Parting Glances: ShaZOOM! Oz Pride 2020

In spite of the halo'd Wizard of Oz, Pride 2020 came to the Yellow Brick Road — for the first time ever — this June. Thanks to the determination, hard work — and loyal fan base — of that redoubtable foursome: Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and "Over the Rainbow" vocalist: smiling, singing, swinging, Dorothy from Liberal, Kansas.
As might be expected their Virtual OZoom, two-hour-long presentation does full, if somewhat controversial, tribute to America's LGBTQ comic book community and its neglected history, struggles, heroes and villains.
"We are Proud, with a capital P, of who we are," Tin Woodsman said. "And while our comics have been around for decades delighting both young and old alike for 10 cents a read, we have our rainbow moments as well."
OZoom 2020! begins with America's outspoken, full-fledged crime fighter and vocal Amazon, Wonder Woman, speaking candidly about why it is so frequently necessary to put men in their place — especially when they make snide, demeaning comments about how women should keep silent in business, at home and at church.
Wonder Woman, who's been around since 1941, shows her soft-side moments when candidly talking about her relationship with her secret admirer Etta Candy, "Who has perhaps too much weight to be my heroine understudy."
She talks openly about her once-closeted side as Princess Diana of Themyscira.
"It took a while to come out, but it's been a source of strength and power for me," she said.
OZoom next features coverage of America's oldest comic book couple: Batman & Robin. The renowned "Dynamic Duo" have been together — would you believe — 79 years. Seventy-nine years! That has to be a record.
Featured, too, is their palatial Gotham City penthouse and pictured selections from their extensive, high-quality collection of capes and leather gloves.
OZoom Pride 2020 concludes with two well-deserved tributes. First, to Bert and Ernie of the Muppets and "Sesame Street" fame.
As a memory jog: it has been long-rumored that Bert and Ernie were a "loving couple," but in 2018, their "Sesame Street" writer Mark Saltzman said that they were "best friends" — if you can believe that.
Recently, however, "Sesame Street" carried a statement of inclusivity.
"On our streets we accept all, we love all and we respect all," it said. "Happy Pride Month."
It looks like Bert and Ernie are officially out.
The final tribute is to Burr Tillstrom (1917-1985), the creator, writer and puppeteer, of the much-beloved TV show, "Kukla, Fran and Ollie." The series was popular in the 1940s and 50s. It also starred the lovely and personable Fran Allison.
The Kuklapolitans, as they were called, was one of the first programs appealing to both children and grown-ups. Both Kukla and Ollie were "high camp" puppets on stage.
Little known at the time, Burr Tillstrom, originally from Chicago, was gay. A well-kept secret to TV audiences — that he was a long-time puppeteer since 1936, should have been a clue.
He has since been inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. And, in 2013, he was also inducted into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame.
OZoom PRIDE 2020 concludes with Scarecrow, Tinwood Man, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy holding hands while each wears rainbow-colored face masks while swaying to the music of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."
"Stay safe. Stay blessed. Stay determined! Vote wisely in 2020! But not for the slightly dizzy Wizard of OZ and his zany cohorts," Dorothy adds.