The world resounded with a predictable Gol-ol-olllll-leeeee! at yesterday's news that Jim Nabors had gay-married his long-term partner, Stan Cadwallader.
Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle in both 1960s-era television series The Andy Griffith Show and its spin-off, Gomer Pyle, USMC (pre-Don't Ask Don't Tell, we guess), announced the two had been wed in Seattle last month, following Washington voters' approval of gay marriage in 2012.
"I'm 82 and he's in his 60s and so we've been together for 38 years and I'm not ashamed of people knowing; it's just that it was such a personal thing, I didn't tell anybody" Nabors eventually told AP. "I'm very happy that I've had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed. And, what can I tell you, I'm just very happy."
Yep, he's gay.
Nabors's sexual orientation was long an open secret in the LGBT community and among his straight(ish) friends like Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews. And if he wasn't gay, his character, surely Gomer Pyle was. After all, like that other irresistible Southern television icon, Honey Boo-Boo, says, "Everybody's got a little gay in 'em!"
Face it. Mayberry, Gomer's famed fictitious hometown, has a lot of gay in it. A lot. It boasts more unmarried men and women per capita than South Beach during White Party season.
In fact, Mayberry sets our gaydar to clang-clang-clang-ing like Judy Garland's proverbial trolley. Consider Gomer's (Nabor's) neighbors:
Andy Taylor. Single father of one son, widowed town sheriff in no apparent hurry to change marital status. Frequently accompanied by strong, sometimes domineering women; Daddy figure to fey men. (See Helen Crump, Ellie Walker, Barney Fife, Gomer Pyle, Howard Sprague.) Likely bisexual. Gaydar rating: 6.
Barney Fife. Single, deputy to Andy Taylor. In long-term-though-not-officially-defined-by-engagement relationship with girl friend Thelma Lou, until finally marrying years later in a made-for-TV reunion special. Frequently overcompensates for lack of masculinity with uniform fetish. Couldn't be gayer if he gay-married Andy and they adopted a little Vietnamese girl. Gaydar rating: 10.
Aunt Bea. Single. Sheriff Taylor's spinster aunt spent much of her spare time with BFF, Clara Edwards. Whether in friendly pickle-canning champion competition or getting toasted together on Harvey's Indian Elixir, the two were practically inseparable. Like Oprah and Gayle. When pressed about her lack of male companionship, Aunt Bea even concocted a beard romance with the butter and egg man. Gaydar rating: 8.
Helen Crump. Single; school teacher, in long-term-though-not-officially-defined-by-engagement relationship with Andy Taylor, Miss Crump was as close as television could get to a dominatrix in the 1960s. Likely bisexual, she had a lot of attitude and knew how to swing a ruler. Gaydar rating: 5.
Ellie Walker. Single; town pharmacist, which is pretty much all we know about her. And all female pharmacists are lesbians. Everyone knows that. Gaydar scale: 9. Thelma Lou. Single; occupation unknown. Hag to Barney's fag. Gaydar rating: 0, with a bullet--the one in Barney's pocket.
Howard Sprague. Single; Mayberry's County Clerk. The Andy Griffith Show likely switched to filming in color in later seasons to accommodate Howard's colorful character. Also a civil servant, Howard was gayer Mayberry's Harvey Milk; he even sometimes wore a cravat with his little mustache. If Alfred Hitchcock had directed an episode of the series, it would likely have featured the well-groomed, well-grammared bachelor stuffing and mounting his ball-busting mother (with whom he lived, of course.) Gaydar scale: 12.
Otis Campbell. Married; town drunk in seemingly loving relationship with wife. But the moonshine-swilling alcoholic preferred crashing on a cot near Barney to sleeping with her. What self-loathing sorrow was he trying to drown? With a little manscaping, he could have been a bear. Gaydar rating: 5.5.