Inclusion of queer characters?

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Homosexuality was removed from the DSM-II in 1973, the same year Tolkien died. So, it is fair to say that for his entire adult life, most of the general public and professional psychologists considered homosexuality to be a disease. There were (obviously) exceptions, notably Kinsey, and there was a reason it was removed (in no small part due to activism demanding it be so). But, it was listed in versions I and II of the Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a pathology by the American Psychiatric Association. Regardless of whether or not it was considered a disease, it definitely is and was considered sinful and disordered to act on homosexual impulses. I am hardly suggesting that we take overly biased researchers from the 1950's seriously. I do think it is important to maintain some awareness of historical context, though, and not just in an 'everything before 1990 was garbage' way. Based on how Tolkien wrote about elves, I could see them considering homosexual desire to be disordered in the same manner that attraction to a close family member (incest) was disordered. Would audiences like that? No, of course not. But that doesn't mean the elves wouldn't behave that way.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the history, there is this overview:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4695779/



As for some of the questions you've raised.... Marriage is, at its heart, the basis of the family unit, and thus the building block of society. Not all married couples have children, and not all children are raised by their biological parents. But one of the main purposes of marriage (from the point of view of a society) is to provide a stable environment for the rearing of children. Now, in our own society, gay couples can be together without being married (just as straight couples can), and many couples (both married and unmarried, gay and straight) participate in childrearing. Many gay couples have children because one or both of the partners has children from a previous relationship, and of course gay couples can adopt, and many have been quite generous in their willingness to adopt children with disabilities who are in need of a great deal of care. One can certainly make the argument (and in fact, the argument was made before the US Supreme Court when gay marriage was legalized) that recognizing marriages between same-sex couples contributes to providing stable homes for children in our nation.

It is more difficult to translate this argument to elvish culture. Elves do not have serial relationships (with the exception of Finwë). Thus, no elf would have children from a prior relationship. If an elf were in a homosexual relationship, that would be their first and only relationship. So, any such relationship would automatically mean no children for those individuals. Now, could they adopt and raise others' children? Certainly, in war time, there would be orphans, so that is something that could happen. Annael raises Tuor, whose parents both died in his infancy. We never hear that Annael had a wife, do we? My comment about 'more appropriate in a post-apocalyptic cultural break down situation' had to do with the fluidity of relationships rather than the permanence of marriage. Storylines in which couples get together and break up frequently, in part fueled by the high death rate of difficult circumstances, are stories in which marriage doesn't have a lot of meaning. Survival requires making and breaking bonds as necessary. Even in a culture which does recognize marriage as rather important, such a disaster bends the rules. A lot. Thus, teenaged Margery Tyrell was on her third marriage in Game of Thrones and had yet to consummate any of them, because despite being married to the king of Westeros, her third husband was just a child. Elves...obviously wouldn't do that.

Obviously plenty of people get married and never have or raise kids. I'm not suggesting that marriages don't count if there's no kids. What I am saying is that a society's understanding of marriage tends to be strongly tied to that society's understanding of childrearing. And so...what impetus would an elvish society have for recognizing a homosexual union? Sure, if it happens, and they are surprised, they could take it in stride. But...we're talking about a very stable culture for which nothing changes for a large chunk of time. They would methodically debate the issue and reach some understanding of what that marriage means for them. And so...what would their conclusion be? And it would have to be consistent with their strict understandings of monogamy, as well as marital fidelity and perpetuity. I wasn't suggesting that they can't accept it, but rather that it is possible that they wouldn't. The idea of denying yourself something that is unlawful would probably seem perfectly fair to the elves.
 
Last edited:

Faelivrin

Well-Known Member
But one of the main purposes of marriage (from the point of view of a society) is to provide a stable environment for the rearing of children.
This seems to be pretty common, if not universal, for human cultures in the real world. I'm not certain, though, that the association would be quite so strong among Elves. They clearly were given both the ability and the desire to have children, for some purpose that probably had nothing to do with preventing Elven extinction. Raising children is described as one of the most enjoyable activities for them. But they also experience a lasting spiritual attachment to the person who they marry, which seems to be valued for its own sake, and remains in full force long after they decide to stop having children.

I think it's fair to say that the focus on having children as a biological necessity is less intense for beings immune to age and disease. (It's also less urgent -- Elrond can afford to wait until he's 3608 years old without worrying about [whatever the male equivalent to menopause is called], or chromosome division problems, or the woman he loves dying of old age or becoming infertile. He likely wasn't _happy_ about waiting so long, and there were other risks -- Celebrian might have sailed West, or been slain by Orcs, or decided to marry some other guy. But Elrond probably didn't have hormones and instincts urging him to reproduce Now, before it's too late! Tolkien did say that Elves normally marry young. But then he also said they normally have children in young adulthood too, and that doesn't really make sense if you look at the Annals of Aman, or consider that Fingolfin is older than Maedhros, so... I'm not convinced that particular statement in "Laws and Customs of the Eldar" is consistent with the historical events.)

