Democrats push to rename John Wayne Airport over actor’s white supremacy and homophobia

A statue of John Wayne is on display beneath an American flag in John Wayne Airport, located in Orange County, on June 28, 2020 in Santa Ana, California. Orange County

There are calls to rename John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, over his white supremacist and homophobic beliefs.

The Democratic Party of Orange County passed a resolution on Friday that called for Wayne’s name and likeness to be removed from the Orange County airport, one of several airports that serves the greater Los Angeles area, over his “racist and bigoted statements”.

Wayne was famous for his film roles in early Westerns – but the local party notes he also had “white supremacist, anti-LGBT+, and anti-Indigenous views”.

John Wayne was a proud white supremacist who decried ‘perverted fags’.

The movie star’s racist beliefs were documented in a 1971 interview with Playboy magazine, in which he insisted: “We can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the Blacks. I believe in white supremacy until the Blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.”

He also said: “I don’t feel guilty about the fact that five or 10 generations ago these people were slaves.”

Of gay people, he vented: “Movies were once made for the whole family. Now, with the kind of junk the studios are cranking out… I’m quite sure that within two or three years, Americans will be completely fed up with these perverted films.”

Wayne elaborated: “Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy – that kind of thing. Wouldn’t you say that the wonderful love of those two men in Midnight Cowboy, a story about two fags, qualifies?”

Democrats are calling for the name of John Wayne airport to be changed and the statue to be removed due to the deceased actor's 'racist and bigoted statements'.

Democrats are calling for the name of the airport to be changed and the statue to be removed due to the deceased actor’s ‘racist and bigoted statements’. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Rounding on indigenous Americans, Wayne also asserted: “I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them”, adding: “I don’t see why we owe them anything. I don’t know why the government should give them something that it wouldn’t give me.”

Calls to rename airport after local heroes.

Orange County Democrats chair Ada Briceño has made clear that calls for Wayne’s name to be removed have been a long-standing local issue.

She told CNN: “While some outside Orange County may not know of John Wayne’s beliefs in white supremacy, many Orange County residents have been calling for his removal for years. We’re seeing renewed calls for this right now, and it’s time for change.”

In a column for The Orange County Register, state senator Tom Umberg wrote that Wayne’s beliefs were “disturbing.” He added: “Those we honour reflect our values. When the millions of travellers arrive in Orange County, they should know what we honour, what values we hold, who we think is a role model. We should be proud to tell our children who our airport is named after, and why.”

He cited “thousands of heroes who have called Orange County home there are several examples of sacrifice worthy of having their names immortalised on an airport,” listing several war heroes from the area who the airport could be named after.