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Judy Garland gave one of her best performances in… an animated musical about a gay cat in Paris?

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Welcome back to our queer film retrospective, “A Gay Old Time.” In this week’s column, we revisit Gay Purr-ee, an oft-forgotten animated musical featuring the voice of the original gay icon, Judy Garland.As we have discussed many times before in this column, queer content and representation on films in the early part of last century was often sparse, hidden, or coded.

We’ve had to dig for hinted-at relationships and character backstories, read into the mannerisms of the villains and sidekicks, and find resonance in themes rather than in explicit stories.

Almost all of this representation (coded or otherwise) happened in adult, live-action films. So this week we decided to ask, had there been any traces of queer themes in an animated movie from that era?It’s not until quite recently (in the last decade or so) that mainstream animated family movies have started being overt about including LGBTQ+ characters and storylines, even if they often feel like scraps or second-rate moments that can easily be edited out for foreign markets.

These are your “exclusively gay Disney moments,” your blink-and-you-miss-it lesbian mothers in the background, your mention of a same-sex partner that is said almost under the breath.

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