If an elf were in a homosexual relationship, that would be their first and only relationship. So, any such relationship would automatically mean no children for those individuals.
Indeed. Just as an Elf's choice of marriage partner is [normally] for all Time, if one chose to marry somebody who could not give them children, they'd both have to live with that decision until the End. This difference from heterosexual relationships would certainly be a noticeable one. And an Elda who both wanted biological children, and wanted to marry/have sex with somebody of the same physical sex as themselves, would be in a tough spot. They'd simply have to choose one or the other -- much like Finduilas was put in a position of choosing between two men whom she loved. That would definitely count as an "ill chance". That may lead to Eldar regarding homosexuals as unlucky/unfortunate just to find themselves in such a situation.

But maybe not every Elf wants biological children very badly. Some never wedded at all. At least, given that Elves have less of a strong reason to crave reproduction for its own sake, some of them might not.

There's also a possibility that Elves help raise their siblings' children, to some extent, or even help raise their own younger siblings. That isn't the same as having one's very own children, of course.

I'm not certain if adoption of non-relatives, or an equivalent of legal adoption in the U.S., exists in Eldarin cultures. Elves have taken foster children, but those children don't seem to have become the legal heirs of their foster-fathers. Granted, none of those children were Elves. Turgon adopts his nephew as his heir, but they were closely related. In any case, they clearly have a concept of fostering orphans, and it's evident that an Elf doesn't have to be married to do so, since Maedhros wasn't married.


My comment about 'more appropriate in a post-apocalyptic cultural break down situation' had to do with the fluidity of relationships rather than the permanence of marriage. Storylines in which couples get together and break up frequently, in part fueled by the high death rate of difficult circumstances, are stories in which marriage doesn't have a lot of meaning.
I wonder to what extent this became the case in Edain cultures during the tail end of the First Age? Certainly there must have been an awful lot of war widows. Is remarriage after your spouse dies an accepted practice in Edain cultures? I can't think of any examples off the top of my head.

Rape apparently did happen among the Edain. In the Narn, there's a scene where it's clear that Androg is trying to rape a Halethian woman, and it's apparent that this is something he and some other outlaws have done several times. That may be the reason (or one of the reasons...) they were outlawed to begin with.

And so...what impetus would an elvish society have for recognizing a homosexual union?
I think they would consider sex to be an act of becoming married, necessarily because of their view of the two as synonymous. I don't think they imagine sex and marriage as separate concepts. That is, I don't think it would occur to them to say that two men (or two women) who had sex together, are not married.

Of course, "Are they married now?" is a separate question from whether Eldar would consider gay sex/marriage to be a good or a bad thing. Or if it is acceptable, equally as valuable or happy as a marriage that can produce children. Or what kind of a wedding, if any, should accompany gay sex/marriage.

But...we're talking about a very stable culture for which nothing changes for a large chunk of time. They would methodically debate the issue and reach some understanding of what that marriage means for them. And so...what would their conclusion be?
I think that, if homosexual attraction is something that any Elves experience, then it would exist from the beginnings of their kind (or at least, it would be just as old as heterosexual attraction, whenever that started happening among them.) So, I don't think it would be anything new -- just as it isn't actually something new among humans.

The Eldarin concept of marriage being synonymous with sex didn't necessarily date back to Kuivienen, so there would potentially have been some development and change of attitudes over time -- about sexual relations in general. There was a time when the Elves existed before any of them had had sex at all, so the first sex (let alone the first pregnancy and childbirth!) must have come as some surprise. (That would be a really interesting event to write a fanfic about, actually.) Having a detailed, formalized philosophy about marriage is surely an Eldarin or Valinorean development. And of course the legal/theological statements in the Statute of Finwe and Miriel only date back to shortly after Miriel died, and were only known in Valinor.

If on the other hand, no Elves ever feel homosexual attraction (because it's unnatural), then they wouldn't hear about it or think about it until somebody told them about homosexual attraction among Mortals. I imagine in that case, their reactions would probably start with squick. Maybe just because any such concept is totally foreign and weird to them, or maybe because (since it's against Eru's laws) they would in fact have an instinct to be grossed out by homosexuality.

