A Streetcar Named Desire

Disguised Homosexuality in A Streetcar Named Desire College

A Streetcar Named Desire is at its surface, an undoubtedly heterosexual play. Allan Grey, its unseen gay character, makes homosexuality a seemingly marginal topic within the play. But a deeper reading of the text suggests the opposite. Tennessee Williams uses heterosexual characters as surrogates to discuss queer sexuality in a time when homosexuality was a taboo, and typically discussed through metaphor.

Allan is merely a footnote in the plot of Streetcar but thematically, he’s a vital character. Georges-Claude Guilbert explains his significance in“Queering and Dequeering the Text,” Allan fits several gay stereotypes without being “the least bit effeminate-looking.” He exemplifies gay stereotypes through the “dead queer motif, a trope commonly employed by Williams in his plays. This trope equates the lonely “poet maudit” to a “monster, freak or mad(wo)man,” and therefore queer. So although his purpose is mainly expositional, it establishes homosexuality as a presence within the text. Williams uses Allan to frame desire beyond the binary of straight men and straight women, facilitating queer interpretations of the text.

In his analysis of The House of Bernarda Alba, Juan M. Godoy explains that gay playwrights often express...

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