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Discuss the Inclusion of a Gay Character


Luckers
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I see the absence of a male gay character up until this point as a result of the audience RJ was writing for. 2011 is a far different world than 1989 or even 2004. Lesbians were more socially acceptable to include, but gay men were (and in some ways still are) more taboo.

 

I don't see anything wrong with Brandon's addition. It's not going to change the story.

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I don't much care either way. I'll read the book. I'll enjoy it. I don't much care for reading about Aviendha's growing affection for lace and frills, or Elayne's mood swings, or the like.

 

I'm a heterosexual man. On a visceral level, I can enjoy reading scenes with female sexuality. While I might not share the sexual connection when reading about fictional homosexual acts, that doesn't mean that they'll detract from the story for me any more than any other plot device. And as a gay rights advocate, I appreciate that Brandon is trying to bring the Wheel of Time out of the closet.

 

If it lessens your enjoyment - if it grosses you out, you have some issues with sexuality that need working out. Sex is not gross. It's something that people do. If the parties are consenting adults, you don't have to get aroused from reading it, but there's something wrong if you're having a severe negative emotional response. Especially if that goes to the point where you'll throw away your fandom of a series like the Wheel of Time over a passing issue in the narrative.

 

In the immortal words of Rhett Butler, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." Good for Brandon.

Edited by Seth Baker
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I think it's about time to post the full text of Brandon's essay on Dumbledore. I think it might give you some insight into his motives here, and his tactics....and there are even a few clues on who the character might be.

 

I'm not on the cutting edge of the blogosphere. Like many of us, I read about Rowling's statements when they were said earlier this week. However, I usually like to think about things for a time before I write an essay about them. With this issue, I was tempted to simply let it go, since others have covered it quite well, and I worried about offending people.

 

However, I think I'm in an interesting position to speak about this particular event. I might be able to add something to conversation, and so I decided to go ahead and put my thoughts to page. I warn you that this is rather long, and does deal with religious topics, so if that isn't your cup of tea, feel free to pass on this one!

 

I am a practicing member of the LDS (aka Mormon) church. I am up front about this, and feel that it does influence my work and perspective on writing.

 

I'm also an artist and, like many in the arts, find myself somewhat more liberal than others in my society. The trick is, my 'liberal' is still what most of you outside of Utah would consider 'conservative.' (As our friend Einstein would say, it all has to do with one's relative point of reference.)

 

I find myself more socialist than most living around me, and find myself FAR more liberal when it comes to free speech and exchange of ideas. However, I also accept my church's stance against gay marriage.

 

I try my very best to be understanding of all viewpoints, but at the same time it's a very important part of my core philosophy on life that there is immutable TRUTH in the universe. I haven't honestly worked out all of my own opinions on this issue. I'm still thinking, exploring, and talking to people on both sides. However, if asked to do so, I would vote against legislation that would give an official stamp of approval to gay marriage. The simple reason is this: I honestly and sincerely believe that in voting against such legislation, I would act in the best interests of those who are gay. (I realize that this probably sounds ridiculous to gay people reading this. You likely don't want me acting in your best interests against you expressed will, and I can understand that. However, please try to understand me. My conscience will not allow me to do something—even at your request—that I feel will bring you a great deal of pain and suffering at a later date.)

 

I don't resent or even oppose the bringing forth of such things for a vote. I understand why others might vote in a different way than I would. I do not resent those who wish for changes in this area. But I must hold true to what I believe. This wouldn't stop me from voting for a president who supported gay marriage, as I've voted for presidents who take money from the tobacco lobby. Politics, and presidents, are far more complicated than one issue. However, if the issue itself is presented to me for a vote, I must remain true to things I believe and hold sacred. I feel that doing otherwise would be a betrayal of myself and the things I uphold.

 

(Again, please don't write me to argue for either side on gay marriage. I'm still studying, reading, listening, and making up my mind. This is my stance at this point, and I would prefer not to argue.)

 

Anyway, all of that up above is just to give you a point of reference. That is who I am and what I believe. That said, when I read the article where Rowling 'outed' Dumbledore, my first thought was "Hey, that's cool."

 

Why? Several reasons. First off, as an author, I like to know about characters and understand their motivations. Learning something additional about Dumbledore is interesting to me, as it expands my understanding of the story and him as a character. I thought it was a nice little tidbit, then moved on.

 

Of course, I did presage—as many of us probably did—the media storm that would follow. I wasn't ready, however, for how bitter a lot of my friends and my family would act toward Rowling and her books. Mostly, this essay I'm writing is for them: the people on the conservative right who were bothered by Dumbledore's outing, and now feel that the books are somehow 'ruined.'