My point about homosexual attraction being unnatural, vs. being natural, is tied to Elves being unfallen and immune to disease, "madness", and so forth. If it is against Eru's laws, then Elves would never experience it. Or at most, it would be as unheard-of as Maeglin's desire to rape Idril. Hence, if more than, like, one or two Elves in all of recorded history ever do experience homosexual attraction... then that necessarily means we have changed the setting to make it perfectly OK by Eru's laws. Homosexuality would not be unlawful in that case. And if [our version of] Eru was OK with homosexual relationships, the Valar would be aware of this, and would educate the Eldar (or at least, the Calaquendi) about this, just as they educated them about polygamy being against Eru's laws, and about what happens to an Elf after they die. The Calaquendi, or all Eldar, would be aware that it was not against Eru's laws.

Some Noldor might decide the Valar's opinions about this are stupid... they sure disagreed with Manwe about other stuff, like not killing people. But kinslaying isn't the norm in Noldorin Exile culture. On the other hand, racial prejudice may well be more common among Noldor than kinslaying. I'm sure the Valar tried to teach the Noldor that they are not superior to the Vanyar or Teleri, buuuut, well... we know how that went over with certain characters...


In any case, the Avari might have vastly different attitudes from the Eldar.
 
Last edited:

Haakon

Administrator
Staff member
*Admin/moderator hat on*

Hey people,
I've been asked to look into a couple of threads, including this one, as admin to check out how well we're adhering to our Rules of conduct. There is a feeling that all of us haven't been doing that. In case someone is wondering what those Rules are, you can find them here: https://forums.signumuniversity.org/index.php?threads/rules-of-conduct.2582/#post-20826

I'm not going to criticize anyone. As a matter of fact, I think people as a rule have handled this rather difficult subject quite well and without letting things become too messy. Nevertheless, the discussion has become unnecessarily heated at times. I'm not referring to specific posts now, you will have to find them for yourselves. At this point, I'm just going to ask people to read through the thread and what you've written, read the Rules of conduct, and then read your posts again, and reflect on whether you could maybe have written things differently.

Also, check out this guy. Make him your role model.



 

Emerwen

New Member
First serious post. I know this is from 3 yrs ago but thought I'd throw in my two-cents anyway.
In addition to including LGBTQ+ characters in the show, there's something else we can do to make it less heterosexist and more LGBTQ+ friendly: to tone down the gender essentialism in Tolkien's works.

Here's the definition of gender essentialism from Wikipedia:
"Gender essentialism is a concept used to examine the attribution of fixed, intrinsic, innate qualities to women and men. In this theory, there are certain universal, innate, biologically- or psychologically-based features of gender that are at the root of observed differences in the behavior of men and women. "

Gender essentialism and prejudice/discrimination of LGBTQ+ community often goes hand in hand. When we tone it down, we consequently make our world less hostile for gender minorities.

Although I am aware that Tolkien has expressed some pretty strong gender essentialist view in his letters, I would argue that the nuanced treatment of this issue in his legendarium has allowed us enough space to work around it. On one hand, his depiction of the Ainur is highly gender-essentialist: the Valar and the Maiar's adoption of gender according to their nature as well as their conformity to the norms of their chosen gender might be a sign that Tolkien believed in the connection between gender and nature. On the other hand, his depictions of the Eldar and Edain are strikingly non-gender-essentialist: his liking for female characters who behave outside of the gender norms of their culture (Haleth, Nerdanel, Galadriel and Aredhel, just to name a few) might be a sign that he does not believe that women, at least, have to be attributed certain characteristics according to their gender. On top of that, we have the Laws and Customs of the Eldar which depicts a surprisingly not-so-gender-essentialist culture (although aspects of it is still present), all the more significant given that Eldar are basically idealized humans. My conclusion is that Tolkien is perhaps not the most orthodox of gender essentialists: although he did seem to believe that nature dictates one's gender, he did not believe that one's behaviour has to be constrained within gender norms.

As interpreters, we have the choice to amplify certain things and downplay others, and this is a place to exercise such a choice. Whether or not we decide to actually represent LGBTQ+ characters in the show (I would love to see them if done well), the least we can do is to create a world where gender minorities wouldn't seem out of place or unnecessarily marginalized. For example, we can amplify the defiance of gender norms that is already so abundant in Tolkien's works, and give even the traditionally masculine and feminine characters plenty of nuances. When portraying heterosexual relationships, we should try to base their chemistry more on their personalities and less on cliched notions of masculinity and femininity. In other words: we should not let gender stereotypes flatten our characters or undermine the depth of a relationship. With any luck, we should be able to give off the impression that we the producers are aware of the faults in Tolkien's works, and are subtly making an effort to amend them while remaining faithful to the books.

