Lesbians & Fried Green Tomatoes

Today’s post is a bit different from the usual. I don’t generally write about pop-culture. However, I think some of you may relate to this. Enjoy!

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What do I have in common with middle-aged, conservative housewives? A weakness for a good old-fashioned lesbian love story! Ok, ok—not too many of those sweet (and very hetero-) ladies even realize it, but it’s true nonetheless. What am I talking about? Fried Green Tomatoes of course!—(the work of fiction, not the southern comfort food… although I’ve been known to have an occasional hankerin’ for that, as well.) It’s true… the 1991 film was adapted from Fannie Flagg’s 1987 novel, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café, which unabashedly carried a lesbian theme throughout the storyline—and even managed to do so without mentioning the word. Fannie Flagg has been out as a lesbian woman for decades, and she knows how to write a classic! The film even won a GLAAD Media Award for “best lesbian content”. So how is it that many fans of the film don’t even realize it’s a love story between two women? Because the film adaptation was slightly altered so that the lesbian themes became more covert. Let’s face it… an undisguised girl-loves-girl plot line would have never made it to mainstream cinema in the early 90’s. But any girl who’s ever been in love with their best friend doesn’t need overt cues from the director to understand what the story is really about.

The relationship between Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison is accepted by everyone in their small town of Whistle Stop. Perhaps the author wanted to create a perfectly accepting world for the two of them, or perhaps the people of Whistle Stop simply never paused to question the nature of their bond. Idgie fell in love with Ruth at a young age, and their connection continues to unfold in the book. The friendship between the two becomes something more, as they share their everyday life in gentleness, compassion, and love. Set in 1920’s Alabama, the cultural backdrop makes me reminiscent of the stories my grandmother would tell, complete with good ‘ole southern church, honest people, and of course, fried green tomatoes.

I have to admit, I giggle inside every time this movie comes up in conversation. Almost without fail, every woman loves it. I find myself subconsciously smiling widely at the fact that they get it. They get me… without even knowing it. I wonder how differently they would react if they knew the story behind the story. I wonder how they would feel knowing that a pure, wholesome love story can happen between two women. I wonder how things would change if they realized that love is just that… love.

Purchase the film.

Purchase the book.

7 responses to “Lesbians & Fried Green Tomatoes

  1. ZOMG I LOVE THIS MOVIE and BOOK !!!!! Got goosebumps even on my legs at seeing your post here! The movie moves me so much I can’t watch it but once every couple of years (of course I own both the movie and book!). I am a complete basket case afterwards. Jessica Tandy always makes me think of my grandmother and the death scene with Ruth and Idgie is just brutal for the heart.

    • I can relate with not wanting to watch it but once every couple of years. It’s too heavy and intense for frequent viewing!🙂 But all of this makes me want to watch it again soon. Maybe I’ll have to include it in this weekend’s movie lineup.

  2. Love this movie. Love Mary Stuart Masterson. Love this post.

  3. Fried Green Tomatoes is a very wholesome movie that always leaves me with a smile as well. It is nice to see that two people no matter what their sexual preference have such a close bond. It’s a great movie.

  4. Oh, please. Really?

    • Hi there, Anonymous. I hope you’re doing well. It sounds like you and I may not see eye to eye on some things… but at least perhaps we share a love for a fantastic movie?🙂

  5. Fannie, Patsy Neal, is cousin to my brother in law, Neal Shepherd. Her father and his mother are siblings. When my sister and Neal were visiting Fannie, they asked if Ruth and Idgie were lesbians. She explained to them that she wanted the movie to have wide appeal. She wanted each viewer to interpret the relationship between Ruth and Idgie. It was a wise and beautiful gift she gave us, to leave it up to us to decide. There was more than once secret in that sauce.

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