Monday, July 15, 2013

Lone Ranger and Tonto Out of the Closet

It’s been six months since I’ve written in this blog.  What got me back?  It turns out that the Lone Ranger and Tonto may be gay after all.

It’s an old joke that the Lone Ranger and Tonto were partners by the campfire as well as partners in the saddle.  Two men, alone in the wilderness, forsaking civilization (particularly women) and trusting entirely in each other?  It’s downright romantic. 

The argument against has always been that the 1930’s and 1940’s were simpler times and people didn’t write that kind of thing back then (people who think the early 20th century was a purer, simpler time may not have heard of things like the Jazz Age or the World Wars).  But what if two clearly gay characters show up in a story?  Can we really dismiss the subtext then?

The 4/13/38 radio episode Reward Money, starts by describing two long time pards:

Jake Caldwell and Lem Purdie had fought hard and work hard through all their years together.  They had seen stampedes, and dusty drives over long trails.  They had known good times and bad.  They quarreled, and each on more than one occasion had saved the others' life. 

They had never been parted, and as they grew old they lived in a small, two room shack, some distance from town, their lifetime savings hidden in their home. It is night as our story opens.  Jake, disturbed by a noise, excited awakens his partner.

(The YouTube link below goes to the same episode, quote above starting around 2:35)

There’s not much subtext here.  Their home, their savings, never been parted, growing old together.  Sounds like a marriage to me.  If we have two male side characters who are in effect married in a story, then maybe all of that burning subtext about the Lone Ranger and Tonto isn’t really subtext after all.

I don’t think it changes a thing about the old stories.  The friendship, trust, and companionship between the Lone Ranger and Tonto are evident in every episode and comic.  The exact physical expression doesn’t matter.  It’s not sex that binds two people together; it’s love.

And no, I haven’t seen the movie yet.  It looks like a train wreck.


  1. There is a train wreck in the movie and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it and the rest of the movie. It was a blast from the past.

  2. Ah... NO.

    Pal, there are lots of examples of long-time platonic male roommates. Our culture is just jaded.

    I think the tight outfit in the TV version is actually the gayest thing in the overall canon.

    1. pointing out the existence of many long-time ostensibly platonic male roommates does not obfuscate or dismiss the fact that two men decided early in the youth of their relationship that they'd rather be together for all time at one another's side than apart with women. if that isn't a marriage of commitment between two souls, then i don't know what is. besides, scores of married hetero couples are not sexually vigorous. the missing sexual heat of their marriage gives way to platonic companionship