I am by no means suggesting that this can replace actual LGBTQ+ representation. But just in case actual representation doesn't end up working for whatever reasons, this can potentially be a bottom line to fall back upon. Good thing is we are already doing it anyways.

And personally, Iove the idea of Maglor having a husband in Valinor.
 
Last edited:

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
What does it mean practically?

To have males show typical effiminate behavious and females male stereotypes? Or to add more ambiguity and lessen stereotypes?

I feel so far we have both, but both also is already in the books as well if you look at it.
 

Emerwen

New Member
What does it mean practically?

To have males show typical effiminate behavious and females male stereotypes? Or to add more ambiguity and lessen stereotypes?

I feel so far we have both, but both also is already in the books as well if you look at it.
Sounds pointless to say it, but it essentially means that we should not get lazy with characterization (which I certainly do NOT see this show doing) and substitute personalities with gender stereotypes. This will be easy for major characters, but we need to be especially careful with original/minor characters.
One such example is Shinkai Makoto's Your Name: the two protagonists are nothing more than physical embodiments of gender stereotypes. The guy loves basketball, is impulsive and uses his fists to solve problems. The girl loves knitting, is gentle, sensitive and cries a lot. That's it. There is nothing else to their personalities. As a result their love story is the most boring thing on earth (not to mention a couple terrible male-gaze scenes that are extremely creepy to watch).
Another example is Moffat Era Doctor Who. I lost count of the times he played into that sexy, feisty "strong female character" cliche; for all I know, they could all be the same character. It's simply tiring.
I am by no means suggesting that I'm seeing Tolkien or our show doing anything like this; in fact, I think we are totally on the right track. I'm just pointing out that avoiding such pitfalls will make sure that our show is free of sexist/heterosexist undertones, and more comfortable for women & gender minorities to watch (comfortable in the sense that they don't see real-life discrimination reflected in the show, NOT in the sense that their favourite characters are somehow going to be saved from horrendous and totally pointless deaths).
 

Haerangil

Well-Known Member
Ok. Well one thing i'd like to mention is: gender stereotypes continually change. Captain James T. Kirk in the 60ies was a totally different thing than... i don't even know... he's so oldschool that kind of guy died out in film pretty much completely.

Now our characters are a portemandeau from various eras, theres some renaissance and Borgia in the Feanorians i'd say, some shakespeare too, a lot of medieval , antiquity and biblical similarities, some norse viking edda, some 19th century romantic dandy... the worst thing we could do was normalizing and making fit with what are the stereotypes of our 2020ies...
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I would not want to include anything so jarringly modern that the audience is completely yanked out of Middle-earth. I much prefer to leave interpretation up to the viewer, rather than beat the viewer over the head with some point. I'm okay with conveying season themes explicitly, but not incidental axes to grind.

Speaking of Haleth, though...we are to her part of the story now. When I was writing the script for episode 4, I did my best to convey her character in a way that left things open for the viewer to interpret, rather than making explicit choices. So, 18 year old Haleth makes it rather clear that she has no intention of marrying or having children. That life is not for her. She never shows romantic interest in anyone (male or female). So, what is her deal? Up to the viewer to decide. If they want to view her friendship with Bril as unrequited romantic love, they can. I didn't write it that way, but I also didn't write it so it can't be that way, either. We'll have to see how the Amazon bodyguards come across in Episodes 5 and 6, but I imagine that will be equally open to interpretation.
 

Emerwen

New Member
Ok. Well one thing i'd like to mention is: gender stereotypes continually change. Captain James T. Kirk in the 60ies was a totally different thing than... i don't even know... he's so oldschool that kind of guy died out in film pretty much completely.

Now our characters are a portemandeau from various eras, theres some renaissance and Borgia in the Feanorians i'd say, some shakespeare too, a lot of medieval , antiquity and biblical similarities, some norse viking edda, some 19th century romantic dandy... the worst thing we could do was normalizing and making fit with what are the stereotypes of our 2020ies...
Nah, I'm actually suggesting *not* reducing characters (especially minor/original ones) to stereotypes, whatever culture or time period that is. I'm not saying gender should be taken out of how they are presented on screen; I'm saying that there should be more to each character than the norms of their gender. If we don't get lazy with characterization (which we are not in the slightest), this pitfall can be easily avoided.
 

Rob Harding

Active Member
I don't see any need for them to arrive in the Third Age as Arnorion suggests. I think one concept is that they arrive in the second age (this is what I meant by the advance team). I think a huge stretch of time for lots to have changed, kingdoms to have risen and fallen, before another Istari (say Saruaman for example) meeting them and seeing their current state, is quite a good story tool.

