There is an obvious bond between two main Hobbit characters in Lord of the Rings books and movies, so people are with reason wondering, was Frodo Baggins gay, and is Sam in love with him?
It was never said that Frodo Baggins was gay, nor that Sam was in love with him.
But, what I think is that great J. R. R. Tolkien left room for individual interpretations of the relationship between those two characters in its books.
Frodo and Sam definitely have some connection that rarely any other characters in the books have (there are few), but is their relationship gay, and is Sam in love with Frodo is really hard to tell. And I think that is what Tolkien wanted, to give us a chance to interpret it the way we want to.
Sam and Frodo have that connection. There’s this bond that exists between them that even in the end, leaves little doubt to the depth, breadth, and platonic intimacy of how they feel for each other.
Sam leaves the comforts of his home to follow Frodo to a place that may as well be another planet to him. He risks his life by confronting Gollum, defending Frodo against Shelob and by rescuing him from the orcs thereafter, oh, and of course carrying him up to Mount Doom.
When Tolkien talks about Sam fighting to defend from Shelob, the language he uses is that of a small animal with teeth fighting to defend his mate. It’s not because he’s implying that Sam is attracted to Frodo sexually but he’s talking about the deeper bond that exists in a relationship of which sexuality is but one path to achieve.
Sam and Frodo love each other fully deeply and with as much commitment that any bond described. Sam even admits it one night to Frodo while watching him sleep.
We can’t forget that Sam goes off and marries and has children. But that is expected of him. That’s the culture of the time reflected by the culture of Tolkien’s time. He probably loves Rosie. Love is not exclusive. I imagine a lot of gay and bisexual men did the same. Maybe some of them had romantic relationships in their youth with other men that resulted in conflicted bonds that serve their memory later in life. I’m sure there are straight men who’ve shared an intimate platonic bond due to a common experience in something like WWII, or just great friendship through life.
“Don’t go where I can’t follow” is really hard to watch. It’s every bit as tragic as Romeo and Juliet’s death scene. Now, I know the ending… but it’s reflected at the end of the story too and it is masterfully done when Sam realizes that Frodo is leaving with Bilbo and Gandalf.
There is no doubt that Sam and Frodo’s relationship is one of the greatest loves stories ever told. It’s a love not catalyzed by sexuality but it’s a love story none-the-less.
There is also a possibility that their relationship is completely platonic, and can be both deep and intimate (not in the sense of romantic intimacy but one of emotional and personal intimacy of a person really knowing and understanding another person).
The love that Tolkien attempted to portray can also be seen as a warrior’s bond blended with a complex caste friendship.
It could very well be that Tolkien is giving us a glimpse of what relationships between the men in the trenches would have been like and why being defensive and stuffy about intimacy between men is just so dumb. He couples all this in a novel that is also referencing the ancient tales of the past with all the hypermasculine heroism qualities that are celebrated in song and poetry.
So Frodo and Sam can be gay if you want them to be. But if you impose the discipline in your thinking that they are possibly not, then the deeper meanings in Tolkien’s writing become clearer.
Consider the times in which Tolkien was born and his times in war.
Certainly, Bilbo preferred his own company and the company of males and he “adopts” one of his second cousins as his heir, one who also prefers the company of males. I suspect this kind of practice was not completely unheard of and a very nice way to give moral support to a younger relative of similar persuasion.
Then recall at the end of the novel, how Sam is so torn between Frodo and Rosie and Frodo proposes that Rosie move in. Sam might be bisexual, or he might not.
Again the ambiguity is in our faces and it is up to your own imagination as to what you interpret.
And the extended tale also says that Sam the devoted husband also goes to the havens once Rosie dies and he departs to the West, ostensibly to be with Frodo again but also to gain final healing after having been damaged himself by the depth of his empathy for Frodo as the Ring-bearer.
“I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
Make of that what you will.