Homosexuality in WoLaS - a new poster's perspective

originally posted by Clansman

You're kidding about Sam, right? I am taking your comment as satirical, but I could be wrong. You may really mean it.

originally posted by Meredith Lee Gray

Kharadmon had a woman he was in love with on his home planet… I really fail to see any evidence that there was anything more than merry rivalry between the two of them… Evidence?

originally posted by Stephen Kenneally

Wow, even I didn't think Kharadmon OR Luhaine were gay, so I'm assuming that post is joking.

originally posted by DarthJazy

Where as I could laugh at the sam and frodo reference I know they are not gay frodo golim were hehe jk. I have seen to many spoofs where they are gay lol. Kharadmon and Luhaine? dont make me laugh there was a whole chapter where drakar sees the woman he was in love with and can nolonger even say her name. i gues syou could look at that as that turned him gay but thats a stretch.

originally posted by hosanna

I thought I replied here but it has disappeared - maybe I hit preview but forgot to click post. Anyway, just to let you know. I've read Lord of the Rings once only. Enjoyed it yes but not a mega fan. I was serious in my interpretation. Not that I thought Tolkien meant it to be read that way but that maybe subconsciously he'd provided enough to hang the conclusion on. One bit I remember near the end when Sam thought Froddo was dead he was crying over his body and it said that he kissed his face. It just seemed beyond friendship to me. friend would certainly cry, hold his hand and so on but … anyway I only mentioned it because Meredith Lee Gray wrote this:
"Her writing reminds me of The Lord of the Rings, the way Tolkien wrote of the relationships between his main characters, pretty much all men. There were many deep, loving friendships written into that story. I doubt it ever occurred to anyone at the time to think that there was anything between Frodo and Sam, Merry and Pippin, Aragorn and Boromir or Legolas, except platonic love and friendship, but in our modern era, a lot of people look at that relationship speculatively and ship them into gay couples, either for laughs or in dead earnest."

seemed relevant to put my hand up honestly and say I read it that way.

Anyway, regarding Kharadmon … oops! So much complexity in these books I'd forgotten that detail about his lost love. Maybe Luhaine is putting out the gay vibe and the K Man got bundled in in my head. They do seem to bicker like an old married couple!

originally posted by Meredith Lee Gray

There's a lot of face-kissing in Middle Earth when people die.

Well I won't re-state my opinions on that, since you kindly copied and pasted them again. :wink:

I respectfully disagree 1,000% about Luhaine and Kharadmon. I mean, yes, they bicker. But I don't think it's disguising sexual tension. These guys have been together, working side-by-side for thousands and thousands of years. They're practically family. They're bound to squabble. And Kharadmon clearly enjoys baiting Luhaine. A favorite diversion.


originally posted by Clansman

Hosanna, I'll state my bias up front, so you can take my comment for what it is worth. Also, fasten your seat belt, because this is going to be a long post. I apologize in advance for any errors, as I am doing this from memory. Also, because I fear that I may be accused of this, I am not homophobic, nor do I in any way offer comment on any particular sexual preference. I have made no secret of my faith in this forum before, but I love my gay sisters and brothers in humanity as much as I love my straight ones. I am no better than they. Everyone is good enough for Jesus, and that is good enough for me. I do not share the beliefs of certain members of my faith who have twisted the truth of Jesus' existence in order to condemn people. He came to save, not condemn. 'Nuff said on that point.

I have read The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, each at least seven times. I read the first two again after the movies came out, to compare them more clearly. I have also read Unfinished Tales several times, plus I own, though have not read all of it, The History of Middle Earth (12 volumes). Suffice to say, that I am not only a Tolkien fan, I consider myself something of an amateur Tolkien scholar, or at least a rather educated Tolkien fan. In my opinion, no one came along in the fantasy genre to touch his work until Janny started WoLaS. Robert Jordan and Ray Feist came close, but Tolkien's world was so complete, as is Janny's, that I was swept away into another existence when I read his works. There was so much substance behind the writing, that it felt like you were reading historical narrative instead of the typical sword and sorcery schlock that came after Tolkien.

I appreciate that not everyone likes the same things, and not everyone could enjoy LOTR as I did. Heck, I was made fun of so often in high school that I often hid when I was reading one of my "airy fairy" books (yes, that is really a quote). I am glad that you at least enjoyed LOTR, and I certainly do not expect everyone who reads it to be a mega fan.

However, I think you are guilty of historicism in your interpretation of Frodo and Sam's relationship. You are imposing your 21st century experience on a story that was commenced in 1918 (not the actual book, but the building of Middle Earth). Tolkien was born in the late 19th century, was quite conservative socially (though not necessarily politically), and was a staunch catholic. He was also, like most of his generation, a veteran of the trench warfare of the Great War, a.k.a. World War I, which, for soldiers, was the worst war in history with a level of carnage that was unprecedented, and has not been seen since. Most of it was vicious hand-to-hand combat. Tolkien experienced the close bond that occurs between people who share prolonged horrific experiences, and knew enough from his own personal experience to write about that kind of bond. This is the bond shared by Frodo and Sam, and most of the male characters in LOTR.

The idea that Tolkien would write a homosexual relationship, even subconsciously, has no basis in the evidence of his experience or his perspective.

The relationship that Tolkien wrote of in LOTR is similar to the relationships that veterans cite. Once in sustained combat, some soldiers love each other completely, because they depend so much on each other for survival. They survive through an impossible, horrible situation, and lose the closest of friends along the way. Frodo and Sam do the same. All of the regular garbage is stripped away from their relationship, as they realize that without each other, they will die, along with their mission to save Middle Earth by destroying the Ring. They are desperate to succeed, and are willing to sacrifice everything in the end, not just for each other, but for all that they love in the world. This is what bonds them, not romantic love or sexual love.

I would suggest that Sam loves Frodo just as I and others have posted herein how Sulfin Evend loves Lysaer. Incidentally, I just read in SF (no spoiler, not really) how Vhandon is awed by Lysaer's beauty and charisma, and is made aware how easily he could have been swayed had he not known what he did.

This close kind of love between men is rarely written or spoken of in the post-modern era, because it is so easily misunderstood as being homosexual. Nevertheless, these "intense brother-love by experience" relationships continue to exist, particularly between men who have shared a horrific experience, and supported each other through it.

Supposing that Frodo and Sam shared a sexual longing for each other is falling into the trap that pervades modern society when two people of the same sex share a close relationship ("They must be gay!"). Meredith pointed this out in her first comments above. Men who are actually blessed to share that kind of relationship won't brag about it, for fear of being labeled homosexual when they are not. There is still a stigma for many men in this regard, and to deny that this stigma exists is to deny reality. It shouldn't exist, but alas, it does. However, in days of yore, these close relationships were bragged and boasted of, because it was assumed without question that the friendships were platonic and non-sexual. