Natalie (2003) expresses a view that many modern readers have stated:
In the story, it says that Homer likes men. The fact that he stayed with Miss Emily is because he was a traveling construction worker and he needed a place to stay, and Miss Emily was lonely, so she was glad to have him stay with her. She made the mistake of falling in love, which brought out her insane side to keep her loved one. It never says in the story that Emily and Homer had a physical relationship. The only reference to them in the bed is when they found Emily's hair beside his dead body, which may mean that they did not have sex until after he was dead. Gross! Maybe she needed some and he was gay, so she killed him to sleep with him.
What do you say?
John (1998) argues that Homer's being a homosexual would increase the irony and conflict of the story, in keeping with Faulkner's theme. He is refuting an earlier posting that denied Homer was homosexual--
|I believe you may be incorrect in your assessment that Homer is not homosexual. He does remark that he liked men. And, other townspeople, after hearing of this fact, said that Emily "would persuade him yet." However, the most compelling reason in support of his homosexuality lies in one of your own arguments. You mention that sexuality was not a major issue in writing during Faulkner's time (I disagree). However, you bring to light a very important point. Faulkner is most definitely writing a story about "old vs. new" here. Everything from her tired old house being encroached upon by the newer buildings, to the postal company trying to put a mailbox up, to the men trying to get her to pay taxes speaks of this motif. One additional point that I feel Faulkner is making is the "new," more liberal thinking of the modern generation. What better way to illustrate this than by bringing a Northerner, a homosexual no less, into the story? This is just another way that Faulkner illustrates his point of "old vs. new." Homer Barron is homosexual, and his presence in the novel is in sharp contrast with the traditional, conservative values in the story (symbolized by Emily). The fact that they are supposed to be "courting" just further illustrates Faulkner's juxtaposition of "old vs. new."|
Christy (2003) explains what the claim means that Homer "liked the company of men": "Homer was not gay. When Faulkner says 'he liked men' it did not mean he was gay. He was the type of man who liked to go out and have drink with the guys. He was not the marrying type, but we should not assume this means he is gay."
Erica (2003; KCKCC) maintains that Homer was not gay: "I would have to say that I don't think that Homer was gay. Men like to drink and hang out with other men, women like to shop and party with other women, that doesn't make them gay. That will make them friends."
Jules (2003) claims Homer was gay: "Homer was gay - people just have to live with it. He liked to hang out with young guys more than a classy southern belle, he was probably attracted to her masculine resoluteness, she cut her hair in order to look more boyish to please him (think of the angels of gay Caravaggio), she is described with 'the hair of an active man' and Homer was going to break up with her because he wasn't attracted to her."
"Dr. B." replies (2001) regarding the context of Homer's preferring the company of men: "In my interpretation of the text, I don't think that Homer was gay. Besides the one ambiguous line that 'he liked men' there is little evidence in the text that would support that reading. In fact, his relationship with Emily is scandalous in their community because it was romantic in nature. And keep in mind the exact sentence in question here.
"Then we said, 'she will persuade him yet,' because Homer himself had remarked-- he liked men, and it was known that he drank with the younger men in the Elks' Club-- that he was not a marrying man." I think the main point here is that (1) Homer is not a marrying man; and (2) their community figured that despite that, Emily would be able to convince him to marry her. The part about younger men at the Elks' Club simply supports his unwillingness to marry-- not because of homosexuality but because he lived the life of a working-class, independent bachelor."
Malina M. (2004) of Donnelly College adds that Homer just liked to hang out with the guys (not necessarily the gays): "The remark about Homer's sexuality should not be taken literally. Considering the time period, you'd realize that then men were more friendly with other men. They spent their time with other men and sometimes enjoyed it more so than a woman's company."
Mistie (2004) urges readers to consider the reference to Homer's "yellow gloves" as a cultural symbol of homosexuality for the era. TW confirms the yellow gloves symbol based on "research" but doesn't site a source.
Kaitlin (2004) of Donnelly College accepts the notion that Homer was gay and wonders how that knowledge affected Emily: "After completing the story, I was completely under the impression that Homer's questionable comments simply alluded to the fact that he wasn't ready to settle down and may not ever find himself in the position to do so. However, after taking the advice from another student, I looked a bit further into symbolism and realized that what I had taken as a form of reference from a different time period was truly a reference to Homer's sexuality. With that in mind, it poses an interesting question of whether or not this was a known fact to Emily, and if so, why she expected so much from the relationship when she knew she wasn't his point of interest in a romantic respect."