My feelings on this are that, uh, he did sleep with men--Jack Simmons, Rogers Brackett, William Bast, James Gilmore. And when asked about his sexuality by a reporter answered with, "I'm not going through life with one hand tied behind my back."
Also he was twenty-four when he died. I'm twenty-two and not all that sure on my sexuality, so I can certainly understand if Jimmy was confused and pressured about all that noise. The fifties wasn't much of a time to be queer, certainly not in the acting business. There was a lot of pressure to be straight for the cameras, no matter how bohemian you were during your time off or how many queer friends you had. And god knows we can't just let James Dean be questioning or be experimental or, god forbid, just be generally queer. No, we have to pin it down: he was gay, he was straight, he was bi.
It doesn't help that Dean was awfully good at picking and choosing who he divulged his feelings to. Martin Landau insists that his friend wasn't gay because they looked at girls together, but come on... we're not idiots. Dean was a smart guy who could easily have made wise decisions about who he wanted to share his feelings with. And Martin Landau, bless him and damn him, is a man who chose in 1958 to play gay in the second movie he was in: North by Northwest, as Leonard, and it's completely unambiguous. And he not only made the decision, he made the observation in the first place that his character came off as gay... then played him without resorting to camp. So you'd think he'd know better. But no, he says some things here that are just really disappointing. Although really it's the guy with the strong Southern accent that is the most ridiculous; dude, maybe you just weren't that hot. Interestingly, Landau's position on this seemed to soften somewhat a couple of years later on Larry King, when he sort of admitted that Dean might have been "experimental." I don't know. All I know is that they would have made a fucking adorable couple. Just look at Jimmy all sneaking up on him. Aww.
And if you think that implication is immature or silly, well, you're wrong. It's a defense, in a way, a method of using imagination to keep from feeling hurt or isolated. It's also the kind of selfish fantasy that would, apparently, be acceptable if one of them were a girl. But fuck that, there's nothing wrong with liking queer romance. And there's nothing wrong with it being more prevalent in some circles, which is what this argument fails to grasp. The assumption that works focusing on heterosexual themes should be the norm in fanworks is honestly creepy to me, and really does suggest a whole bag of fundamental misunderstandings. No, not just misunderstandings, but completely different ways of looking at the world, one based upon mainstream expectations versus counterculture and marginalization. But then I'm not quite sure how to feel about that.