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Cliff--gay or straight? 
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Chorus Member
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Post Cliff--gay or straight?
In the various versions of this show (short stories, non-musical play, non-musical movie, 1966 stage show, movie, 1987 revival, 1998 revival) the character based on Christopher Isherwood has been variously straight, bi, or gay.

I can see why they'd go the bi/gay route since Isherwood himself was gay. But could you make a case that the story works a little better with Cliff a straight man?

Hear me out. One of the tragedies of the story is supposed to be that Sally, in her self-deception, rejects a life with Cliff in order to stay in Berlin to pursue a non-existent career, and that she'll most likely end up drinking or drugging herself to death like her friend Elsie.

Now, if Cliff is gay, the life she rejects probably wouldn't have lasted anyway. They even acknowledge this in the movie ("How long would it be before you... [can't go on living the heterosexual life?]") and in the revival ("I'd run off with the first exciting thing...or you would." "I wouldn't run away...not with a baby to..." "Hold us together? Isn't that a terrible burden for a little infant?"). Therefore, it doesn't seem like Sally is really giving up all that much. It almost makes her choice look noble, not self-deluded or self-destructive.

But if Cliff is straight, then Sally is giving up what could be a real chance at a lasting love and a happy life. Which makes her choice that much more tragic. Instead of taking a chance that such a life might hold fulfillment for her, she decides to waste her life on a career that will never move beyond a third-rate dive.

So...what do you think?

For out of what we live and we believe...
Our lives become the stories that we weave.
-- "Once On This Island"

Fri May 01, 2009 7:21 am
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Young Hoofer
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I think, and this I believe comes out in the dialogue (at least in the 1987 script) that he's primarily gay, but truly is in love with Sally. Possibly the only woman he's ever loved or will be in love with. Which also makes her leaving him tragic, I think.

But perhaps I'm merely putting my own experiences on the character, who knows?

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Professor Weiss/Ensemble-Baby
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Mon May 04, 2009 8:40 pm
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Fresh Face
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I think the line in the scene where Sally asks Cliff if she can stay with him pretty much clears this discussion up..

"It's not the sort of thing you go around advertising"

Maybe it's just me, but I thought it was very obvious from this line that Cliff is gay.

"We can''t all come and go by BUBBLE!"

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Fri May 15, 2009 11:53 am
Fresh Face
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Well obviously in the '98 revival he is Bisexual. I think he just has gay tendencies

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Previous Roles:
Danny in Grease
The Emcee in Cabaret
Sparky in Forever Plaid
Sister Amnesia in Nunsense A-Men
Mr. Warbucks in Annie
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Sun Aug 16, 2009 11:42 am
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Post Re: Cliff--gay or straight?
He can easily be played either way, but since I prefer "Don't Go" to "Why Should I Wake Up", I would have him as Gay. That said people's sexuality isn't a solid thing, but rather fluid. It's very common for people who are straight to be attracted to some one who is of the same gender, but only that person or a couple of people. The same thing can happen with people who would call themselves gay, in fact Stephen Fry has recounted the story how he nearly asked his female make up artist, who he genuinely had feelings for, out but didn't go through with it because Rown Atkinson also wanted to be with her. It's completely possible that Cliff, being Gay, is genuinely in love with Sally, but she's the only woman he could have feelings about in that way.

Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:45 am
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Post Re: Cliff--gay or straight?
Dear Jennifer Lynn,

I think that Cliff is more than likely Bi, weather or not he knew about his orientation since childhood, because many people would argue that if you engage in sex with people of both genders, you are Bi.

Of course, given the loose, free-thinking atmousphere of 1930s Germany, Cliff might well just be experimentally curious.

I never actually thought of the quoted lines in the same way that you thought about them. I always assumed that if Sally had finished her line about the future, she would have said, "How long would it be walked out on me.", or something like that.

I think that your analysis of the musical is interesting, though. I guess that I always tend to focus more on questions like "Wha type of power does the Emcee have over Sally?", and "What is the true relationship between the Emcee and his favorite performer, Sally?"

Thank you in advance for your reply.

Till Next Time,
The Duchess of Mint
(The Original Lone Wolf)
OPINION: Mitt Romney is "that wicked plastic man!"

Wed Mar 14, 2012 11:47 pm
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