 

(I know those of you to the left are probably rolling your eyes at all of us on the right. This essay probably won't make you any more hopeful of our 'coming around.' I hope those of you who advocate gay rights will be bemused at our curmudgeonly ways, instead of ranting and yelling at us. One of the things that interests me most about this debate is that those who cry for open mindedness often seem to be as hateful and unwilling to look from someone else's perspective as the people on the far right. Rationally work to enlighten us through thoughtful nudging. Don't call us idiots and homophobes. It really doesn't help.)

 

Rambling text, check. Off topic tangents, check. Wild attempts to placate both sides in a self-effacing way, check. Likelihood of this all blowing up in my face anyway, check. Always nice to know that I'm consistent with these essays, if nothing else. Anyway, for those who care to read on, here are the reasons why Rowling's announcement isn't something you conservatives should feel bitter about, as explained to you in four points by a half-liberal, half-Christian-nut-job fantasy novelist.

 

Point One: Rowling wisely chose not to include talk of Dumbledore's homosexuality in the text of the seventh novel. I think she is to be commended for this. Not because it's a big deal that Dumbledore is gay, but because I think it would have BECOME a big deal to a lot of people if she'd mentioned it in text, thereby turning the seventh book into a debate over gay rights. Dumbledore's sexuality would have overshadowed everything else that happened.

 

The sexuality of any of the adult characters had no place in these books. Teenage hormones are appropriately dealt with, but in a lighthearted way. To talk about Dumbledore's sexuality in the books would, I think, have been counter to the tone of the novels.

 

Instead, Rowling waited until afterward. This news comes as an insight into the character after-the-fact, released in a way that will allow us to understand Dumbledore better without dominating the story. Those of you on the right who are ranting and raving—or even just feeling bitter—should, in my opinion, commend her, rather than giving her back-handed compliments. (Such as "Well, I still like the books, even if this does kind of ruin them." Or "Why'd she have to go and do that to what could have been a perfect story.")

 

Some of you think that she did this just for publicity. You think she made it up recently, after finishing the book, and is simply trying to get 'in' with a certain crowd. I wonder why you would say things like this. You love the woman's books, you waited eagerly for the next one to come out, you commended her writing and her narrative. Now you refuse to take her statements at face value? You assume she's lying just because she says something you don't agree with?

 

I suggest giving people the benefit of the doubt. She implies that she had this in mind for the character for some time. I respect her as an author; I will trust her word.

 

Point Two: DEPICTION is NOT ENDORSEMENT.

 

Conservatives and artists have gone the rounds about this one since the days of classical Greece. (And probably before.) The fact of the matter is that gay people exist. They're a part of the world, and regardless of what you think of their sexual orientation, they are no more likely to be "good" or "bad" than any of the rest of us. Putting a gay person into a story isn't an attempt to say "Look, you should all be gay." It isn't even, necessarily, an attempt to say "Being gay is all right." It's simply being true to life.

 

(Note that I think that Rowling does, indeed, think that there is no moral issue with homosexuality. However, the depiction of Dumbledore in the books in no way implies an attempt on her part to 'subvert' your children or endorse homosexuality. If I were to depict an LDS person in a book, it would not be an attempt to convert people to my church; it would simply be an attempt at representing the world around me.)

 

Point Three: This should be an opportunity to show some good old-fashioned Christian understanding (something I always think is in short supply). Can't we prove that we can accept people (even fictional ones) with whom we disagree while at the same time taking a stand against the things they do?

 

What would you have writers do? Never put gay people into books? Ignoring the existence of something you don't approve of is NEVER a good way of dealing with it.

 

"But, I don't want to read books with gay people in them," you might say. What are you going to do? Not shop at supermarkets where gay people work? Avoid streets they might drive down? What are you going to do when a family member tells you that they're gay? If we ignore the existence of homosexuality and same sex attraction, it will slap us in the face. Worse, we risk becoming the prejudiced bigots the other side already thinks that we are.

 

We can accept that some people think differently than we do without endorsing their actions. Why is it so easy for LDS people to read (and write) books about others who drink recreationally without repercussions, yet at the same time get so bitter at the mere off-handed mention that someone in some story we liked might have been gay?

 

This is an opportunity, not a tragedy. It can lead you to explaining your opinions and, perhaps, making a good impression on people. You can't do that if you're speaking bitterly about how much this ruins the books—that just sounds spiteful.

 

Look at it this way, my morally conservative friends. If your children hear you speaking with bitterness about discovering that Dumbledore is gay, how are they going to respond if they start feeling same sex attraction themselves? They'll assume you're going to react to them with the same bitterness. They will suppress and hide their feelings. (And yes, that's a bad thing.) Would you not rather have them know that you're understanding enough that they can come to you with what they are feeling, so that you can lovingly—and encouragingly—explain to them the LDS perspective on dealing with these emotions?

 

You may think that if you shelter your children, teach them right, and are spiritual enough, you'll never have to deal with one of them thinking they might be gay. I can point you at a couple of families who did just that, and it didn't work. I have neither the time or will to get into the "nature vs. nurture" debate with you on this one. It doesn't matter. Whether it's learned or innate, homosexuality is something that families who are just as spiritual, loving, and careful as yours have to deal with. Explain and love. Don't ignore.

