1. Dale Carrol

    Dale Carrol New Member

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    Plot?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Dale Carrol, Mar 1, 2017.

    Hi there, I am currently writing a World War One fiction book about a doctor who enlists and goes to war but the soldier is gay. Is this a bit too far fetched?
     
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  2. Whitefire_Nomura

    Whitefire_Nomura Member

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    I wouldn't think so. He just couldnt have been open about it.
     
  3. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    Wasn't Wilfred Owen gay?
     
  4. FrankieWuh

    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Hi Dale

    No, I don't think so. But yeah, he would need to be very quiet about it.

    It's an intriguing premise considering the possibility of not only falling in love with a soldier at the front, but the very real chance seeing that soldier die horribly in the slaughter. Let us know how this goes. Sounds great to me.

    (And welcome to the Forum, btw)
     
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  5. Whitefire_Nomura

    Whitefire_Nomura Member

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    No idea
     
  6. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    I think so, there were certainly letters between Owen and Siegfried Sassoon that would suggest a close relationship (although this might have been unrequited in the romantic sense).

    But as you said, the character couldn't be open about it; in the UK homosexual acts were only legalised in 1967 and Alan Turing was famously prosecuted for gross indecency in the 50's.
     
  7. DueNorth

    DueNorth Senior Member

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    "And" the soldier was gay, not "but"--given that roughly one out of ten men are gay, there were many gay men in WWI (and all other wars). This just strikes me as one character element rather than a major plot point, but perhaps you've got an interesting story to tell about how your main character navigates this complexity in the midst of thehardships of war. I suspect that many men and women at wartime sublimated their sexuality, especially when in relativelyharsh conditions (long hours, horrendous carnage, little sleep) like he might have endured in a military hospital in WWI. Good luck--plots evolve, as do characters.
     
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  8. Shadowfax

    Shadowfax Contributor Contributor

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    Read The Charioteer by Mary Renault. OK, it's WWII, but the theme's the same, and it shows how homosexuality worked when it was illegal, and wartime.
     
  9. Iain Sparrow

    Iain Sparrow Banned Contributor

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    Yes actually, it would be far-fetched.
    Homosexually was illegal, being openly gay in the military at that time was unheard of. Certainly there were gay men who fought in the First World War, as every war, but they would not have dared speak of it and would have gone to great lengths to hide it. That said, half the male population of England is gay... so you still may have a story to tell.
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Not at all far fetched, but I agree with a previous poster that it isn't yet a plot. Also, he almost certainly wouldn't be able to be openly gay.
     
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  11. JE Loddon

    JE Loddon Active Member

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    It's not too far fetched at all, but certainly needs to be handled with care.
     
  12. S A Lee

    S A Lee Contributor Contributor

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    It was illegal to have gay sex in those times, Alan Turing was convicted over it and it is believed by his descendents that this was one of the things that drove him to commit suicide, and he worked through WWII. The law he was charged of breaking, however, was established in 1885 and was upheld until 1967. Scotland and Ireland decriminalised homosexuality in the 80's.

    I don't think any side involved in WWI took to it very well. Admittedly WWII I know a lot better (gays were gassed along with Jews in Nazi Germany) but it is worth noting that the West collectively was predominantly Christian for centuries, and it explicitly says homosexuality is an abomination.
     
  13. QualityPen

    QualityPen Member

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    Wait, what?

    Only 1.8% of men self-identify as homosexual and 0.4% as bisexual. The statistics for women show the same story, except slightly more bisexual and slightly less homosexual. Various polls shift up or down by around one percentage point, but even the popular 10% figure is a myth that was never based on any statistical data.

    I'm not going to go into the reasons why there is such a great disparity between actual amount of homosexuals/bisexuals and the perceived amount so as not to derail the thread, but suffice to say that Iain's estimate is wildly incorrect. No offense intended at all, I just don't want people to have the wrong information.

    That being said, yes, gay men did fight and do all sorts of other jobs during WWI. Homosexuality has been found in every era and every culture, but it did not exist in the open during this time period. Unless you are writing about an extremely secret romance or a longing for a romance that can never be, the story passes past the bounds of reality.

    Keep in mind that the US Army did not allow openly homosexual men to serve until just several years ago. Under previous administrations, men could be discharged from the service if their sexual preference was found out to be male.
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    One other point as a doctor he would almost certainly have been forced into the RMC as doctors were in very short supply and the trench warfare was much bloodier than anything previously encountered, so he probably wouldn't be fighting

    Another thing to be aware of is the 'effeminate' medical officer/ sick bay attendant who is simply appalled by the violence of the nasty nasty straight men arround him is a well worn trope in some sectors of military fiction (Douglas Reeman and James Clavell are both bloody awful for this despite otherwise being good writers) and may well be best avoided

    Perhaps make your gay character (or your other gay character - i assume there are two for a relationship) a hard bitten trench rat with a reputation for fearless bravery, who just happens to be secretly attracted to your doctor ... to swerve the idea that all gays are effiminate pansies.

    The other thing is at that time not only was homosexuality frowned upon as immoral conduct and unpatriotic (there was a predjudice that the german high command were homosexual so gays were ipso facto traitors - abject rubish of course but it prevailed at the time), but the idea that it was okay to be gay in your own head had not yet surfaced, so you would expect a gay man in the forces to be wrestling with his sexuality and his attraction to a comrade rather than simply accepting it
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  15. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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  16. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    There's no reason why you couldn't write that. But I would tread with care.

    This was a very different age. Being gay was illegal and while today we look back and think that's pretty barbaric most people probably supported that at the time. Almost no men in this era would have thought of themselves as gay as we would think about it today either. That's not to say that people weren't gay, just that there was a different societal perception surrounding it. This was a time when men were expected to 'do the decent thing' which meant supporting a wife and a family, and as the war started, to fight for the country, and that superseded their individual desires. So your character probably won't struggle with his sexuality; he'll see it as less important than his job. Even if he's sweet on someone, he'll do his duty first and foremost. That's just how men were brought up.

    There's a reason why upper class children were sent to boarding schools and spent most of their time in the charge of nannies and tutors and very little with their parents. Today that seems so heartless, but there were reasons here. Because, in short, boys were being raised to do their duty. There was plenty of buggery and similar happening in dormitories, and that was turned a blind eye to, but boys were expected to grow out of that and go on to 'normal' lives because really they didn't have a choice. There was no welfare state. Men had to make themselves useful, and for many otherwise unneeded younger sons that meant the services. In so many words, boys were being raised from about five or six to become the kind of person who doesn't flinch in the face of death and won't even duck when people shoot at him. That takes a lot of work. This approach to child raising has obvious flaws, such as creating generations of men who crave their fathers approval and like being spanked, but it's really very successful at creating officers who will do their duty come what may.

    The point here is that while plenty of men in this class have had certain things drummed into them practically from birth including that they are going to marry and have kids whether they like it or not. That includes being very stoic and repressing things that might upset them. Especially while serving in a war being gay is likely not going to be a major part of his life. By all means make him gay, but he probably won't just know that he definitely only likes men. He might feel that, and might catch himself watching soldiers that take his fancy, but he'll squarely hide that away and get back to doing his job.
     
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  17. PirateQueen27

    PirateQueen27 New Member

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    I agree!
     

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