Indiana Jones’ lovesick students gaze at him during his lecture in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” (Image copyright Paramount Pictures 1989)
Well, it’s the last day of Pride Month and Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny is due out in theaters today.
So I want to talk about the gay students in Indiana Jones’ classroom.
The trope of Indiana Jones movies is that Indiana Jones is an archeology professor. He is an absolute snack in glasses so of course all the female students in his classes love him. They don’t care about archeology, they just want to be the next Mrs. Indiana Jones.
Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Image copyright Paramount Pictures 1981)
Women, amiright? Yeah, Hollywood in the 80s really got our number!
Okay, my next bitter feminist diatribe will have to wait. Right now I want to talk about how it wasn’t just the women students who were jonesing for Indiana.
Let’s talk about the gay students in Professor Indiana Jones’s classroom.
Being gay in the 30s (when the Indiana Jones movies take place) was obviously a horror show. Being gay in the 80s (when the Indiana Jones movies were actually made) wasn’t much of a picnic either but at least people could leave some obvious bread crumbs without being killed.
A few people have talked about Raiders of the Lost Ark and how in the classroom scene at the beginning of the film a male student leaves Professor Jones an apple. The film shows how Jones’ female students love and adore him and even sexually harass him, writing flirty messages on their eyelids while he tries to lecture.
Jones’ male students appear to regard Jones as just another professor assigning them homework, (and distracting their girlfriends).
Towards the end of the classroom scene we see all the students leave the classroom. One student, a man, lags behind the rest. He walks by Jones’ desk, leaves an apple, and leaves.
The young man appears sullen, even angry, as he leaves the apple on Jones’ desk.
A young man leaves an apple on Professor Jones’ desk while avoiding eye contact in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (Image copyright Paramount Pictures 1981)
When I first saw that scene at the age of twelve, I always assumed that the guy was failing Professor Jones’ class and that’s why he put the apple there. He was angry about failing and was trying to butter up Jones.
After reading a few articles about gay “breadcrumbing” in Hollywood films, I can see why a lot of people think the student leaving the apple on Jones’ desk was gay. I remember one gay cartoonist at the “Queers and Comics” convention in 2019 saying that an indication that a girl may be trying to date you and not just want to be your friend is if she gives you little gifts. “Friends hang out. They don’t give you little presents. People who want to date you give you little presents.”
Maybe that kid who gave Professor Jones the apple was gay. He did stay behind after the other students left, as if he wanted to talk to Jones privately. When Marcus Brody entered the classroom to talk to Jones, the student realized he wasn’t going to have a private moment. So he angrily left the apple on Jones’ desk, feeling like an idiot, and left without making eye contact with either man.
(Image copyright Paramount Pictures 1981)
And neither man even notices him. Brody just picks up the apple meant for Jones, shines it, and eats it.
Was that student just a guy who was trying to butter up Jones so he could pass Jones’ class? Or was the student a gay crush? Who knows.
Less subtle, however, is a similar scene in the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Like Raiders of the Last Ark, we get a scene at the beginning of the film where Professor Jones tries to give a lecture while surrounded by romantically crushed-out females. They all give Jones the same doe-eyed stare while leaning their heads against their hands in that 20th-century Hollywood visual cue of “I’m in love.”
Except it’s not just women giving Professor Jones that stare.
(Image copyright Paramount Pictures 1989)
There’s a guy there who is ALSO clearly crushed out on Jones. We see a male student, same adoring gaze as the women, same head-resting-on-hand “I’m in love” Hollywood visual cue as the women, looking at Professor Jones. And it’s pretty clear this dude isn’t a straight guy who just likes archeology.
That was a gay student. And yeah, because it’s 1989 we don’t see much of that student beyond a quick shot. Blink and you miss it. Still, even in that brief shot, we see the student as basically a regular guy who happens to have a crush on Professor Jones. He’s not portrayed as stereotypically effeminate or perverted or sick or weird.
He’s just a guy. Who’s a student. And gay. NBD.
So yeah, during this last day of Pride Month with the new Indiana Jones movie arriving in theaters, I wanted to give that character a shout-out. Cheers to you my friend! Love without fear and melt some Nazis.
There’s no better way to live.