Is The Great Gatsby an LGBTQ Narrative?

A critical examination of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, reveals several subtle indications of queer themes and characters that can be read as being part of the LGBTQ+ community. This guide explores these possible interpretations.

Nick Carraway: A Queer Character?

The strongest indications of LGBTQ+ subtext revolve around the novel’s narrator, Nick Carraway. Multiple instances in the book suggest homoerotic undertones in Nick’s descriptions of male characters, hinting at his possible sexual ambiguity.

  • Nick’s attraction towards male characters: His detailed and seemingly admiring descriptions of other men, particularly Tom Buchanan, are often perceived as subtly homoerotic. An example of this is his detailed depiction of Tom Buchanan’s physique.
  • Comparison with female characters: The comparatively dry and less enthusiastic descriptions of female characters, as opposed to male characters, suggest that Nick might be more sexually inclined towards men.
  • The elevator scene: One of the most discussed scenes in the novel is the elevator scene with Mr. McKee, which is often interpreted as an implicit representation of a sexual encounter between two men.
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A Queer Reading of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan

Other characters and their dynamics also invite a queer reading. Notably, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan’s relationship serves as a centerpiece for exploring this theme.

  • Gatsby’s devotion to Daisy: Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy is reflective of his longing for an idealized identity – a common narrative in queer literature.
  • Daisy as a façade: Daisy could also be read as a symbol of socially accepted norms that Gatsby strives for, while his queer desire is projected onto other characters, primarily Nick.

Jordan Baker: A Break from Gender Norms

Jordan Baker, an independent woman and a professional golfer, goes against the conventions and expectations of her time, signifying the possibility of a gender non-conforming persona.

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Role of Queer Themes in the Narrative

The suggested queer themes, characters, and relationships greatly contribute to the depth and understanding of the novel’s central themes.

  • Depicting societal norms: The possible LGBTQ+ undertones provide a critique of the societal conventions and heteronormative expectations of the 1920s era.
  • Enhancing character complexity: By suggesting sexual ambiguity and queer desire, the characters become more complex and their motivations multidimensional.
  • Serving as a metaphor: Queer themes could also serve as a metaphor for the broader themes of illusion, dissatisfaction, and unattainable dreams.


Although The Great Gatsby is not explicitly an LGBTQ+ novel, careful analysis uncovers suggestions of queer themes and interpretations. These perspectives not only add layers to the characters and their motives but also reinforce the novel’s critical take on societal norms and the pursuit of the American dream. Nonetheless, it remains essential to consider these readings as interpretations based on textual analysis, subjectivity of perspectives, and evolution of societal understandings of LGBTQ+ identities.

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