 

(Another note to those who might be reading this who are, themselves, gay. No, I don't believe that homosexuality can—in many cases, at least—be treated and 'cured.' I do believe, however, that impulses of attraction between people of the same gender are something that can and should be resisted, in the same way that my impulses of attraction toward women who are not my wife can and should be resisted. You probably believe differently. I'm okay with that. End note.)

 

Anyway, back to the parent with the child. You speak of the Harry Potter books as being ruined, at least in part, for you. How is that going to make your children think? If they feel same sex attraction, will they worry that they're ruining your life? Even worse, what if they think that the existence of gay people in the real world ruins life for the rest of us? Is this REALLY what you want to be teaching your children?

 

Better to have a beloved fictional character present you with an opportunity to talk to your children about these things than to have them get hit in the face with it when one of their siblings or friends declares they are gay.

 

(Besides, in another side note, LDS people might want to notice that Dumbledore might have been gay, but in the material we've been presented, he never acts on any of those feelings save for one event long ago. Might that not suggest to you that in recent years, he has been resisting the impulse? Would that not make him noble? Why grow indignant about a NON-PRACTICING gay man? Seems like shooting yourselves in the foot to me.)

 

Point Four: Straw Men serve nobody.

 

I think that some people are so miffed because they looked up to Dumbledore. If it had been a less respected character, it wouldn't be such a big deal to discover they were gay.

 

Well, look at it this way. If I were going to put a gay person into one of my books—and I do intend to do so at some point—I would make absolutely certain to make them strong, competent, and worthy of respect. Why? Because I worry about my internal bias, and feel that the only way to be respectful—and, in a way, loving—of those who disagree with me is to present their case as BEST I can.

 

If you believe in truth that transcends all of us, as I think many of you do, then that truth should be able to stand on its own against the strongest of arguments its opponents can make. Nothing annoys me more than a 'straw man' depiction of a character. This is where an author creates a character who disagrees with him, and then has that character make flawed (sometimes idiotic) arguments that don't accurately represent the beliefs of the other side. Often, these characters exist in a book simply so they can learn the error of their ways. (I'm looking at you, Dan Brown.)

 

If you believe strongly your point is correct, then it should be able to stand against good, intelligent, and capable arguments made by people on the other side who are honorable and reasonable. For sake of argument, I will use Captain Planet. This was a cartoon show during the 90's in which all of the villains were evil people who wanted to pollute and destroy the earth. Captain Planet fought them.

 

Each of the show's villains were presented as despicable, disgusting, slovenly, and malicious. The show's good intentions—that of teaching reverence for the environment—was, in my opinion, sabotaged completely by creating inane, exaggerated villains. Sure, Captain Planet can beat the slugeman who pollutes for the sheer fun of it. It's an easy battle; everyone can see that sludgeman is an idiot. By working so hard to fight him, Captain Plant comes off—in my opinion—like a weak, ridiculous fool.

 

When writing, I always say that the strength of the antagonist determines the strength of the protagonist. If you're going to disprove an argument, you'd better make that argument as solid as you can—otherwise I'm going to assume that you're INTENTIONALLY leaving things out because you know your own argument is inferior. Captain Planet has to fight these ridiculous villains because he doesn't have good enough arguments to debate intelligent, good-intentioned people who happen to believe differently from himself.

 

How does this relate to Dumbledore? I'm not trying to present him as an antagonist or a villain. All I'm saying is that if you believe in the truth of your message, then you shouldn't care if someone decent, respected, and intelligent is depicted as believing differently from yourself. Decent, respected, and intelligent people can be wrong—and you can still respect them. It's okay. That doesn't threaten our points, since we (theoretically) believe that they are eternal and stronger than any argument we could make.

 

It's not a threat to us to have someone we love turn out to be gay, and if Rowling were going to choose to make a character gay, I'd have pointed right at Dumbledore. Picking a villain would have been a bad choice; picking one of the children would have made it too much a central theme of the books. Don't look and hope for straw men. Look for people who believe differently than yourself, but who are the best of the best—men like Dumbledore. Because talking, exchanging ideas, and learning from them will only make your arguments stronger.

People like Brandon, eh? He's an easy one for me to go to for someone to respect from the 'other side'. Maybe one day he will be willing to argue with me about gay marriage, even though I implied that he was homophobic (at least a little bit) in this thread. :biggrin:

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I'm a woman, and I find the sight of lesbians interacting fills me with revulsion (not fear), at least as it was depicted in 'The Killing of Sister George'. I find the sight of men holding hands and being physically affectionate does the same. I find the attitude that anyone experiencing these feelings has 'something wrong with them' to be deeply saddening - it's up there with those deaf people who won't let their children be treated for the condition with cochlear implants. I find the attitude that targets men as 'inherently sexist' and 'homophobic' to be itself sexist.

