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Is James Bond Gay?

Over at The Guardian, novelist Charlie Higson asks you to choose whether A) James Bond has gone too woke; b) James Bond is a racist, sexist, imperialist dinosaur who has no place in the modern world; c) I’ve never given it much thought, really. I like the car chases, the nice locations and the stunts.

It’s Higson’s Hobson's choice. He’s asking readers to select from a misleadingly incomplete set of alternatives.

The truth about James Bond is both more and less complicated than Mr. Higson would have you believe.

James Bond Snowflake?

Bond butters Mr. Higson's bread; he's written five Young Bond novels and one adult 007 adventure.

The YA series charts Bond's Eton College education and his early experiences as a secret service agent. I've not read them, but...

Mr. Higson's adult Bond book – On His Majesty's Secret Servicewas not universally well-received. Critics slammed the author for portraying Bond as a "woke, libtard snowflake." Reflecting the modern day author’s political leanings and the Flemming estate's PC sensitivities.*

Mr. Higson's Guardian polemic is a preemptive strike against renewed ridicule, ahead of the paperback release of OHMSS. Considering the book’s plot – "my villain recruits a colourful bunch of contemporary disruptors: far-right, populist libertarians" – his strategy is not without reason.

As I'm on my Ridiculously Random Motorcycle Tour, I can't order a copy from Amazon to fact-check Mr. Higson's critics. But I'm intrigued by his defense of a far-right fighting British secret agent:

Bond doesn’t stop to think too deeply about these things. He simply does what he’s told. As Fleming said in an interview with Playboy magazine: “He’s a cipher, a blunt instrument in the hands of government.”
Intriguingly, he also said, in the same interview: “He’s certainly got little in the way of politics, but I should think what politics he has are just a little bit left of centre.”

So that's alright then! If Bond was born a "bit left of center," it’s only fair to put the British secret agent at odds with "right wing extremists."

Who threaten the aristocratic status quo – to which Bond personifies - more than, say, left-leaning extremists unwilling to DEI another day

"Liberated" Bond Girls

What of the accusation that Mr. Higson's modern Bond has lost his peripatetic sexual style?

I was even accused by some disgruntled keyboard warriors of “turning Bond gay” – despite the fact that, in my book, he sleeps with two women (not that any of them had actually read it).
They seemed to be scornful that Bond’s relationships in my book are “metrosexual” – modern, equal and relaxed. He has lost some of his old-school sense of sexual entitlement, which, while often done tongue in cheek in the past, doesn’t play so well nowadays.

Why would the two women Bond bedded read Mr. Higson's book?

Misplaced parenthesis aside, what's up with the dig that Bond had an “old school sense of entitlement" - a barely disguised euphemism for rapey patriarchy?

By Mr. Higson’s own admission Bond’s sexual style is not misogynistic.

In the novels, Fleming was arguing for sexual freedom and honesty, for taking women down from their pedestals, and admitting to mutual, animal desires.

In other words, Bond's bedmates were into it. Some of whom make the first move.

James Bond Gay Icon?

At the same time, Mr. Higson's perfectly willing to accommodate assertions that Bond - both old and new - is a gay icon, if not actually gay.

The fact is, there have always been certain stereotypical gay characteristics about Bond. His camp obsessiveness about food and drink, his encyclopedic knowledge of women’s perfume, his obsessions with what he, and others, wear.

Bond-as-peacock has certainly enriched The Flemming estate's fortunes. His fastidiously groomed image has sold thousands of OMEGA "special edition" watches (not to mention launching a thousand stirring articles about vodka martinis and proper tailoring).

Mr. Higson turns to David Lowbridge-Ellis' Licence to Queer website to verify the PC perspective on Bond's “metrosexual” proclivities.

“Although he’s sometimes viewed as an establishment figure, Bond is an outsider. He doesn’t fit in. Queer people can certainly relate. And he appeals to a lot of queer people because he represents an alternative life story to one offered by our heteronormative society. We don’t imagine him settling down with someone of the opposite sex to raise kids any time soon."

Yeah, no.

Bond is popular with the LGBTQ+ community because he's sexy. That's it. That's the reason. There are no scenes where Bond displays anything other than "heteronormative" behavior.

I hate to say it, but seeing Bond as a closeted gay is nothing more than wishful thinking.

As for 007's fastidious peccadilloes, they're upper class English affectations. Whether or not they're "manly," and in what sense, is besides the point. Unless the point is that Fleming considered a "real man" to be both violent and civilized.

My Beef with Bond

As a hormonal teen, James Bond taught me that if a man was handsome, intelligent, witty, athletic, debonair, successful and cultured enough, women would fall at his feet. To their knees? Into his bed? Like that.

It took me years to realize that a failure to seduce wasn't necessarily an indication that I was a failure. That it wasn't all about me.

The fact that a fictional character could have that kind of impact on a young man’s admittedly fragile self-esteem (thanks Mom) is a testimony to Ian Flemming's ability to create a fully-fledged if cartoonish character, representing the “best” of Britain.

A country whose economic, military and cultural power is in steep some say terminal decline. Rendering James Bond as a "rule Britannia" rep saving the world for monarchy is ridiculous.

If Mr. Higson wants to re-imagine James Bond for our time, I say bring it on!

Provided the author portrays the "new" Bond as a man fighting to maintain civility, decency and yes, manliness in a country, in a world where Western corporations and governments conspire to impose socialist conformity on us all.

As if.

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*The Bond kerfuffle follows the Flemming estate's 2023 announcement that they "looked at the instances of several racial terms across the books and removed a number of individual words or else swapped them for terms that are more accepted today but in keeping with the period in which the books were written."

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Chris Parnin
Chris Parnin
Jun 12

Cillian Murphy and the guy from Chernobyl both made a good run at the best movie portrayal of a nuclear physicist, but I think that bar has been set impossibly high.


Jun 07

"As I'm on my Ridiculously Random Motorcycle Tour, I can't order a copy from Amazon to fact-check Mr. Higson's critics."

Au contraire, Mr. Bond.

My Amazon Kindle is my most prized piece of gear on motorcycle trips. At my advanced age, I can only spend a limited number of hours in the saddle and need more frequent breaks. Reading good novels while sitting at a park bench or in a cozy hotel room is a major part of my trips these days. The Kindle is the perfect reading device for me. It takes up little space, it runs for days on a charge, downloads books via hotel or restaurant wi-fi, and it's cheap to replace if lost. In my op…


Jun 07

Another way to see the this as one last gasp of a dying empire. No longer did the sun never set on the British Empire. The books and later the movies was an attempt to keep the image alive. How better then an impeccably tailored Sean Connery defeating evil doers to save the world for another day, all done in the name of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Plus like you said sakes of Omega watches and have you see what DB-3’s are bringing at Barrett Jackson and Mecum and the ones they have do not even have machine guns behind the parking lights…. Plus even today we have some un-named automotive journalist still making annual trips to London to have…

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