Can Meryl Streep Make Homophobic Julia Child Into a Gay Icon?
To judge from all the men I've seen at the annual West Hollywood Halloween carnival dressed as The Devil Wears Prada's Miranda Priestly, Meryl Streep has the ability to transform just about any character into a gay icon. On the face of it, then, her role as Julia Child in Julie & Julia should be an easy layup for that demographic, as the strapping Child was a gender pioneer in the kitchen, a campy presence on TV, and an acclaimed chef who loved to call gay men "homovipers." Wait, what?
On the eve of the film's release, blogger Joe My God recalls that Child was well-known for her homophobia, and was even sued when she blocked a gay chef from an executive position with the American Institute for Wine and Food. Two years ago, Boston magazine excerpted a work by Laura Shapiro which comprehensively detailed Child's prejudices:
Homophobia was a socially acceptable form of bigotry in midcentury America, and Julia and [her husband] Paul participated without shame for many years. She often used the term pedal or pedalo -- French slang for a homosexual -- draping it with condescension, pity, and disapproval. "I had my hair permanented at E. Arden's, using the same pedalo I had before (I wish all the men in OUR profession in the USA were not pedals!)," she wrote to Simca. Fashion designers were "that little bunch of Pansies," a cooking school was "a nest of homovipers," a Boston dinner party was "peopled by 3 fags in an expensive house.... We felt hopelessly square and left when decently possible," and San Francisco was beautiful but full of pedals--"It appears that SF is their favorite city! I'm tired of them, talented though they are."
The opposite of homosexual, in her terminology, was "normal" or "well muscled" or "very masculine!" Or, as she often put it, "real male men." Lesbianism was less of an affront to her, though she felt sorry for women so sexually benumbed that they were not attracted to men. ("Can't be much fun.")
Eventually, the article asserts, the AIDS crisis tempered Child's demeanor somewhat. Why, look how well Child eventually got along with this trannie, with whom she made pita bread!
Just kidding, that is married Canadian chef Jeffrey Alford dressed up as Anton Chigurh, for some reason.
· Julia Child, Homophobe [Joe. My. God.]