Tuesday, February 18, 2014

LGBT History - and My Culpability

Tom Williams welcomes Christopher Hawthorne Moss for a very good post, looking at another "invisible" population in history (and contemporary historical writing).  One of the personal conflicts I had in writing The Ax and the Vase, along with the fact that it's yet another European royal, is that the sole glimpse of a gay relationship is pretty graphically negative.  I could have rewritten the pejorative legend of Ragnachar, I could have found another way to handle it - but ... I didn't.  He was an archetypal villain in all the sources, and as I felt my way around the limits of the "fiction" in my historical fiction, somehow I just did not find the time to redeem this character.

This isn't a small matter of passing guilt, either.  It's something I have contemplated for years now, and something I hope to be able to address and to face with readers and with the world I live in - both explicitly and by a more general example.  I also expect to find more freedom in future works, not least because (at least at the moment) I don't have any more novels which will be written first-person from the POV of a ... well, a bigoted white king.  Clovis had charisma - and I consider his story necessary and fascinating - but let it not be said he suffered from a gapingly open mind, by the standard I expect of myself.

Even as much as I believe in Ax, I believe that this part of it - that accepting the historical propaganda against the one character who indulged non-heterosexuality - is problematic, and I expect to answer for it as Ax comes out.  In the meantime, consider Moss's work - and Tom's.  And give me time.  If I don't redeem Ragnachar, maybe I can redeem myself with future works.

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