 

I'm also a blood donor, and as such I know that the homosexual act is medically dangerous. If you want to know why it is, look up the term 'immune modulation' and consider a certain type of drug delivery system. And ask yourselves how it is that a woman's immune system ever lets her get pregnant.

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there are degrees of homophobia ranging from that awkward feeling to full-on hate. Again, it's the connotations of the word that make people defensive about it, but it's still pretty prevalent among hetero men, and it's something that I don't really think is insurmountable.

 

I've never liked the term "homophobia" or "homophobe," which has always struck me as trying to sound like some sort of clinical diagnosis of mental health (or lack thereof). The wikipedia definition mentioned earlier seems pretty good, but who is to decide what an "irrational fear" is in this case? The problem seems to be that the word carries with it a normative element: when a person is named a "homophobe" he or she has a moral failing which ought to be rectified. It is not just an "illness," it is moral turpitude. That is the connotation of the word "homophobe." And because of this, it is not a word that ought to be bandied about. And it certainly should not be used to include such a wide degree as "ranging from that awkward feeling to full-on hate" (as the above quoted poster suggests). That is quite a range. I think it a bit extreme to hold that a person who has that "awkward feeling" differs from the one who "hates gay people" by only a matter of degree. There is obviously more than a difference of degree between two such people--one of them hates (which is a moral failing) and one of them feels awkward (which is certainly not a moral failing). Perhaps we should reserve the word "homophobe" for those cases that truly resemble the haters.

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@FSM - Again, if you feel revulsion at the sight of lesbians, then you are involving yourself in the sight more than is strictly necessary. Also, there are many 'homosexual acts', most of which are not strictly homosexual in nature....and, there are many medical issues that arise in any number of sexual acts. But congrats on being a blood donor.

Edited by Terez
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there are degrees of homophobia ranging from that awkward feeling to full-on hate. Again, it's the connotations of the word that make people defensive about it, but it's still pretty prevalent among hetero men, and it's something that I don't really think is insurmountable.

 

I've never liked the term "homophobia" or "homophobe," which has always struck me as trying to sound like some sort of clinical diagnosis of mental health (or lack thereof). The wikipedia definition mentioned earlier seems pretty good, but who is to decide what an "irrational fear" is in this case?

We examine the logic of it. If homosexuality bothers you...is there a logical reason for it? If not, then it's irrational. But 'aversion' is much easier to define.

 

That is quite a range. I think it a bit extreme to hold that a person who has that "awkward feeling" differs from the one who "hates gay people" by only a matter of degree. There is obviously more than a difference of degree between two such people--one of them hates (which is a moral failing) and one of them feels awkward (which is certainly not a moral failing). Perhaps we should reserve the word "homophobe" for those cases that truly resemble the haters.

I think it's important to recognize that they only differ by degree - at least in terms of the homophobia itself. Just because you do not hate people does not mean that you are not completely capable of causing pain, just with your casual disgust (see Luckers' comments on relating Rand's position to that of the average gay teenager's position).

 

As I said earlier, it's okay to be a little awkward about it, and it's even more understandable with people like Brandon who have deeply-held religious beliefs about sexual morality....but if those feelings are particularly strong, then they should probably be examined, because they are essentially irrational.

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there are degrees of homophobia ranging from that awkward feeling to full-on hate. Again, it's the connotations of the word that make people defensive about it, but it's still pretty prevalent among hetero men, and it's something that I don't really think is insurmountable.

 

I've never liked the term "homophobia" or "homophobe," which has always struck me as trying to sound like some sort of clinical diagnosis of mental health (or lack thereof). The wikipedia definition mentioned earlier seems pretty good, but who is to decide what an "irrational fear" is in this case?

We examine the logic of it. If homosexuality bothers you...is there a logical reason for it? If not, then it's irrational. But 'aversion' is much easier to define.

 

Ah, and that's part of why I suggested that it is problematic to include "irrational" in the definition. Who decides what is "irrational"? There is no agreed upon definition of "rationality." There is no way to agree upon what counts (and what does not) as a "logical reason."

 

Now, it is clear that we are supposed to move from "irrationality" to "morally wrong." But that also seems an illicit move. What makes the irrational aspect so difficult to agree upon is that "homophobia" implies moral failing.

 

That is quite a range. I think it a bit extreme to hold that a person who has that "awkward feeling" differs from the one who "hates gay people" by only a matter of degree. There is obviously more than a difference of degree between two such people--one of them hates (which is a moral failing) and one of them feels awkward (which is certainly not a moral failing). Perhaps we should reserve the word "homophobe" for those cases that truly resemble the haters.

I think it's important to recognize that they only differ by degree - at least in terms of the homophobia itself. Just because you do not hate people does not mean that you are not completely capable of causing pain, just with your casual disgust (see Luckers' comments on relating Rand's position to that of the average gay teenager's position).

