Ok, admit it. Every year you watch the Rankin/Bass version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and so do I. It is one of those classic Christmas flicks that we watch every year along with A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. One thing that probably didn’t occur to you though, was that Rudolph was gay.
As a child growing up I identified with little gay Rudolph. I knew I was different from the other children at a young age, just like Rudolph. I was awkward at sports, kids “called me names” and did not want me to play in their “reindeer games”. I had a gal pal, like Clarice-still do today, and I had my share of other misfit friends like Hermy. While my father was alway supportive of me, Rudolph’s father is ashamed of him and even tries to “cover up” his flamboyant tendencies. Even Santa in the beginning of the story is not supportive of poor Rudolph. Santa could be thought to represent the government, the religious right, or even mainstream society. One might even make the case that Yukon Cornelius would be known in gay culture as a “bear”. Bears are hairy, husky, usually bearded, gay men. Just as Rudolph, I have hung out with my share of Yukons.
Do I think that the creators really meant to portray Rudolph as a gay youth? Probably not, but I can assure you that the experiences and feelings that this character suffered have been felt by many a gay child. All children… whatever their difference… should be encouraged to “take flight” and express their natural “glow”.