PRINT April 1992


The Story That Won't Go Away

A friend of mine told me she didn’t find JFK particularly homophobic—its several gay men, after all, are not confined to the usual stereotypes. Consider how the imprisoned gay hustler Willie O’Keefe describes businessman Clay Shaw (Tommy Lee Jones) to Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner), the New Orleans district attorney who will try Shaw unsuccessfully for conspiracy to kill President Kennedy: “He’s not one of those limp-wrists,” instructs O’Keefe, “he’s a butch John.”

Were the even more “straight-acting” O’Keefe not referring to a trick he’d once turned, he might have described Shaw more accurately as a butch queen. Shaw exudes Southern gentility. He has a taste for champagne, and for smoking cigarettes, stylishly, in holders. He also peppers his prose with French derivatives like “badinage.” When not in the company of anti-Castro Cubans (who apparently have no qualms about mingling with maricones

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