 

But I don't think they only differ by degree--they obviously don't. There is a qualitative difference between the person who feels awkward about it and the person who hates. I repeat: this is not a matter of degree.

 

Also, your point that even if you don't hate you are still capable of causing pain is unrelated to the definition or use of the term "homophobe." Unless we are to define the term by what harm our actions do to others. But if that's the case, I have absolutely no idea what "homophobe" is supposed to mean anymore. We have lost control of the word.

 

As I said earlier, it's okay to be a little awkward about it, and it's even more understandable with people like Brandon who have deeply-held religious beliefs about sexual morality....but if those feelings are particularly strong, then they should probably be examined, because they are essentially irrational.

 

I'm not sure we want to go down this road (in this forum or thread). Examining the rationality or irrationality of religious beliefs is too small of a topic for us to bother with, eh? :biggrin:

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there are degrees of homophobia ranging from that awkward feeling to full-on hate. Again, it's the connotations of the word that make people defensive about it, but it's still pretty prevalent among hetero men, and it's something that I don't really think is insurmountable.

 

I've never liked the term "homophobia" or "homophobe," which has always struck me as trying to sound like some sort of clinical diagnosis of mental health (or lack thereof). The wikipedia definition mentioned earlier seems pretty good, but who is to decide what an "irrational fear" is in this case?

We examine the logic of it. If homosexuality bothers you...is there a logical reason for it? If not, then it's irrational. But 'aversion' is much easier to define.

 

Ah, and that's part of why I suggested that it is problematic to include "irrational" in the definition. Who decides what is "irrational"? There is no agreed upon definition of "rationality." There is no way to agree upon what counts (and what does not) as a "logical reason."

You say that as if there is no point in debating the relative logic of various positions. There are many widely-agreed-upon methods for examining the strength of arguments. Have you ever studied formal logic?

 

Now, it is clear that we are supposed to move from "irrationality" to "morally wrong." But that also seems an illicit move. What makes the irrational aspect so difficult to agree upon is that "homophobia" implies moral failing.

Just because one has an irrational fear does not mean that one will necessarily act upon it in a way that is morally wrong.

 

Also, your point that even if you don't hate you are still capable of causing pain is unrelated to the definition or use of the term "homophobe." Unless we are to define the term by what harm our actions do to others. But if that's the case, I have absolutely no idea what "homophobe" is supposed to mean anymore. We have lost control of the word.

No, we haven't. Homophobia means that you have a fear of homosexuality, or a strong aversion to it. There is a difference between homophobia and homophobic acts, and we should be clear on that difference rather than trying to redefine words because we don't like their connotations.

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Some of you make it sound as if Brandon intents to write 30 pages exclusively about the love life of this gay character. The chances of this happening are about 0.000001%. In fact, I'll be shocked if this whole thing gets more than a page or two, so it won't be a problem of reducing the space for the other plotlines and characters.

 

The whole "I am not against gays, but it's too much of a side issue to merit inclusion" makes little sense anyway in a series famous for going on and on about all sorts of tangential issues. Yeah, I know AMOL is the last volume, but even it won't be only battles and plot resolutions, that's would be totally against the spirit of the series.

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@FSM - Again, if you feel revulsion at the sight of lesbians, then you are involving yourself in the sight more than is strictly necessary.

 

Not so. It is hate which involves someone - just as love does, incidentally. Revulsion is a withdrawing, a distancing. Biologically, it's a defence mechanism. Consider what kinds of things we find revolting.. I won't get biological!

 

Also, there are many 'homosexual acts', most of which are not strictly homosexual in nature....and, there are many medical issues that arise in any number of sexual acts.

 

I refer specifically to

anal penetration

, as I suspect you know quite well.

 

Yes, sexual acts can be problematic, which is why promiscuity and early loss of virginity are also medically dangerous. But these problems can be avoided, while still leading a satisfying sex life.

 

But congrats on being a blood donor.

 

Thanks!

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I can't wait for Brandon's Perrin/Mat flashback when they console each other in The Great Hunt, after Rand has announced he can channel. And Mat/Talmanes, after Mat kills Couladin. Oh, and Rand/Lan, when the Dragon learns valuable lessons on Sheathing the Sword

 

 

:baalzamon:

 

ETA: Sorry I couldn't resist the above. I do think, though, that the above does highlight what is precisely not going to happen when the gay character is introduced. We won't be having sudden slash-fic pairings popping up. We won't have it necessarily having that much attention called to it. Personally, I see one of two things:

 

1. We get a PoV of a random Whitecloak or something like that. He casually thinks of a good-looking guy somewhere in his thoughts and that's it. In the notes this will be random character PoV that RJ had never really developed. No idea of personality, nothing, only BS knowing what its supposed to show in terms of action. So this would be no different than a casual friendship dropped in or something that was never mentioned.

