The straight dope about lesbianism in the film Fried Green Tomatoes

Has Fanny fessed to having a relative who inspired her Idgie character, and who’s sexuality was somewhat less ambiguous than what is portrayed in the film. That is my recollection of Rita Mae Brown’s version of the “truth behind FGT” as told in her autobiography, Rita Will.

So what’s the latest?

If you read the book, it’s made very clear that they’re lesbians.

I think they purposely left the movie ambiguous so that people could interpret it any way they wanted to. I remember when it came out, I was convinced they were just close friends. (Hey, I was very young and very innocent.) My Mom saw it and immediately went with the lesbian interpretation, and I was aghast.

Rewatched it a few years later, and couldn’t believe I’d missed it the first time.

What I’ve always wondered, though, is about the way all the other people in this very small southern town in the “olden days” seemed to just accept Ruth and Idgie’s relationship like it was no big deal. This couldn’t possibly be accurate, could it? That seems like an environment that would be extremely prejudiced against gay people. Maybe the author was just writing the way she wished it was, instead of how it actually was?

I’ve definitely read the book, and the lesbianism is indeed much more obvious there, but that is, I think, secondary to what is thought to have been familial pressure for Fanny Flagg to claim the novel as fiction and not biographical of members of her family, including pressure to downplay it in the film adaptation.

I’m so behind the times. Apparently (wikipedia) it is now well known that the entire community accepted Fannie’s aunt and her “friend”.

The town accepted it because Ruth &, especially, Idgie were theirs. Small southern towns used to be pretty accepting that way (see Florence King).

The movie is much more ambiguous than the book. In the book, the relationship between the two women was subtle (no overt sex) but obvious. There is one particularly telling scene just after Idgie had brought the pregnant Ruth home to her parents. Idgie’s father gives her the cafe, telling her, “Now you have a family to support.”

In the small-town rural South, I think people were very accepting of quirks of the residents, because they were still a part of the community. And considering that in many small towns, people are very inter-related. These are kin, they aren’t just Joe Blow off the street. As long as nothing was overt, they didn’t have to think about what went on in the bedroom. In fact, it was probably seen as a good thing if you were single to have a female “roommate”, if you didn’t live at home.


There are people shocked at the thought of Liberace being gay. Or Seigfreid & Roy. There was a great line from the show Designing Women I’ve never been able to find that summed it up well. My recollection of the phrase “In the south, we don’t ship off our crazy people or lock 'em in the attics, we keep 'em around so everyone can enjoy them.”

Really, SDMBers only need to look at a few of Sampiros’ family posts to realize exactly how out-there someone in the south can be and still function in society quite well.

In our family, we call it “Our Momma may be crazy, but she’s our Momma and we are the ones that have to deal with her.”