Molly Ringwald: Pretty in Print

Former teen queen and first-time author Molly Ringwald marvels at the abundance of gay characters in her life and the absence of gay characters in her movies.



MOLLY RINGWALD 2 X390 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COMTell me about the humorous “Vote No on Prop. 8” video that you and your husband filmed in 2008.
My friend Matt knew somebody that was doing it and wanted me to be a part of it, so of course I said I would. It was important to me to do because it seems absolutely crazy that people who love each other can’t marry. It’s unfair the way the whole Prop. 8 thing went down — the act of voting no on something instead of yes was confusing, and it felt like a train wreck from the very beginning. Right now it’s frustrating, but years from now it’s going to seem crazy, like, “Oh, my God, we had slavery? We thought it was OK to enslave people?” Matt and Greg, the godparents of my children, have a relationship and a marriage that most people could only aspire to have.

Have you always been conscious of your gay fan base?
Since most my friends are gay, it would be hard not to be aware of it now, but I don’t think I realized it early on in my career because I don’t know that I definitely had that fan base until later. I became pretty aware of it in the ’90s, after some time had passed, and especially when I was living in New York and doing a lot of theater.

Like when you starred on Broadway as Sally Bowles in Cabaret in 2002 opposite Raúl Esparza, John Stamos, and Neil Patrick Harris as the Masters of Ceremonies. Two of the three came out after that show, so your track record’s pretty good.
[Laughs] That’s true!

The gay community might’ve identified with the general outcast characters in your John Hughes films, but why do you think there was no gay representation?
Maybe it was just too soon and too controversial at the time, but from what I understand, John was a big Republican. I really didn’t know this back then, and maybe he wasn’t when I was working with him, but I guess he became one. Not to say that all Republicans are antigay, but historically, you know, that has to rub off a little bit, right?

Though there were no gay characters, homosexuality was addressed in those early films through the frequent use of the word “fag.” Your character, Samantha, called Anthony Michael Hall’s Geek a “fag” in Sixteen Candles. “You die, fag” is scrawled on Bender’s locker in The Breakfast Club. And though it’s never spelled out, some of those outcast characters I mentioned — Duckie in Pretty in Pink, Brian in The Breakfast Club — almost seem like gay characters, in a way.
Yeah, completely! I totally know what you mean, and if those films were done today, those characters probably would’ve been gay. But sometimes I wonder if John was even aware of that. I don’t know that he was. What made those movies so interesting and so hard for people to replicate is that for some reason John was still somehow emotionally in the mind-set of those teenagers. Usually you can hear when an adult clearly wrote something for a kid character, but John’s movies don’t sound like that because he was still emotionally in that place. So you know how some kids can be gay and not know it? Or maybe they kind of know it but aren’t facing it? I feel like maybe John was writing those characters like that.

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