 

2. We get a Black Tower character somewhat developed in his interactions with people in the sense that you realize that, say, the guy that got turned to the Shadow through 13X13 was his boyfriend. Which adds to the character and scene as you now have a deeper appreciation of just how hard it'll be to fight this person. This would be a case of perhaps some notes on the guy and that, for some reason unexplained, he really hates Taim and what he's doing. More than the other Light Asha'man I mean.

Edited by Elend
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Took me over an hour to read this thread. A few thoughts:

 

My own reaction to encountering a gay character is, what does his orientation mean to the plot? Let's read on and see. In the oft-cited case of Dumbledore, I didn't need Rowling's after the fact announcement to see that his love for Grindelwald led him down a path he shouldn't have followed, and that this was a critical plot point. When Sanderson's gay character shows up, we'll see what effect he has on the story line. Only then will we be able to express an opinion on whether or not the character's inclusion was justified.

 

Randland does not seem to have much of our world's attitude that sexual practices between consenting adults are "moral" issues. The pillowfriends issue is just mentioned in passing, as in "oh, they were pillowfriends as novices". The Windfinder's lesbian relationship was an issue for her because it would be seen as unfaithfulness to her husband, not because it was with another woman. Nynaeve and Egwene may get a bit upset about Rand's "carrying on" with his women, but they come from the Two Rivers, and have typical small-town attitudes about this. Perrin's reaction to Berelain is more of the same, and Mat is a different, but still characteristic small-town person let loose in the wider world. Most of Randland, though, seems to have the healthy attitude that sex is how adults play well with others. This leads me to believe that homosexuality is one of those things that everybody knows about, but they don't spend time discussing it because it's no big deal to them, it's just the way some people are.

 

From another aspect, including a gay character has the benefit of giving gay readers a sense of inclusion. I am old enough to remember when network television series were all white folks, and black kids would say that they didn't watch TV because no one on TV was like them. Randland has characters that, by their physical or cultural descriptions, are similar to whites, blacks, latins, asians, polynesians, arabs, and so on. It's part of the richness of WOT that not everyone in it seems drawn from a small, eurocentric medeival gene pool. RJ built a realistic world in the social and cultural senses, and gay characters would be more of the same.

 

Finally, I don't believe that debate is going to change the minds of anyone who has strong personal convictions, pro or con, about this issue. One fact, however, must be acknowledged -- the final decision is Brandon Sanderson's, and each of us can only take it in our own way. As Jack Ryan's politcal advisor told him on one of Tom Clancy's books, if you hold out for universal popularity you'll have a long, long wait. Sanderson will write what he feels called to write.

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Finally, I don't believe that debate is going to change the minds of anyone who has strong personal convictions, pro or con, about this issue.

This sort of statement gets thrown around a lot, but it's not true. I've seen many opinions change and evolve over the years. Most will continue to believe as they do, but not all, and the few who can be persuaded make the debate worth the time.

 

Also, I don't believe that the inclusion of a gay male character necessarily needs to be 'justified' any more than any other character's sexual orientation needs to be justified. RJ already said that there are gay males in his world. It does, however, need to be handled in such a way that makes the most readers happy (aside from not doing it at all, which has its own problems), since it's a controversial issue, and this should technically include some sort of significance to said character's sexual orientation in the plot.

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Guest PiotrekS

I don't think that not enjoying the idea of male sexual intimacy or feeling uncomfortable about it should be equated with being homophobic. Being heterosexual doesn't mean being homophobic.

Being heterosexual doesn't mean being homophobic, but expecting the world to conform to your heterosexual preferences IS homophobic.

 

I agree with that. Weren't we as well talking about subjective feelings that don't get externalized and don't involve any expectations as to other people,though?

 

Personally, as a heterosexual male, I don't find male homosexual inimacy "disgusting" or "gross",but simply difficult to understand (on emotional level, I can understand it intelectually)or relate to. That's what I meant by "not enjoying". I have absolutely no problem with people engaging in it, or the issue appearing in books or movies.

 

It is also fair to say that there are many large groups of people that weren't mentioned in WOT, despite their importance in any kind of "realistic" society. What with e.g. old people who are dependent on others? In WOT we see only strong and able old people (Cadsuane, Sorilea). Wouldn't it be more realistic if at least one of our heroes had a relative that was dependent upon his or hers care and would die when left alone? That's what would happen in XVI century village, especially with hard winter from EotW. What about disabled people? What about mental illness not related to channeling? What about transexuals?

Isn't our insistence on one subject an example of another kind of bias? Isn't there a little "fashion" factor involved?

 

Since I came to the conclusion that I would have no problem with gay character, provided that the integrity of RJ's creation is respected, I would like to add that I also wouldn't mind a homosexual romance or sex scene-since we include a gay character, they have every right to be there as well.It would of course have to be written in good taste. I don't think it will happen though, since all previous sex scenes in WOT involved major characters and were important to the plot.

