I received some time ago a comment which stopped me in my tracks. I went back and forth on this, trying to work out my own thoughts on the subject, and to be honest I’m not sure I came to any solid conclusions other than ‘it’s not been presented that way before.’ Anyway, here’s a the comment and my reply.
First I wish to say, that I loved your books, especially Morathi was potrayed even better than I hoped. But I also hope I dont offend you if I say that there were lot of cliches, stereotypes and predictable events.
This brings me to my question. Basically I wish to know more about Elven homosexuality in wahrammer and censorship in GW/BL. Most fans get furious when I suggest I imagine Elves as pagans with very different view on sexuality.
I find it very curious that druchii who are often compared to Sparta and Rome, are according to most too ,,macho” pseudodarwinists to tolerate homosexuality, despite huge importance of homosexuality in both those warlike cultures. In case of extremelly hedonistic Druchii and sophisticated Asur this seems even more absurd.
Fans get even more angry when I suggest I imagine Malekith (and perhaps all Elves) as being quite bisexuall. Its not just that Malekith the Great reminds me so much of Alexander the Great and Gaius Julius Caesar (both bisexuall), it also seems natural to me that a mortal with such a long lifespan would surely experience some homoerotic affairs.
Am I wrong if I see GW as being similiar to Blizzard when it comes even to mere homoerotic references? On one hand GW is not afraid to sell completely naked harpies, witches in g-strings and daemonettes with six naked breasts as well as referencing to incestuous relationship between Malekith and Morathi and cross-breeding between different species, but is reluctant to make even slightest reference to existence of homosexuality.
I am not some childish gay person who demands to have such themes in every piece of art, its just that in warhammer fiction this phenomenon really lowers the potential for depth and credibility. It is especially obvious when it comes to any lore associated with Slaanesh and your description of athartists. Trying to bring such a natural feature (with huge importance on peoples behavior and fates) out of existence is like creating a world without gravity.
Otherwise I really like your work and I just hope I shall know thanks to you what to expect from GW in the years to come regarding this matter.
Sorry for taking so long to reply – I’ve been busy with travels and deadlines and didn’t want to rattle off something short and glib. You raise a very interesting point, and one that I’ve had to think about very carefully before replying.
Are there gay elves?
Yes, would be my overall reply, but though your examples from pagan cultures would make sense in the context of elven culture, I do not see their sexual society being as close to those you cite, simply from the few examples we have to look at. While the logic of what you say stands up, I simply don’t think this was what was intended when the early background of the elves was being written. The comparison with Athens and Sparta is a rough shorthand at best, particularly to highlight Nagarythe’s militarisation compared to a mainly citizen levy from other states; and also to present the political influence of Nagarythe and Caledor over the other, ostensibly independent, elven kingdoms. In other aspects – slavery most prominently – elven society is substantially different. There seems nothing to suggest that the distinction between adult, sexually active elven males and everything else – the basis for Greek sexuality at the basic level – exists within Ulthuan’s culture.
The only real background we have regarding elf sexual politics comes via the Everqueen. We know that the Phoenix King is required to sire the next Everqueen, but after this their relationship is purely formal (Aenarion notwithstanding). The only other relationship we have to compare is Prince Tyrion as the Everqueen’s consort, which suggests a more high medieval, courtly love than the culture of classical pagans. With that said, I don’t imagine there to be any particular stigma attached to homosexuality within elven society, and it may well be prevalent as you say.
A particular difficulty is that any special emphasis on homosexuality for Warhammer elves, as opposed to any other races, would feed into the juvenile view held by some that they wear dresses, are effeminate and, in a derogatory way, are gay. To include one homosexual elf in a story might smack of tokenism, while to explore it it more depth would be difficult within the scope of a Warhammer novel – just as exploring any other facets of sexual society is difficult given the guidelines for content that exist with Black Library. Creating the correct sort of context to explore these issues is tricky unless it is to be one of the main themes of a story, and cowardly though it may seem, it is not one I feel suitably skilled to present properly. Well, not until I’ve had a chance to think on it some more.
I’ll end by saying that I don’t think Black Library has any policy against portrayal of homosexuality any more than any other type of sexuality, but we all write from our own experiences and worldview and, as far as I know, as a bunch of straight authors we’ve simply stuck close to what we know.
It’s been a long time since I’ve had to consider an answer to a question as involved as this, and it has made me think a lot about the assumptions I have made through my own writing. Thank you for that.