Early this year, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby entered the public domain, opening doors for creators of all kinds to reimagine and reinvent the 1925 novel without fear of copyright infringement. For those somehow unfamiliar (or who slept through their sophomore English class), The Great Gatsby is a story set on Long Island in 1922.
It follows Yale grad and notoriously unreliable narrator Nick Carraway, who becomes fascinated with the wild, opulent life of socialite Jay Gatsby — and his high-class associates. While no one in the novel is openly gay, many readers have viewed the text through a queer lens.
Local storyboard artist Robin Lamoreaux, 19, is one such reader. “Nick is one of these not-like-other-rich-boys as a person,” Lamoreaux says, “but he really is no different from them, and he lies to get people to like him. And the reason I like queer [interpretations of] Nick is because he thinks he’s different from his peers because he genuinely feels ostracized from society, due to a part of his identity that he can’t name. And he lies to protect himself. While both interpretations are perfectly valid, I personally find the [queer] interpretation much more interesting.”
Lamoreaux was hoping a movie adaptation they saw would take the story in that direction, but like so many queer people looking for mainstream media representation, they were disappointed. “And so I thought, ‘Man, I hope somebody makes that,’ and then, you know, ‘I can make that!’”
Lamoreaux has officially launched a project that has been stewing in their mind since they first read this book when they were 16 years old. The concept: An unapologetically and openly queer take on The Great Gatsby — in the form of an animated musical.
I have two words for that: YES and PLEASE.
The internet will tell you that Truman Capote once wrote a rejected, gay screenplay for The Great Gatsby, but unfortunately it doesn’t go as far as to make Nick, or anyone, canonically LGBTQ. One blogger at The Niche clarifies it perfectly: “...this screenplay is gay in the sense that Capote was a gay writer and inflected his gay aesthetic and political subject positions onto the story, but on the surface level of the text this screenplay is no more gay than the original novel.”
(It’s still amazing and worth reading. Check it out here.)
Depictions of Nick as an openly gay, trans or otherwise queer man are typically relegated to fanfiction, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
“In this project,” Lamoreaux says, “Nick is going to be canonically queer. So, that’s going to be canon, other than just subtext and coding. … I believe that representation is
really important because it normalizes minority voices, and it also really encourages inclusivity and the end of othering of other people.”
Lamoreaux is nonbinary, gay and neurodivergent themself, and will bring those experiences to bear in this story. But they won’t be doing it alone.
Their goal is to track down a talented team of animators, voice actors, composers and other storyboard artists to bring this to life as a web series geared for teens and young adults. They’ve even got a Kickstarter going, hoping to raise money to pay everyone adequately for their work.
Lamoreaux has already identified some members of the team: A background artist they met while working on an in-progress pilot episode for a show called Crystal Clear, voice actors they met locally at Inside Out Youth Services, and other creators they found online.
“For this project, I want to make the representation that closeted 16-year-old me really would have wanted at the time when this was conceptualized,” Lamoreaux says. “One of my goals is to get into the animation industry, and I’ve always wanted to make my own show ever since I wanted to get into storyboarding. And I feel like this is a really good way to do that.”