 

It would be nice if the inclusion of gay character had some plot significance, but for me it could as well be one of these "insignificant plot details"-which I love, by the way. It would be better to just mention it than to create plot reasons for it in artificial or forced way.

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2. We get a Black Tower character somewhat developed in his interactions with people in the sense that you realize that, say, the guy that got turned to the Shadow through 13X13 was his boyfriend. Which adds to the character and scene as you now have a deeper appreciation of just how hard it'll be to fight this person. This would be a case of perhaps some notes on the guy and that, for some reason unexplained, he really hates Taim and what he's doing. More than the other Light Asha'man I mean.

 

LIKE!

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I'm sure twenty people have already said something similar, but to me it seems that including a verification of a gay male character this late in the story by an author finishing it for its deceased creator stinks of placation and feels like a last-minute attempt to make the story more PCish. STINKS, I SAY!! And I don't like it. I'll bet my aged grandmother that RJ wasn't planning anything like that. Am I anti-gay? No. I don't care if you're a guy and you want to lubb on some other guy in the privacy of your own bedroom (or kitchen, or car, or living room, or garage, but not in the bathroom. People poo there). I'm saying that it wasn't an intended part of the story, and whether you want to call RJ man-lubbin'-phobic or not, its his freakin' story, and it should remain true to him without adding in pacification for the masses (or not so masses, whatever).

 

Thanks!

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Before I begin, you people are making it very hard to moderate this thread. Have mercy on those of us who can't read as fast as you, won't you? :sad:

 

I have to say, though, I don't see the connection to your watered-down scenarios. That's quite simple - if you don't fancy someone it's just awkward to get too personal with them

Exactly. For some reason we find it difficult to process sexual conversation or implication without involving ourselves and our own preferences (which are, of course, usually quite irrelevant).

True that. I think you might finally hit the nail on the underlying reason I was looking for. To @FSM I'd say that there's a difference between your reaction to something and the way you process it. I think Terez is right about the way humans process situations with sexual implications. Admittedly, I can only truly speak for myself, though I do have more to go on when I say I think most men do it the same way.

 

I don't feel the need to roleplay or get hormonally involved just because sex is happening.

Hmm, well that answers my previous question, as far as you're concerned at least. :smile:

I do find that difficult to relate to.

 

ok 96ish posts in, i'm sorry to ask but who is it exactly? i missed that other mentioned topic, can't find it ("who is it" is to short to search for)

It appears as though the separate thread created for that purpose has disappeared

Not so, it was merely locked because people proved incapable of arguing the topic in an adult manner. Look for a locked topic down-board, you'll find it easy enough :wink:

 

I do not need nor want some pointless side details concerning anyones sexual escapades.

Why assume they will be pointless? Love is, after all, a rather important theme in WoT, which is why there has been so much attention given to 'sexual escapades' previously. I mean, did we really need all that about Mat? What did it add to the story, aside from another dimension for Mat's character? What about Caraline and Darlin? Or, even further down the ladder, Valan Luca's flirtation with Nynaeve? His marriage to Latelle? Obviously, I could go on and on. So what's the problem again?

Hear, hear. Where would we be right now (without love? No, I won't go there) without the Far Snows? Like it or not, it has been a part of tWoT from the get go (Else Grinwell, anyone?)

 

Two more remarks, if you please.

First, @TheBigCheese, I completely agree with your differentiating illogical acts from moral implications, and thank you for putting it this way. Indeed, I see nothing immoral about that sense of awkwardness, though I do think it's unkind not to get over it (or at least not let it control your actions) if you suspect you might be hurting someone. And I do find unkindness morally reprehensible.

 

Second, @Terez, thank you for including Brandon's blog post. I've stopped following those, and I did like reading this one. While I find his logic wanting at times, it's good to know where he's coming from.

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As I said earlier, it's okay to be a little awkward about it, and it's even more understandable with people like Brandon who have deeply-held religious beliefs about sexual morality....but if those feelings are particularly strong, then they should probably be examined, because they are essentially irrational.

 

Terez....I agree with most of what you say, but I think people being awkward is not necessarily irrational. As people, we are often awkward around things that we are not used to. Years ago, homosexuality was simply not seen much outside of certain areas. People are not used to it, and therefore are unsure of how to act and feel around it. Hence the awkwardness. Even today, how many gay men are shown on tv or movies, in a relationship, kissing, holding hands, in bed together etc? The only ones I can think of offhand are Glee and Modern Family.

 

The question will be what these people do with that feeling. Do they allow themselves to accept that gay people have every right to express themselves and should not have to hide, or do they clutch onto that awkwardness and become truly bigoted?

