1. WaitingCynicism

    WaitingCynicism New Member

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    Balancing History With Accuracy

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by WaitingCynicism, Sep 6, 2019.

    Hello everyone! Apologies if this post could be considered too political/religious/controversial.

    I am working on a tabletop / novel setting and I feel like I have run into some problems (at least for the tabletop portion). I feel like when I run a campaign in the setting, I'd want to run it in such a way that LGBT+ people are accepted, can get married, etc. Yet I know that the actual Middle Ages was anything but LGBT+ friendly. Is there a way I can balance both historical accuracy and the fictional aspects of medieval ages being homophobic?
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    It really depends who they are and where - it didn't give Richard the Lionheart many problems.

    another option is to make it fantasy where what you say goes
     
  3. WaitingCynicism

    WaitingCynicism New Member

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    Right now the setting is 1150 England. I wouldn't want much, if any, magic in the setting
     
  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    realistically your only option there is alternate history if you want to make them fully accepted members of society

    alternately you don't have to be actively homophobic in an accurate story as its not necessary to make persecution a main theme if you don't want - many books set in that time period do not mention it at all
     
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  5. WaitingCynicism

    WaitingCynicism New Member

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    Yeah, it is alternate history, albeit with the Arthurian myths being real, which I would say fall under fantasy. Persecution isn't going to be a huge theme in it.
     
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  6. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Gay Souffle Contributor

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    Another thing to remember is that - as Moose alluded to - there was a certain amount of ability to fly under the radar. I'm a bit hazy on this period, but throughout history there are stories of people entering heterosexual marriages and carrying on homosexual affairs. Of course, it would have been easier for the rich, since they would have more rooms to disappear to and wouldn't have to work as much, but it you were with your husband when he needed you to look good, and you had babies for him, why should be care if you spent a bit too much time with a particular female companion?
     
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  7. WaitingCynicism

    WaitingCynicism New Member

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    True, I was thinking though that most people would be neutral or supportive: like "okay, great, if you are happy that's great, there are more important things to deal with than if two dudes are married and sleeping together"
     
  8. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Gay Souffle Contributor

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    Well, if we're going for a society as religious as the Middle Ages, it was a huge deal because it was seen as going against God. They're going to go to Hell! They're in complete defiance of nature! And one of the reasons religion was so important to them is that they didn't have a lot else to explain how the world worked. But I suppose if the Arthurian legends are real, all the magic and stuff might throw religion out the window anyway.
     
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  9. WaitingCynicism

    WaitingCynicism New Member

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    Right, though I was thinking the setting was low magic - I might just say theology developed differently, or just rule of cool it and say "I enjoy history but not the homophobia from it." I feel like rule of cool wouldn't really be helpful, though?
     
  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    in general lesbianism was less frowned upon than male homosexuality.. women could not marry but society was relatively tolerant of two "spinsters" living together...until they came to the witch trial period, but that was later.

    For male homosexuals it wasnt that unusual for rich men to have younger companions who they 'mentored' (some of which may have been innocent, but some were undoubtedly homosexual) or for men who were away from women for example in monasteries or in the forces to form male/male attachments ...generally the giver would not have considered his actions to be homosexual, and these older rich men would likely also have been married to women.

    A man who was manly - a good warrior, forester, hunter etc could probably have got away with the occasion homosexual liaison, but a man who was effeminate would have been far more likely to wind up being tortured for heresy unless of course he had a powerful protector.
     
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  11. WaitingCynicism

    WaitingCynicism New Member

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    Alright - none so far have come across as especially effeminate, but I'll keep that in mind. Some people might be judgemental after all, but most don't care in setting
     
  12. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributor Contributor

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    Your alternate history, your rules. If you're already changing things enough to add Arthur and a bit of magic, I don't feel like you need to worry about the realism of the time period being LGBT-friendly.
     
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  13. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    And never forget the story of Edward II.
     
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  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Also homosexuality would have been a weakness enemies would exploit in the powerful who had already fallen - vis for example edward 2 who died from having a hot poker shoved up his arse (allegedly, there is some doubt)... but he wasn't deposed because he was gay, he was deposed because he fell out with france, spain and powerful barons - having been deposed his alledged homosexual relationship with piers gaveston was then used against him (and yeah i know 1327 is later than you are talking about anyway)
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
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  15. WaitingCynicism

    WaitingCynicism New Member

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    Thanks guys!
     
