She had the same quick wit as Elizabeth, the same affectionate air. But where Lizzy stopped at hugs and kisses on the cheek, Maud Lily’s affection was unquenchable. She and Charlotte spent two blissful weeks alone Mr. Collins was off attending to business for Lady Catherine. Charlotte didn’t mourn the end of their holiday; the door may have shut on their time together, but a new world had opened itself up to Ms. Collins.
I couldn’t find any information on Lyra Belacqua from The Golden Compass, but I did find this photo. Interesting, right?
What book characters from your childhood do you think grew up gay?