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I figure it'll be something of a minor aside - for example, King Alsalam Saeed Almadar of Arad Doman has a brief conversation with Rodel Ituralde. The king tells Ituralde that if he dies, Ituralde is to be king. Ituralde protests, and Almadar says that he did his duty to his country to produce an heir once, but he won't curse a another young woman with another empty marriage. Something like that is simple, basic, and matters somewhat to the plot (Almadar's natural heirs likely died in Rand's attack on Graendal, so the country needs an heir).

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The only new thing I've learned in this thread is that Sanderson is a Mormon. This disappoints me. I've always pictured Mormons as the crazy cousins of normal Christians (atheist myself).

 

And there we have the first truly bigoted statement of this entire debate.

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I do not need nor want some pointless side details concerning anyones sexual escapades.

Why assume they will be pointless? Love is, after all, a rather important theme in WoT, which is why there has been so much attention given to 'sexual escapades' previously. I mean, did we really need all that about Mat? What did it add to the story, aside from another dimension for Mat's character? What about Caraline and Darlin? Or, even further down the ladder, Valan Luca's flirtation with Nynaeve? His marriage to Latelle? Obviously, I could go on and on. So what's the problem again?

Hear, hear. Where would we be right now (without love? No, I won't go there) without the Far Snows? Like it or not, it has been a part of tWoT from the get go (Else Grinwell, anyone?)

 

Except that is exactly what I wasn't saying. I am not sure how to continue my points or argue further when Terez takes what is said, and replies by completely reversing the point being made or simply makes up her own argument to it while entirely dismissing the point being made. Look at her replies to what I said, they are either a complete reversal to what I said or framed her answer in a way that is entirely different from and negative to, what I actually said.

 

I absolutely made no reference to getting rid of love or any love scene. "Pointless side detailes concerning sexual escapades" was a point made about including a gay character in the 11th hour just to appease the masses and get down with that which is politically correct. That is all this is about, period. This gay character issue has no other relevance. It is frustrating when people take what is said and then either completely reverse your points or answer in a way that entirely changes what you said.

 

I will elaborate and also answer to some of Terez's replies to me:

 

If you had done more than glance over the posts you might realize that this is not an attempt to be politically correct on Brandon's part so much as it is an attempt to kill two birds with one stone: he has to do a number of things to flesh out the end of the series, so it only makes sense to use a detail that is, by RJ's own account, an overlooked one: there are gay male characters in his world. They have been mentioned before. Also, it is clear to most of us that RJ's heteromale bias had at least a little bit to do with why none of those characters ever became important to the story. Brandon believes that RJ would have eventually corrected that bias himself, and I have a tendency to agree with that. Some might disagree, but either way there's no reason why it should be a problem.

[/Quote]

 

This is re-framing what I said into a "problem." Reframing something your answering is the quickest way to obscure it and then over-ride it with your own thoughts regardless of whether they are even actually replying to what was said. "Clear to most of us" is such a generalized statement that it carries zero weight and also is intended to say, "and obviously not clear to you" which is simply not true...and its not true...even if I don't agree with how this issue is being presented.

 

I entirely disagree with this entire statement. BS is going PC to appease people who are simply using the gay community as a step-off point. The quickest way to see that is by seeing all the buzz words and labels, so quickly tossed at anyone who disagrees. Look at the opinions that don't agree with how this issue is being presented, the are being written off with labels or as clearly wrong.

 

It's not really as hopeless as you make out. Brandon's choice is not the evil pandering that you make it out to be.

[/Quote]

The first sentence is the exact opposite of what I was saying. Evil pandering? Where in the world is that coming from? Not from anything I said. Sounds like Terez disagrees with what I said and is simply blowing it off by using some catch phrase that has likely already been tossed around in this thread or a similar one.

 

And we will get it. No reason to be alarmed.

[/Quote]

I am not alarmed in the slightest. And again, let me be clear, nothing I am saying has anything to do with the story. The opposite is true. I don't want a perfectly epic story changed to include some last minute gay character meant to make the series more PC. The story is fine. We are all here because we share a love for it. I simply dislike presenting such an issue where the PC view is being argued as clearly the only right one and tollerance is expected and intollerance for any other view is perfectly ok. That and it seems to me to be about pushing ones views into a story because one doesn't like how certain things haven't been included.

 

I am sure you are right. It's what happens, when human rights issues progress. After a while, it just isn't socially acceptable any more to discriminate. That's a good thing.

 

And yeah, the gay community is the world's freak show at the moment. It seems to be pretty inevitable, so we might as well get it out of the way now. Putting it off does not amount to some sort of backhanded service to the gay community - it just prolongs the problem.

[/Quote]

 

And therein lies the problem. Did anyone say the gay community was a freak show or even imply it? No. The "freak show" is being pushed onto the gay community by those who are pretending to defend it. They are first basically saying, "ok, we all know the gays are freaks so now I am going to set this all straight." It is harmful to the gay community and as I said, its not fair to them or the readers. You cannot frame a group as a puddle of mud and then pretend to be the stick used to leap over it.

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