Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gay Sex? In The Great Gatsby?


Since June is LGBT Pride month, I thought I would call out one of the great overlooked sex scenes in the western canon. Whenever I ask people if they remember that gay sex scene in The Great Gatsby, they look at me with wonder. But here it is, I'll let you be the judge. This event takes place on page 42 of my edition, at the very end of chapter 2, when Nick has gone on a drunken bender in New York City with Tom and Daisy:

...Then Mr. McKee turned and continued on out the door. Taking my {Nick's} hat from the chandelier I followed.
"Come to lunch some day," he suggested as we groaned down in the elevator.
"Where?"
"Anywhere."
"Keep your hands off the lever," snapped the elevator boy.
"I beg your pardon," said Mr. McKee with dignity. "I didn't know I was touching it."
"All right," I agreed, "I'll be glad to."
... I was standing beside his bed and he was sitting up between the sheets, clad in his underwear, with a great portfolio in his hands.
...Then I was lying half asleep in the cold lower level of the Pennsylvania Station, staring at the morning "Tribune" and waiting for the four o'clock train.

I like that part about keeping his hands off the elevator boy's "lever." Now I've never done any research into critical analysis of this little scene, but it is curious. What is it? A story line the Fitzgerald dropped?

2 comments:

Alfred Utton said...

I just read that scene. Han't made the association with the "lever," but the bit between the ellipses seems pretty gay to me. Also, Nick describes Mr. McKee as "feminine" when he first arrives.

I actually just got on the Net to see if anyone else had had the same question and found quite a few posts asking whether Nick were gay.

Lizzie K said...

I believe Nick is bisexual, personally. This scene was obvious to me, but what about the one on the train, in chapter seven? Did anyone else notice that? Page 115 (in my book)

"My commutation ticket came back to me with a dark stain from his hand. That anyone should care in this heat whose flushed lips he kissed, whose head made damp the pajama pocket over his heart!
...Through the hall of the Buchanans' house..." So he goes from talking about who the conductor is kissing, and whose head leaves a sweat stain on his pocket, then suddenly he's at the Buchanans' house?

I definitely noticed this.