When Eternity’s Too Gay


Kaylie Jones, daughter of James Jones who penned From Here to Eternity, revealed in an interview with The Daily Beast that her father was forced to remove gay sex scenes from his original manuscript prior to publication.

Jones had originally included discussions and details about sexual favors and relationships between male soldiers, which were deemed too “salacious” for the American public. Alison Flood examines Kaylie Jones’s disclosure of her father’s original manuscript in her article for The Guardian.

Jones’s book served as the basis of the popular film From Here to Eternity, which won eight Oscars in 1953 and featured Burt Lancaster, Deborah Karr, and Frank Sinatra delivering searing performances of characters suspended in a trellis of passion, valiance, and brutality at an army base just before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The book won the National Book Award upon publication, and it is remembered as a merciless account of army politics and barbarities, romances and betrayals.

Yet even as Jones’s publisher, Scribner’s, allowed him to expose some of the shadows behind men dedicated to the army, Jones was told to cut the scenes that depicted or alluded to homosexuality.  Jones initially refused to remove them, saying: “the things we change in this book for propriety’s sake will in five years, or 10 years, come in someone else’s book anyway.”

In The Daily Beast article, Kaylie states that Jones “believed also that homosexuality was a natural condition of men in close quarters, and that it in no way affected a soldier’s capabilities on the battlefield. What would have amazed him is that the discussion still continues to this day, cloaked in the same hypocrisy and silence as it was 60 years ago.”

Maddie Oatman has interviewed musicians and writers for The Rumpus. She's the research editor at Mother Jones, where she also writes. A Boulder transplant, she can often be found on her bike, skis, or cooking with vegetables, and she wrote her English thesis on a gay red-winged monster and Billy the Kid. Follow her on Twitter or read occasional musings on her blog Oats. More from this author →