Just because I'm always going to promote by gay-destitute-fisherman-dad version of one of them, I think a frame could be Saruman looking for answers about how to stop evil and him going to the East to look for the Two Blue. And playing out the events I mentioned previously of him finding a palantir...

To have a frame story that flashes back to previous events that the Blue also interweave with could show how they got to the state their are in with one of them telling that story as part of a much larger narrative of ME. And then concluding that story in the frame?

I mean ALL this is entirely going to go out the window I imagine when we get there, but it's fun to speculate about the Two Blue.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Just because I'm always going to promote by gay-destitute-fisherman-dad version of one of them, I think a frame could be Saruman looking for answers about how to stop evil and him going to the East to look for the Two Blue. And playing out the events I mentioned previously of him finding a palantir...
I do not think Tolkien would have accepted gay Maiar - far too much like Greek mythology - which he explicitly did not want to lend from.

The Ainur seldom engage in any activity that would result in binding them permanently in the material world, if they do it has a very important reason - see Melian - who herself found this so unbearable - even if in love with Thingol - that she could not force herself to conceive again after having had Luthien.

But o.k., if you necessary need one, could stomach that - even if I think asexual Istari make far more sense in-story given who they at their core and in their essence.

But the destitute part?

Why would a Maia be destitute? If he decides to be a fisherman, the fish would go where he wants them to? The Ainur are the mighty rulers of Arda. They are not humans who are at odds with nature. Makes no sense whatsoever to me.
 
Last edited:

Rob Harding

Active Member
I don’t super care if Tolkien would have liked it if I’m being entirely honest. His world, not the man himself, is the inspiration for me. The character idea I laid out before has nothing to do with Greek mythology. It’s from a position of love and a simple life. And it’s power to fight back darkness. Very in keeping with Tolkienian themes. Not entirely siding with that argument that Tolkien would perceive same-sex love as the province of Greek myth alone but even if it were the case, the fact Tolkien could have potentially perceived homosexual relationships as primarily drawing from that source would speak more to Britain of the day and the prejudice and persecution that made homosexuality a hidden topic and something Tolkien would (arguably) have perceived as other. It doesn’t really relate to the fact that a character can fall in love and start a family in universe. You’ve pointed to Melian already as precedent. I’m not really interested either in discussing Tolkien’s stance on homosexuality. There’s been a much bigger discussion elsewhere of this in our world. I’d just love to see this simple story of a man who made catastrophic mistakes then finding the way to fight evil may not be raising an army but by raising a family played out and there was no reason in my ‘pitch’ that the love interest couldn’t be male. Besides, if I really have to convince you we shouldn’t feature a same sex relationship then I’ll just say that the Istari are not men. They are embodied as men but their identities are not human or gendered so if anything they are maybe non-binary. So it’s a moot point.

And the reasons behind the poverty and lowliness I’ve laid out elsewhere. It’s a very active choice. Fisherman was plucked as a vocation. Really, something where he works with his hands in a simple down to earth way. The opposite of being a mystic demi-god cult leader. It's an interpretation of the mission.
 
Last edited:

Odola

Well-Known Member
I don’t super care if Tolkien would have liked it if I’m being entirely honest. His world, not the man himself, is the inspiration for me. The character idea I laid out before has nothing to do with Greek mythology.
But in European mythology it very much has.
It is the ancient Greek ideal of "man as the measure of all things" where the male was the ideal of perfection and as such the only really worthy of admiration, and the female was considered to be a lesser version of this lofty ideal. As such see the story of Hyacinth and Apollo or even the story about the "Bird and the Baby" (Zeus' Eagle and Ganymede). As such all those stories are connected to the mythology where lovers - male or female - are often not more than just objects of the hero's passion - very often not considered real agents at all.

It’s from a position of love and a simple life.
Simple?
1. In European prehistory homosexuality's was a privilege of the elites, simple people had no time for that, for them a female and a male adult in a household were a necessity because male and female had completely different roles and skills sets and responsibility areas. One's own sexual satisfaction did not figure in the equation for simple people, they were too busy to survive. There were set festival seasons where one was allowed to pursuits one's passions freely to an extent, but in daily live nobody married for love or for passion and only the wealthy had the leisure to pursue their own satisfaction - mostly outside of an official relationship.

2. Why would a Maia care for a "simple" life? Being incarnated was a chore for them, which they only did take upon themselves to achieve a greater goal. Would a Maia abandon his original task to search his own satisfaction, he would not seek to bind himself further by the laws of nature he originally has been to an extent a master of but try to regain at least a part of this former original mastery?

