Since there’s evidence to show John’s interest in Paul (in that he feels rejected by him), what do you think of the evidence suggesting Paul maybe felt similar feelings, if not to a lesser “interested” degree? Similar to how Philip Norman’s phrasing of “bohemians should try everything” minimizes John’s feelings for Paul, I feel like the dude-fandom-writers “romanticizing” of Paul’s pining for John (so that John is seen as the strong one/hero) has actually washed down Paul’s true feelings as wellOur Tumblr asks
This is a great question. You make an excellent point- that the fannish tendency of writers (looking at you Doggett and Lewisohn!) to position Paul as forever smitten by and pining for an indifferent, dismissive John probably obscures Paul’s true feelings as well.
Having said that, we aren’t aware of any evidence that suggests Paul had “similar” (i.e. sexual) feelings for John. Of course it’s possible, but entertaining this idea would be pure speculation. However, if you know of any evidence whatsoever (i.e. testimony from Paul or his intimates) that Paul wanted an affair with John, please let us know.
Paul is SO much more publicly forthcoming about his love for John than vice verse. We see this as both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, Paul’s testimony is very informative about the depth of their relationship. On the other hand, it gives a lopsided impression of their feelings for each other, and gives ammunition to those who wish to see the relationship as lopsided.
As we point out on the podcast, 95% of Paul’s loving comments were made after John’s death. But even in 1970, as Paul was attempting to finalize the divorce, he was able to articulate to the press several times (i.e. to John, through the newspaper) that he loved John. To our ears this doesn’t sound “desperate” or “thirsty” but quite the opposite! To us it sounds like Paul is trying to soften the blow of his departure, reassuring John that despite the mess of the break-up, John is still valued and loved. Again, YMMV, but to us this sounds like it comes from a place of maturity and true, deep compassion.
One thing we do believe is that Paul did cherish being the most important person in John’s life and perhaps Paul’s (romantic, possessive) feelings may have gotten murky by ’68 when Yoko entered the scene and Paul realized his position as #1 might be threatened. By 1970 (when he commits to the divorce), Paul is able to articulate that he was jealous of Yoko when she first arrived, indicating that he is aware of his feelings and capable of taking responsibility for them.
By 1985, Paul understands and is able to say aloud that he was “like (John’s) girlfriend” so he recognizes that they are like a couple (in terms of intensity of emotion). However he also makes the point that he couldn’t fight for John because he was “not a girl.” While this is somewhat open to interpretation, it sounds to us as if the stumbling block in Paul’s mind is mismatched gender; they love each other but are both guys, so therefore it doesn’t work (at least in Paul’s heterosexual mind). Maybe in another lifetime, another incarnation… But not this one. So Paul stepped aside.
Whereas John seemed to have loved and wanted Paul as he was. i.e. John loved Paul the man, as a man.
Is it possible there’s more to the story? Sure. But if there is, we simply don’t have those details. And we believe the way both John and Paul continued to struggle with comprehending and defining their relationship throughout their lives was genuine. Our best evidence is that while they weren’t lovers, they were something more than friends and they probably existed in this indefinable middle ground for a long time. Paul seems to have dropped enough hints/taunts (on RAM, for example) to indicate that he was aware of some underlying sexual tension between them, and that he was aware of John’s desire for him. So even if Paul wasn’t interested in or willing to pursue a sexual relationship, he did seem willing to fan the flames and probably greatly enjoyed being desired, and sometimes deliberately stoked the heat between them.
Ultimately, John and Paul reached some sort of impasse in 1968-69, and we DO know that John contemplated an affair with Paul (and was deterred because he believed Paul was straight and therefore uninterested). This is the actual information we have, and therefore what our assumptions are based on.
We definitely believe Paul loved and missed John throughout the 70s, and continues to love and miss John now. We also believe that John & Paul had a special connection that they both found impossible to replicate. Again, the main difference is that Paul is (at least now) much more able and willing to articulate these things without shame.
Which gets to the bigger point. We find the major difference in what John and Paul are willing to admit about each other somehow involves internalized shame. Paul simply doesn’t exhibit the shame John does on this subject. Paul’s ability to wax poetic about how John had beautiful hands, for example, reflects to us a lack of embarrassment about his feelings. John’s ability to speak openly about his love for Paul was much more compromised, often coinciding with his level of comfort with his own sexuality. (You can do the math on that one). And vitally, what John said behind closed doors about Paul (to Yoko, to Harry Nilsson, to his own diaries, etc) was often more revealing than what he said in public.
I sometimes feel like the fandom displays an overwhelming desire for equivalence in this area, I guess because this is more palatable? But John and Paul were of course, individuals with separate identities (sexual and otherwise) and by the time they broke up we do believe they wanted different things. Also, fans and authors alike tend to show resistance towards allowing Paul to have multiple and complex emotions like they allow for John. So while we do think John was the center of Paul’s universe in the 60s, we also think Paul had other interests, attractions, and loves and this is seldom acknowledged. So although we always consider their love deep and mutual, we do acknowledge that their wants and needs occasionally fell out of sync and caused hurt feelings on both sides.
Also, the fandom seems to underestimate Paul’s incredible powers of seduction, and his natural inclination to flirt. And the authorship (who is apparently 24/7 horny for Lennon) seems in literal denial about Paul’s desirability. We feel this also drastically skews the read on the Lennon/McCartney dynamic.