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The Gay Lone Ranger
Some years ago I made an intensive study of the Lone Ranger, watching probably hundreds of hours of the series. At the time I was too young to realise what I was watching.
In hundreds of hours of viewing I never saw the Lone Ranger appear romantically interested in any female, despite many of the females being interested in him. It is not a question of delicacy or subtlety - which frankly was absent from the entire series - he was simply not interested.
His catamite Tonto was never seen in a heterosexual relationship. Given Tonto's Native American upbringing, and the social pressures on Native American men to marry, the fact that he never referred to a wife or sweetheart is clear evidence that Tonto's interests were elsewhere. So much so, that Tonto had to leave the tribe.
It is noteworthy that when The Lone Ranger and Tonto met Native American chiefs it was the Lone Ranger whom the chiefs wanted to talk to. Although Native Americans did and do tolerate homosexuality, this does not mean that they want to shake hands with a homosexual - and that was before Aids.
White America was not as tolerant of homosexuality, which is why the couple had to wander through the West, looking for somewhere where they could live together publicly.
They never got as far as the Bay area of San Francisco. In one episode they did come across someone who appears to be an ancestor of the famous Harvey Milk. The programme was made before Harvey Milk was involved in politics.
The Lone Ranger and Friend
The relationship between the Lone Ranger and Tonto was clearly exploitative. Tonto was never allowed to handle money, make purchase decisions, or even decide where they slept.
Tonto's horse was always inferior to the Lone Ranger's horse.
In every conversation between them the Lone Ranger was clearly the boss, even on the rare occasions when the Lone Ranger sought advice.
This reflected their relative social and economic realities. A gay Native American would have difficulty finding another available gay Native American outside the tribe structure, or even within it. Finding a white gay who was willing to delve across racial lines would also be difficult. The Lone Ranger, as part of the master race, could have his pick of white, black, and Native American sexual partners.
Tonto was always in a weak position. If Tonto was not interested in a berdache relationship within the tribe, his options were very restricted. It was the Lone Ranger or nothing.
The series featured two men of an age to be engaging in sexual activity who are never seen to be involved with women, or indeed with other men (this is 50s America TV don't forget). On the other hand, they spent a lot of nights out on the lonely prairie...
The Counter Argument
It could be argued that a series made for children would not contain sexual content. On the other hand, many series shown to children at that time did show married couples, and sometimes even courting couples. The ability of the series to go years without a touch of licit romance suggests there was illicit romance behind the scenes.How very odd that neither of them even mentioned an "old flame" or ever suggested any interest in heterosexual relationships.
I can understand that a series involving a homosexual mixed race couple would not have been aired in 50s America. It was obviously another example of the pink Liberal dishonest conspiracy against the morals of America. Don't forget that Tonto was a RED Indian.
Since writing the above, I have been asked to explain "berdache".
Several commentators noted across a number of tribes a man living with a wife or wives, one of whom was biologically a man. This biological man was socially a woman. The word for this relationship was "berdache". If Tonto was not willing to enter a berdache relationship, he might have had difficulty as straightforward gay relationships appear not to have happened.
A Feast of Lone Ranger
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