And it’s power to fight back darkness. Very in keeping with Tolkienian themes.
As far I do remember Aragorn and Sam (and Elrond) deliberately postpone their romantic relationships in order to be able to fight darkness. That seem to be a Tolkienian theme, not the other way round?

Not entirely siding with that argument that Tolkien would perceive same-sex love as the province of Greek myth alone
Male homosexuality was a relatively common motive in Greek mythology as it was an expression of the status and power and sophistication of the active part in such a relationship. The "lover" pursued had to be a minor not to be dishonored by accepting such attentions.
Female homosexuality was mostly overlooked and when even when explicitly mentioned then in passing, as it was not really taken seriously as it had no real societal consequences.

but even if it were the case, the fact Tolkien could have potentially perceived homosexual relationships as primarily drawing from that source would speak more to Britain of the day and the prejudice and persecution that made homosexuality a hidden topic and something Tolkien would (arguably) have perceived as other.
You disregard how passive homosexual acts were regarded as such dishonoring the North of Europe - and this is the imagined cultural space that ME is modeled after - to the extent that a man in the Viking society was obliged by custom to kill anybody accursing him of such an act. To engage another man sexually was a means of permanently dishonor him, not one of appreciation - as such only acceptable to be done to thralls.

The attitude that homosexual usage of an enemy was a means of humiliation in turn would have weighed heavily against men in homosexual relationships: if it was a shameful humiliation of an enemy, performing intercourse with a beloved friend would have been regarded as a the worst sort of betrayal or lack of loyalty (Sørenson 28). Sørenson, Preben M. The Unmanly Man: Concepts of Sexual Defamation in Early Northern Society. trans. Joan Turville-Petre. The Viking Collection, Studies in Northern Civilization 1. Odense University Press. 1983 citied after Internet History Sourcebooks Project (fordham.edu)

It doesn’t really relate to the fact that a character can fall in love and start a family in universe.
But this is not a lifegoal of an Ainu. He really not even is "an character" for real - as he does not need to "grow". This is a task for the children of Eru and while Ainur can be made to resemble one they never really are one.

You’ve pointed to Melian already as precedent.
Yeah, and here we see how unnatural such a context for a Ainu is. "Starting a family" is a its core foreign to an Ainu. So much than even if determined to engage in it to accomplish an important mission - even then in the end it is a task too heavy to bear. While would any engage in it for no real reason?

I’m not really interested either in discussing Tolkien’s stance on homosexuality.
Fine enough. Still it is his universe and some modern days' question simply have no place in it.

There’s been a much bigger discussion elsewhere of this in our world.
Exactly - our world. Not ME.

I’d just love to see this simple story of a man who made catastrophic mistakes then finding the way to fight evil may not be raising an army but by raising a family played out and there was no reason in my ‘pitch’ that the love interest couldn’t be male.
By pretending to be something he is not? How so?

Besides, if I really have to convince you we shouldn’t feature a same sex relationship then I’ll just say that the Istari are not men.
I am against any sexual relationship for the Istari. I consider any such action as simply completely outside of their sphere of interest. They are not born, they have no bloodlines, they have no families.

They are embodied as men but their identities are not human or gendered so if anything they are maybe non-binary. So it’s a moot point.
Exactly - and as they are the "demi-gods" - as such always the senior part in any relationship - and have accepted a male form and a perceived as male by its surroundings - they would per default be dishonoring any male partner by engaging sexually with him. Not an act of friendship.

And the reasons behind the poverty and lowliness I’ve laid out elsewhere. It’s a very active choice. Fisherman was plucked as a vocation. Really, something where he works with his hands in a simple down to earth way.
Does not fit what an Ainu is. A human might choose to be a hermit. It is one of the ways to prepare for a mortal death (or to seek enlightenment). A active way to come to term with one's mortality (or to overcome one's mortal limitation of understanding). The Istari can be killed but they are not mortal. They are as bound to Arda as the elves are. And they start off enlighted - they cover it for a while while quasi-incarnate - but enlightenment is actually a hinderance to their mission - a hinderance which they have voluntarily laid down. They cannot regain it by just using human means.

The opposite of being a mystic demi-god cult leader. It's an interpretation of the mission.
By pretending to be a human which they never really can become? Again, what would be the point?
 
Last edited:

Rob Harding

Active Member
I’m really not interested in a discussion of real world historical prejudice against homosexuality as a pretext to not include it. Especially not using primarily Western attitudes or acting as though homosexuality or the acceptance of it is modern. No thanks. Not getting into it.

