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!
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.