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This queer film festival reveals the asexuality allegory in The Wizard of Oz

This queer film festival reveals the asexuality allegory in The Wizard of Oz

Billie Burke as Glinda and Judy Garland as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

This year’s programming for Scottish Queer International Film Festival couldn’t be more diverse and involves a retelling of The Wizard of Oz.

Kicking off on 5 December, the five-day festival highlights include LGBTI films from all over the world, challenging mainstream perspectives.

The Wizard of Oz, particularly, questions the story seen as Dorothy’s lesbian awakening.

Asexuality in The Wizard of Oz

The festival’s reimagining of the popular children book by L. Frank Baum and the even more popular 1939 movie adaptation starring Judy Garland, in fact, revolves around asexuality.

‘We have always wanted to do an event around asexuality at SQIFF,’ festival programmer Helen Wright told Gay Star News.

They explained that they came across this asexuality theory while talking to a member of the asexual community.

Wright researched further and found ‘an asexual reading of The Wizard of Oz online, posted on The Asexual Visibility & Education Network in the US by a user called Spoofmaster.’

‘The reading riffs off a film academic called Alexander Doty’s interpretation of The Wizard of Oz as a lesbian story, with the Wicked Witch of the West being a butch lesbian and Glinda the good witch being the femme. Dorothy is caught between them discovering her lesbian sexuality during her adventure to Oz.’

The assumption that Dorothy is ‘sexual’ might be wrong

Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West with Burke and Garland.
Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West with Burke and Garland. | Photo: MGM

‘But the asexual reading complains this is assuming that Dorothy is sexual, a common assumption in our society,’ they said.

‘The gist is Dorothy is a child and the tornado that carries her off to Oz represents the force of societal expectation that she will develop a traditional adult sexuality,’ Wright explains.

But Dorothy chooses non-macho, non-human male companions, such as her dog Toto and the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Lion. She shows no interest in adult sexuality, explained Wright.

‘And Glinda is more akin to an oversized fluffy pink five-year-old princess wannabe than to a sexual adult.’

‘As asexuals are thought of by society as being childlike, Glinda can also be seen as an asexual character. Therefore, Dorothy gravitates towards her in order to explore her own asexuality.’

Those ruby slippers

The ruby slippers are also a hint to that, Wright added. With shoes being traditionally linked to female sexuality, Dorothy’s refusal to wear them might be a clue.

‘I think it’s really interesting that so much queer culture has focused on The Wizard of Oz,’ continued Wright.

They also explained that queer readings of films are just as valid as straight ones. And asexual readings, so often marginalized, need to be explored.

‘So much of our culture is based on the idea everyone and everything must be focused on sex all the time.’

Why SQIFF is important

SQIFF tries to be as inclusive as possible and not just in their programming.

When it comes to tickets, they adopt an honesty sliding scale of £0-£8 depending on what individuals can afford.

‘We try with SQIFF to create a friendly and warm environment especially for LGBTQIA+ people to be able to enjoy films which represent them whilst also feeling part of a community,’ Wright said.

‘We just want as many people as possible, and especially those who are often marginalized from arts event cause they can’t afford or access them for some reason, to feel welcome and included.’

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