As I said, the discussion about how homosexual relations fits into OUR world (as in, the world we have created) has happened elsewhere (notably in conversation around Beleg and Mablung - who I personally ship FYI). But I’m honestly not interested in continuing that discussion here. I’m putting a story element out there, that being, choosing love and family as a fulfillment of the mission. I’m not saying hiding oneself away is the correct choice. It’s as much a steering from purpose as Radaghast. But like Radaghast, it’s complicated by being understandable. As I say, the entire thing likely won’t be picked up. The fact that one small element of the choice of partner I proposed is being picked up on by you and can’t just be accepted is frankly a much bigger issue. The fact you don’t think Melian ‘dishonours’ Thingol but in my example it would be is just…let’s not. I don’t want to get into this any further.

This entire conversation has been around how the Istari would differently interpret their mission. How seeing mortal lives could affect them. And how they’d lose sight of their mission. And in what ways that could be played out. I posited that one may see mortals living simple lives as it’s own form of fighting against the darkness and after renouncing being a violent military ruler might instead chose a quiet life as a way of fulfilling their purpose. I feel you haven’t read all my posts on this idea. I’m purposely proposing different ways they interpret a mission without parameters. How they, over many MANY years evolve and change. Let’s approach this from a character-driven story perspective within our universe, not trying to stick to a personal interpretation of what influenced Tolkien and what ideologies should be beholden to. Let’s stay on topic and leave personal moral stances to one side and talk about what drives these specific characters.
 
Last edited:

Odola

Well-Known Member
I’m really not interested in a discussion of real world historical prejudice against homosexuality as a pretext to not include it. Especially not using primarily Western attitudes or acting as though homosexuality or the acceptance of it is modern. No thanks. Not getting into it.
While you might not be interested in it it is still part of the cultural package. You cannot put a modern graphic card into a Commodore 64 and expect it to work. The former view of homosexual behavior was a direct result of the idea what a male hero is, the ideal of virility, and the importance of preserving bloodlines. Same in ancient Far East - once a man had sired legitimate children by his official wife and/or concubines he could have lovers of any gender as he saw fit as long as he was discreet about it.

But same-sex relationships were never considered "families". Having such one presented would be akin to have a petrol station next to their dwelling place - completely anachronistic.

You cannot keep the one element of Tolkien's story like the Northern heroic tradition and then plant a completely other element next to it in the same context. Will not work.

As I said, the discussion about how homosexual relations fits into OUR world (as in, the world we have created) has happened elsewhere (notably in conversation around Beleg and Mablung - who I personally ship FYI).
O.k. you mean our rendition of Tolkien's world. Missunderstood you here.

But I’m honestly interested in continuing the discussion here. I’m putting a story element out there, that being, choosing love and family as a fulfillment of the mission.
How do? An Ainu is not a human and human life goals are not his tasks. This would be like a human in a Halloween bat costume deciding to literally live like a bat - ridiculous and harmfull - both to himself and to the poor bat colony involved.

I’m not saying hiding oneself away is the correct choice. It’s as much a steering from purpose as Radaghast. But like Radaghast, it’s complicated by being understandable. As I say, the entire thing likely won’t be picked up. The fact that one small element of the choice of partner I proposed is being picked up on by you and can’t just be accepted is frankly a much bigger issue. The fact you don’t think Melian ‘dishonours’ Thingol but in my example it would be is just…let’s not. I don’t want to get into this any further.
Melian is imho at the very verge of dishonouring herself. We see how she allows herself to be treated. This is on the verge of auto-agressive. But that is another matter - the whole Ainu plot involving Melian seducing Thingol is morally questionable and he is being partially taken advantage of - to a degree. Maybe this is why he ends of so disregarding towards any of Melian's further attempts to influence him. I myself have no problem to discuss this - if needed.

This entire conversation has been around how the Istari would differently interpret their mission. How seeing mortal lives could affect them. And how they’d lose sight of their mission. And in what ways that could be played out. I posited that one may see mortals living simple lives as it’s own form of fighting against the darkness and after renouncing being a violent military ruler might instead chose a quiet life as a way of fulfilling their purpose.
Mortals do not "live simple lives" to fight darkness. They live simple lives because that is all their enviroment allows them. Is a part of "playing dead" - "if we are nothing special and have nothing special maybe evil will put us at the bottom of its to-do list and we manage to die before our turn comes". A valid strategy for mortals. Not one for an Istar.

There is nothing special about living a simple life - you might stay powerless enough to never be able to do great evil worldwide, sure, still you are completely capable of turning your close circle's life into living hell - see Gollum.

