10

In my journey through the internet I came across this Reddit post which links a Cameo from Sean Astin (Sam in the LotR movies). If I understand correctly, he is responding to a question or paid for line from a fan asking about Frodo and Sam's relationship/sexuality.

I think Sam and Frodo should have kissed.. and my feeling about that is that, uh, you know, Rachel said to say that, um, to tell you that, you know, with a, you know, sort of kidding.

But why, why? First of all how do you know they didn't? You know what I mean? It's a long trek to Modor.

We loved, uh, the gay fanfiction when it came out. It was so, when it came out, like coming out of the closet, oh my gosh. Anyhow, our instinct when the movie came out was to, uh, just to love the fans, embrace the movie and the characters, and uh, and so whatever people want conceptualize for them is fine with us.

So there seems to be this trend among fans to portray Frodo and Sam as gay. My question is, did this start with the movies? Was it because of how Frodo and Sam were portrayed on screen by Elijah Wood and Sean Astin? Or is this trend older than the films and internet speculation?

8
  • 12
    It has occurred to me that nobody seems to have sex at all in the books. Good, they've got better things to do. But their children seem to turn up fully armed, as it were. Of course they don't need to go on about it, what they do in private is their own affair. It is rather nice that orcs don't seem to indulge in the usual bad treatment of women in war. OK, they eat them instead.
    – RedSonja
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 9:51
  • 4
    Frodo had a nice, gold ring in his possession for literally the entire saga and did nothing but violently refuse to give it to any of his male companions the entire time despite several of them asking for it. (well, except Gandalf)
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 23:41
  • 12
    @BlackThorn - And as soon as he had his first conversation with a female he tried giving her the ring.
    – ibid
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 2:01
  • 9
    Hardly a tenable interpretation. Surely Tolkien intended Frodo to be an admirable character. We could not admire him if he had a sexual relationship with Sam. Besides the age gap, there's the fact that Sam was a servant and Frodo was his employer; it could not have been consensual.
    – user14111
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 6:34
  • 11
    Tolkien was a devout Christian, Sam is canonically married to a girl in the end, and designating every male friendship as closeted gay relationship is honestly insulting.
    – Davor
    Commented Feb 1, 2023 at 16:18

1 Answer 1

41

This trend began within a few years of publication, at least as early as 1961

The first mention I can find of this theory is in a 1961 issue of the fanzine Sex in Science Fiction, in an article by Marion Zimmer Bradley titled "How Dragged Were My Heels".

Bradley doesn't seem to agree that the Frodo and Sam relationship should be classified as homosexual, but she definitely floats the idea.

And some writers --Judith Merril in a book whose name I have forgotten--glanced on the possibility that future spaceship crews or colonies on the moon, all-male, would have to compensate for possible repressed homosexual desires in themselves. Jerry Bixby, in SHARE ALIKE, has made almost the same point in a rather shuddery story of a man who enjoys contact with a (male) vampire. But must we now have a rash of stories whose authors feel conscientiously obligated to deal with the inevitable problem of homosexuality 'rearing its ugly head' in every spaceship story from now on, just because that problem is well and truly dealt with in one or two such stories? The writing on the wall might indicate that perhaps we must. The context of today decries male friendship to the point where the Hero and his Faithful Sidekick are no longer an acceptable story-material.....someday remind me to print my commentary on the something-or-other person who described Batman and Robin in those terms. And yet I wonder if this can't be as grotesque as the compulsive attempt to prove via fiction that this hero and his girl couldn't live chastely in a spaceship for two weeks. I'm thinking of Tolkien again, perhaps because this point recurred so often in my paper on Men, Halflings and Hero Worship. The "Mount Doom" sequence, Sam's care for and emotional preoccupation with Frodo, the growing closeness and intimacy between them, the intensely emotional and moving quality of their love for one another, certainly places this in the category of classic David-and-Jonathan friendships. And you know what our hypothetical compulsive seeker of Freudian realism would say about that!

I emphasize this point because it was forcibly called to my attention when a friend suggested that I should include the last two of the Tolkien series on my annual listing of fiction dealing with homosexual and variant themes. I pooh-poohed the notion, as did my co-editor. However, once the point had been raised in my hearing, I discussed it -- not to put too fine a point on the matter --with several persons who, to my knowledge, were capable of at least an emotional response and/or reaction to their own sex. All agreed on one point; that this portrayal was both innocent and at the same time particularly moving for the quality of unselfish love and devotion expressed. All -- to my mild surprise, being used to hearing some of these biased critics demand that David and Jonathan must be openly claimed among the homosexual aristocracy -- were in absolute agreement that Tolkien's "real" meaning could safely be left to a psychoanalyst and that the books should NOT be included on such a listing!

Sex in in Science Fiction (1961) - Digitized as part of Marquette University's Tolkien fanzine digitization project.

The Return of the King was published in 1955, making this just six years after publication. It is very possible that there are earlier fanzines or other publications that have suggested this, but if so they seem to have been lost to time. Note though that Bradley talks about this as if it isn't a novel idea.

So I think it's safe to assume that merited or unmerited, this idea was being discussed since the very beginning.

14
  • 10
    @Spencer - Also should mention that celibacy was literally a requirement to teach at Oxford until very shortly before Tolkien's time. There was an expectation that a professor should be devoted to their job and unmarried.
    – ibid
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 21:15
  • 25
    I always wonder why some people insist that everyone who doesn't have sexual relations publicly with persons of the other/another sex is automatically supposed to be homosexual. Whatever happened to not bringing the bedroom into stories? The fellowship had better things to do than try to get laid. If I remember correctly there was mention of a romantic thing between Frodo and a girl somewhere, maybe introduced in the 2nd edition to stamp out the idea of him being homosexual (and I guess it never made it into the movies)
    – jwenting
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 11:58
  • 10
    @jwenting I don't think that's the inference being made at all - it's not about Frodo and Sam's lack of interest in anyone else, nor about "sexual relations" and "the bedroom" - as the quoted text says, it's about "the growing closeness and intimacy between them, the intensely emotional and moving quality of their love for one another". Also, being romantically or sexually interested in a woman in no way stops someone also being romantically or sexually interested in a man. If anything, it's a debate about where to draw the line between "deep friendship" and "romance".
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 14:30
  • 13
    FWIW, Sam does canonically marry Rose Cotton and I believe children were mentioned. Frodo of course goes off to the Grey Havens, where the only other hobbit there is his uncle, so his only chance at a heterosexual relationship at that point would be maybe meeting a nice elf lady, but I suspect such concerns are behind you when you go there, as it can be interpreted as something of an afterlife... Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 14:37
  • 9
    @jwenting I think it's just pushback against the idea that until very shortly, even someone who was pretty much openly as gay as they get would have that part of them erased from history because "the gay didn't exist back then". It's just cropping up a lot because the taboo on suggesting people who lived with their "best friend" for 50 years, never married, and were buried next to each other, might have been gay.
    – Erik
    Commented Jan 31, 2023 at 18:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.