“It’s why I quit. It’s the worst thing on Earth to hide who you are.”
May 30, 2018 3:39 PM   Subscribe

"Though it was never explicitly stated, historians and players alike say the rules were in place, in part, to prevent the women from being perceived as lesbians. Many of the women actually were gay, including D’Angelo, which is another part of the story the movie didn’t tell. By not including a gay character’s story in “A League of Their Own,” the film does to the history of the league what the owners tried to do its existence — erase lesbians from the narrative."

A League of Their Own previously
posted by palindromic (20 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
 
I always wondered what happened to Ila Borders.

My reaction to learning the answer is complicated, so I'll leave it there, for now anyway.
posted by hoyland at 4:06 PM on May 30, 2018


In another case, a married player was rumored to have fallen for one of her teammates. “That player converted this young married woman in just two weeks,” said Fred Leo, who was the League’s publicity director and, later, its president.

That player right there is an All Star for sure. It usually takes at least three or four.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:34 PM on May 30, 2018 [46 favorites]


Thank you for posting this!
posted by mustard seeds at 8:04 PM on May 30, 2018


This seems like a good place to mention awesome person Rhea Butcher's baseball podcast Three Swings - they posted a link today to the episode that discusses a 2016 A League of Their Own reunion game that featured a former AAGPBL player.
posted by mustard seeds at 8:16 PM on May 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


Not only do I want to rewatch A League of Their Own now, I'm thinking that this might be a great opportunity for Netflix to do a more in-depth and inclusive miniseries remake.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:20 PM on May 30, 2018 [26 favorites]


I love that movie. I’m actually surprised there wasn’t at least an oblique reference to lesbians but maybe that would have been worse. Wink and a scandal BS, or something. This was a good piece!
posted by amanda at 8:24 PM on May 30, 2018


I think when the movie was made, lesbians were still a bit scandalous and it wouldn't have played well (with the powers that be, at least) to imply lesbians existed without having a Sad Story of the girl who had to leave after hitting on the wrong person or the couple who had to leave, and that probably would've changed the tone of the movie substantially.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:23 AM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Was Rosie O’Donnel out then? I think Kit was maybe one allusion and so was Rosie. But I agree, Netflix could definitely do a special.
posted by amanda at 6:04 AM on May 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


> By not including a gay character’s story in “A League of Their Own,” yt the film does to the history of the league what the owners tried to do its existence — erase lesbians from the narrative."

True if the film had been a documentary. 'Based on a true story' means entertainment, not a history lesson. That said, I'd like to see the Netflix version mentioned above.
posted by Homer42 at 6:13 AM on May 31, 2018


True if the film had been a documentary. 'Based on a true story' means entertainment, not a history lesson. That said, I'd like to see the Netflix version mentioned above.
As a lesbian, I just wanted to say thanks for this reminder that our existence is only relevant or acceptable in the context of "a documentary" or "a history lesson", and that including queer representation would make a film inherently less entertaining.
posted by reseeded at 6:46 AM on May 31, 2018 [86 favorites]


wish I could fave your comment more, reseeded
posted by nogoodverybad at 7:16 AM on May 31, 2018 [8 favorites]


"True if the film had been a documentary. 'Based on a true story' means entertainment, not a history lesson. That said, I'd like to see the Netflix version mentioned above."

Just because the movie isn't a documentary doesn't mean they aren't cutting that aspect of the true story out of the entertainment version. They're still being deliberately excluded. That's so far from any kind of excuse or reason I'm not sure why you even said it to begin with.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:42 AM on May 31, 2018 [7 favorites]


Homer42, I'm pretty sure that if you base your movie on a true story, and then leave out of your film those who were marginalized and made to pretend they were not themselves, then you really have indeed erased those folks from the narrative.

Even entertainment should take care not double down on oppression, I think.
posted by allthinky at 7:44 AM on May 31, 2018 [8 favorites]


amanda - I don't think Rosie O'Donnell publicly came out until about 10 years after the film was made.
posted by rmd1023 at 7:44 AM on May 31, 2018




I think (I hope) if it were being made today–even just for entertainment value–it would definitely include the fact that there were lesbians who played in that league. I mean, when you read the article and these women met at the league and then were together until the end of their lives.... It just takes your breath away.
posted by amanda at 10:29 AM on May 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


I always wondered what happened to Ila Borders.

I was there for other reasons, but I remember seeing Ila pitch for St Paul, back in the 90's, and while it's fashionable these days to look back on that ancient era as prehistorically misogynistic, I have a very vivid memory of a long, and sustained, standing ovation when she was called in from the bullpen, and not a hint of a sexist shout, even when she gave up a couple of hits and a run shortly thereafter.

I choose to remember this as: even way back then, a colosseum full of drunken sports fans (of all people) could actually be human.
posted by rokusan at 11:48 AM on May 31, 2018 [3 favorites]


[Comment removed, we're really really not gonna go further down this whole "systemic erasure of underrepresented people is just *shrug* business" line or argument. Let it drop.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:08 PM on May 31, 2018 [7 favorites]


From the description of the Amazon series:
The show will begin with the formation of the league in 1943 and follows the Rockford Peaches, season to season as they struggle to keep the team alive through close games, injuries, late night bar crawls, sexual awakenings, not crying and road trips across a rapidly changing United States.
[emphasis mine]
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:25 PM on May 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you're interested in what Ila Borders has been doing, she wrote about her life in a 2017 book, which sparked some articles and interviews with her. (Few of which mention being queer, I notice now. Searching for "lesbian" I ran across a contempory article about her time playing.). She's recently working as a firefighter in Oregon (Facebook), after some very hard times.
By 2007, Borders was ready to develop the book, but her partner was killed by a drunk driver in 2008, and Borders had to process the death of a long-term love, while concurrently grappling with the fact that she had never openly acknowledged she was a lesbian. The weight of it all sent Borders into a downward spiral.

"I don't remember conversations, or really anything, for six years," Borders said.
posted by away for regrooving at 2:43 AM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


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