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Q: Analysis of Gay's Affinity with Pooh ( No Answer,   6 Comments )
Subject: Analysis of Gay's Affinity with Pooh
Category: Relationships and Society > Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual
Asked by: vigilare-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 24 Aug 2002 14:32 PDT
Expires: 23 Sep 2002 14:32 PDT
Question ID: 58174
In Paul Monette's book "Last Watch of the Night", as he is walking
through a graveyard, he searches the gravestones for "stray
quotation[s] from Hamlet or Pooh". The suggestion is that this is a
signal that the people buried thare are gay, and that there is some
link between gays and Winnie the Pooh.

Searching Google provides enough denial and tasteless jokes about it
to prove to me that there is something to the statement that gays have
an affinity towards Pooh.

Can you find something that actually discusses this affinity seriously
and with some intelligent insight?
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Analysis of Gay's Affinity with Pooh
From: pinkfreud-ga on 24 Aug 2002 19:42 PDT
This does seem like the sort of subject that is worth some serious
attention. Many decades ago, I remember reading an article in "After
Dark" magazine that examined the affinity that many gay men have for
Judy Garland. As an icon, Winnie the Pooh is certainly poles apart
from Judy; it is interesting that such dissimilar "mascots" should be
shared by gay culture.

I wonder whether Pooh's special status in the gay community might stem
from this passage found in "The House at Pooh Corner":

"When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things,
you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you
is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people
looking at it."

While I'm sure it was not A.A. Milne's intent to sum up the experience
of "coming out," this quote could have striking relevance in that
Subject: Re: Analysis of Gay's Affinity with Pooh
From: vigilare-ga on 25 Aug 2002 13:50 PDT
Yes, there may be something to that.  Even if the image wasn't
intentional, it still is a powerful one for gays.  For example, a lot
of gays also relate to Harry Potter in a similar way.  There are
several aspects of the story that resound with being gay and coming

- having a shameful secret that is known to the family that no one
else can know.
- not naming this shameful secret, and actively discouraging
discussion of it.
- being afraid of other people (the neighbours) discovering this
- the secret being a natural, uncontrollable part of Harry, something
he was born with and had no choice in
- being persecuted by his family because of it (being called
- having it run in the family
- discovering it one day in a surprise event
- having it all come together and move into an environment where it is
supportive and entirely natural
- discovering that many other people are the same way, they also hide
themselves from society to various extents

I'm referring to "magic", but you could easily substitute "being gay
or lesbian" for all of the above.

Anyway, back to Pooh...

I notice that most of the jokes on the net revolve around sexual acts
and various forms of domination.  This is the thing that leads me to
think that the opposite symbolism is occurring with these characters. 
That is, the the spoofing is a misdirection to hide the underlying

Assuming there's something to the "misdirection" statement, several
aspects of the Pooh mythos seem particularly attractive to gay men:

- the almost complete exclusion of female characters
- the sole female character (Kanga) is a kind, motherly figure on the
- the male friendships are kind, caring, emotionally deep, tolerant,
supportive, and inclusive
- the characters are without malice (though they may lower themselves
to petty bickering from time to time, e.g.: Rabbit)
- many of the characters, although presumably simple, run deep in
their thoughts (sort of Yogi Berra-like characters).

I find the discussion of the Pooh mythos in "The Tao of Pooh" and "The
Te of Piglet" quite interesting, because it uncovers some of the
attributes of the various characters.

Some other random thoughts and non-scientific observations:

- I notice a lot of gay guys relate to Tigger's "It's all about me"
mentality.  Actually, Disney released a shirt a couple of years ago
that said exactly that and a lot of gay guys bought it.  Maybe there
is something to the impulsiveness and self-centeredness of Tigger.

- Many younger gays seem to like Piglet (innocence and nervousness
about proving oneself) or Eeyore (amusing gloominess?).

- The characters Rabbit, Owl, and Roo don't seem to be terribly
popular.  (Though they are not unpopular.  There seems to be more
indifference attached to them.)

- Pooh remains a bit of an enigma for me.  When gay guys say they like
"Pooh" they seem more to be referring to the characters or stories as
a whole, as opposed to the Pooh character.  I haven't been able to
figure out him yet.

- I haven't figured out how Christopher Robin fits into this yet. 
Some more random thoughts on him:
   - special deep friendship between Christopher Robin and Pooh
   - hand holding of two male friends (though Piglet and Pooh do this,
Subject: Re: Analysis of Gay's Affinity with Pooh
From: carla1-ga on 25 Aug 2002 19:54 PDT
Could be partly that the books show a little boy being gentle, kind,
affectionate and all of those other "feminine" characteristics, and,
rather than being reviled and despised for it, he's loved and
cherished by the whole world .... And, of course, the books are
hilariously "camp" in their faux niavete (much as I love the "Pooh"
stories, I'm always reminded of Dorothy Parker's "Tonstant Weader
fwowed up").
Subject: Re: Analysis of Gay's Affinity with Pooh
From: journalist-ga on 25 Aug 2002 22:29 PDT
Touche' pinkfreud - I believe you have found it.
Subject: Re: Analysis of Gay's Affinity with Pooh
From: stuartwoozle-ga on 26 Aug 2002 14:10 PDT
Hmmm. My nickname is Woozle - hence my userid on here. I'm not saying a thing...
Subject: Re: Analysis of Gay's Affinity with Pooh
From: netizenkane-ga on 05 Dec 2002 11:37 PST
I found this discussion fascinating for several reasons.  Although I'm
a 31-year-old gay man, I've never noticed a real interest in Pooh in
this community, although (and this is where it gets interesting) my
parents referred to me by the nickname of "Pooh" since I was very
young.  Later, I used it as a sobriquet for one boyfriend and am
currently now with a partner who has been nicknamed "Tigger" by
friends.  I guess you'd ask, then, how I haven't noticed the affinity
-- but honestly, I thought it was simply a component of gays' overall
fascination with Disney.  Some thoughts:

In general, I think popular childhood characters resonate with adult
gays for many reasons.  For one, there is the obvious connection with
youth, which has been historically prized in the gay culture. 
Clinging to these characters mentally is, in my opinion, a way of
retarding their discard from our lives and thus prolonging childhood.

Additionally, these characters are rich with symbolic importance. 
Many of Disney's most popular characters are based on archetypal fairy
tales that date back for centuries -- and thus resonate with enduring
themes, characters, and situations.  What little girl in a sparkling
play-gown (and women on their wedding day) don't feel a little like
Cinderella?  What middle-aged-but-juvenile playboy hasn't been labeled
Peter Pan?  Part of the reasons these stories and characters endure is
their near-universal applicability to individuals in our own lives.

Finally, it's important to note that many gay men lack the outlet of
"re-participating" in the enjoyment of these characters through
child-rearing.  Straight parents get all the exposure to childhood
characters they desire (via the three-year-old's incessant playing of
the "Snow White" DVD, the Halloween costumes, the storybooks, etc.) 
Gay men, lacking this outlet, perhaps more activally look for it

So, what about Pooh and his compatriots echoes themes often seen in
gay culture?  I think vigilare addressed many cogent themes in his
post (the exclusion of female characters, I think, being a very
powerful one).  However, I also think it's important to note that
these stories are relatively rare in their lack of stereotypical sex
roles and thinly-veiled sexual undertones.  If we think of Cinderella,
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Little Red Riding Hood, and other
popular childhood stories, we see a good deal of male-female pairing
up.  Pooh and gang, which possess less a conflict-driven story
structure and are more akin to a mythology in that way, don't
typically "go in" for that.

That's my $0.02!

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