I love John Hughes movies, but I’ve always been more of a Sixteen Candles or Breakfast Club girl than a diehard Pretty in Pink fan. That said, it’s a film that I both own and have seen countless times on TV. But never in all my years of watching have I ever stopped to wonder about whether or not Duckie, Andie’s angsty, Otis Redding crooning, bicycle riding BFF (who, now that I do think about it, was an obvious predecessor to My So-Called Life’s Brian Krakow), was gay. According to Molly Ringwald, he was one of the many gay characters who Hughes included in his work — even if it wasn’t something that the two ever discussed directly.
As she recently told Out magazine: “Duckie doesn’t know he’s gay. I think he loves Andie in the way that [my gay best friend] always loved me. That [original ending, which had them together] fell so flat — it bombed at all the screenings. I didn’t realize it then — I just knew that my character shouldn’t end up with him, because we didn’t have that sort of chemistry. If John was here now, and I could talk to him, I think that he would completely acknowledge that.”
Interestingly the Jon who is here now — Jon Cryer — says that he “respectfully disagrees” with Ringwald’s take on things. “I want to stand up for all the slightly effeminate dorks that are actually heterosexual,” he told Zap2it. “Just cause the gaydar is going off, doesn’t mean your instruments aren’t faulty. I’ve had to live with that, and that’s okay.”
Yes, it’s silly to debate a fictional character’s sexuality, especially when it’s not even the first time that you’re publicly doing so, and the only person who could really settle things is no longer alive. And yet, I can’t help but be intrigued by the idea that Hughes intentionally included closeted gay characters in his movies — until now, the frequent use of the word “fag” in his oeuvre was the only real indicator I had that homosexuality even crossed his mind. While that kind of casual homophobia was certainly more prevalent in the ’80s, it doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence in what Ringwald is saying. But it is tempting to think about, right? What if Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Brian in The Breakfast Club were actually intended to be gay? It would be kind of nice to know that Hughes’ vision of teen life as told from the outsider’s perspective was a bit more inclusive than most of us previously realized.