Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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In the movie "Little Big Man" (don't remember if I read the book) the Cheyenne tribe that takes Jack in has this boy who would rather hang out with the mothers and--I don't know, grind maize--than learn to hunt with the boys.

When grown-up Jack returns from being with the white people, the little boy has grown into a full-fledged drag queen, and the tribe is comfortable with this. In fact, the man/woman has his own special place in the tribe.

Granted, this movie came out in the early 70's, when it was hip--and necessary--to question the people in charge of our country. So the whole thing has this sort of overtone of "White Man Bad, Native American Natural and Close to the Earth." Which always kinda smacked of "Noble Savage" to me.

Still, I remember a midtown Manhattan movie audience laughing when the man/woman tells the newly-single Jack, "You can come to my tent and I'll be your wife."


I did question whether all the info on the web was from the gay movement and therefore sort of idealized and glorified. Even if you take that spin off it, it seems to be genuinely anthropological.

Charlie (Colorado)

Don't worry, I'm sure they've got some explanation of why this doesn't matter. Just like the continuing notion that polygamy is unnatural and no polygamous society has been successful.

(Follow the link on my name, some of my YARGB colleges tried to pass this one off.)


Oh yes, the berdache is really interesting! Thanks for bringing up the historical precedent!


I actually first read about them way back in the early '60s and was fascinated then.

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