  16. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    But this again depends on area and the culture, I know it's not England, but Byzantium during the time period was ... not overly welcoming, but at least more tolerant than England was. And though there are mixed notes (because there always is when religion is involved) it seems the for the most part, Jewish people were okay~ish with homosexuality. A few texts state that though there is a tradition against it, it wasn't any worse than operating an elevator on the Sabbath and "since the Talmud (Hullin 4a and 5a) clearly teaches that one who repeatedly violates a particular commandment out of inner compulsion rather than to flout the tradition is to be considered a functioning member of the community. Rambam [Maimonides] accepts this (Hilkhot Teshuva 3:9) by excluding such violators from his list of apostates." Seeing as England was a fairly diverse place, what with trade and the crusades having just happened, not to mention the whole diaspora thing, it's possible the community your characters are a part of wouldn't' share the same values of the church. Adding how decentralized the nation was at the time, if you had a gay couple, it could possibly written to only become a problem for them if they decide to travel or a new priest comes to town.
     
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  17. WaitingCynicism

    WaitingCynicism New Member

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    Especially, yeah! I hadn't planned on having discrimination or prejudice be a major theme in this one (at least), but maybe if I do an earlier novel in the setting (like with King Arthur, as I had said before), that might be a minor theme in it. Thanks!
     
  18. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 Member Supporter

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    From a realistic point of view, it depends on the level and segment of society.

    In Elizabethan England, actors were all male. Female parts were usually played by young boys, and there would, no doubt, have been some homosexul activity going on - actors weren't very highly regarded, most being considered one step above prostitutes.

    And in the upper echelons of society, aristocracy may have had a male "companion" (e.g. Edward II and Piers Gaveston). They would have faced rumour and innuendo, and their enemies would certainly have used it against them, but if they had enough political support, they could bat it to one side.

    In any all-male group, you will inevitably find some homosexual activity, especially in groups that require high levels of male bonding - this is especially true in warrior societies, such as the Spartans, the Thebans and the Japanese.

    You could postulate a revival of classical culture in your setting. The Greeks considered male love the purest form of love, as evidence by the tale of Ganymede (although this fact isn't actually true) and as I mentioned, the Thebans had an elite unit called the Sacred Band, which consisted of 150 pairs of male lovers. They were destroyed by Phillip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, who himself may have had a male lover.
     
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  19. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    This just reminded me of the Tragedarians in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.
     
  20. aModernHeathen

    aModernHeathen Banned

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    Well, history was maybe a little more understanding toward different sexuality than common perspectives might have you believe.

    Start here...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_history#The_Middle_Ages

    Maybe talk about an area or period that was at least a little more understanding toward the LGBT+ folks, then take a few of those literary liberties that us writers love. From there, you'll have a piece of what someone might be able to call historical fiction.
     
  21. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter Contributor

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    What audience are you targeting, and what are you trying to achieve through historical accuracy? Unless you specifically want a crowd who is interested in real history, I'd say go for the anachronisms. And don't just write around them, make a point of them. It's a way to make your work more unique.
     
  22. Gallogladh

    Gallogladh Member

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    In theory.

    That's about all that needs to be said on that ;)
     
  23. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

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    This. There's a certain kind of crowd that moan about historical accuracy and they're almost always bores. If you're not targeting them then don't bother; they'll always be something to nitpick and it's rarely consequential.
     
  24. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Gay Souffle Contributor

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    Personally, I think historical accuracy is important. IMO, if you pick a time period, you're picking every aspect of that time period, and that is necessary to make the reader feel like they are there. Otherwise, why not just set it in the modern day? My point to @WaitingCynicism is that there are ways to get around his problem while still being historically accurate - gay people have always existed, after all. And if it's alternative history, he has a certain amount of leeway anyway.
     
  25. aModernHeathen

    aModernHeathen Banned

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    Like I mentioned above, certain periods of history were a lot more understanding of the LGBT+ community than common modern narratives might have you believe. You could probably write and LGBT+ story in the Medieval times for example and still be pretty damn accurate, historically.
     

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