I feel you haven’t read all my posts on this idea. I’m purposely proposing different ways they interpret a mission without parameters. How they, over many MANY years evolve and change. Let’s approach this from a character-driven story perspective within our universe, not trying to stick to a personal interpretation of what influenced Tolkien and what ideologies should be beholden to. Let’s stay on topic and leave personal moral stances to one side and talk about what drives these specific characters.
I still think you treat the Istari as mortals. They are not. Their trajectory is completely different. Their origin is different, their essence is different, their mode of existance is similar but not the same. Their outlooks and goals are too. They are not equal to the people around them and never can become such - even if they would have tried.
 
Last edited:

Rob Harding

Active Member
Fine.

Im still not sure you fully understood the point I was trying to make with the story concept as some of your reasons not to include it were precisely the points I was trying to make. I’m not sure I can explain it more fully, so won’t try. If others find merit and want to explore, the ideas are there.

Im not sure of your general feelings of including homosexual characters in the story but I get the sense it’d be hard pass in any instance so again, don’t feel any headway would be made so won’t continue that conversation either.

I don’t really understand the hesitance to include a spread of relationships but there you are.
 
Last edited:

Arnorion

Active Member
we should not get lazy with characterization (which I certainly do NOT see this show doing)
I'm all for interesting characters depicted in thoughtful and nuanced ways, irrespective of how the questions regarding sexuality in our adaptation are decided. I have always viewed my sex and gender as descriptive of who I am, but neither prescriptive nor proscriptive. I hope that our characters will have that liberty as well.

Also, thanks for contributors participating in this discussion with care. Now I'm going to follow the advice of @Haakon and read those rules of conduct that I just found out about. Cheers to all!
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Fine.

Im still not sure you fully understood the point I was trying to make with the story concept as some of your reasons not to include it were precisely the points I was trying to make. I’m not sure I can explain it more fully, so won’t try. If others find merit and want to explore, the ideas are there.
If you feel I did not understand it then it is imho a pity that you refrain from further explaining it. I simply do not see how making the Istari sexual in any sense would serve the story and how if would be made part of "fighting the darkness".

Im not sure of your general feelings of including homosexual characters in the story but I get the sense it’d be hard pass in any instance so again, don’t feel any headway would be made so won’t continue that conversation either.
Some characters very well might be but I do not see how this would be really much visible in a story in Tolkien's world. Sexuality - if not made visible by marriage or attempted marriage - is not something really shown in Tolkien's world. Some people stay unmarried, some have strong same sex friendships but more than that would not really be visible to the audience imho. People are generally less focussed inwardly and on "being themselves" but more outwardly and on performing deeds of greatness in his stories.

I don’t really understand the hesitance to include a spread of relationships but there you are.
Generally beyond the Mariner's Wife the relationship angle is seldom really explored deeply in detail in Tolkien and even there it has a relevance for the Numenor's downfall story.

If you insist on some other kinds of relationships to be shown imho they should serve the story and not feel random or out of place in their cultural settings. In most cases this would be a tragic story which would have some far reaching consequences for the rest of the plot - akin to the Finduilas - Turin story.

Or you would need to create a local culture with a historic fell to it where same sex couples are considered "family" - imho such a solution would need a lot of world-building and a huge plot reason to be warranted.

But still - Istari I just cannot see involved in any kind of such relationship if not really going against what they really are. Given their status as higher beings any sexual relationship on their part - except among themselves - would border on sexual exploitation of minors and dependants anyway.
 
Last edited:

Kathrin

Well-Known Member
Maybe this has been mentioned already, but: Given we don't have any accounts of the blue istari that necessarily determine what form they took in ME (My opinion is that both their names and the descriptions of the Istari over all (as somewhat elder Men) could as well have been given by ppl who exclusively know Radagast, Saruman and Gandalf. (Also, Men could also refer to them simply looking mannish, not elvish or dwarvish) So I feel like casting the two blue wizards not necessarily as two men is not even explicitely canon-divergent, really.

(This is totally not in service of my Makar and Méassë conspiracy theory no sir xD) No, but kidding aside, I think this is a case where i wouldnt even speak of genderbending more than "not defaulting to male in absence of text that says otherwise"

And since this is a thread of inclusion of queer characters, i ofc could also see a blue istari with a not traditionally binary gender presentation as well, however they would present themselves in our world. Also to the discussion about relationships: It would be an option too to have a recognisably queer person that isn't instantly coupled up, especially if that person is a maia and has maybe set themselves clear boundaries on that subject.
 
Last edited:
Top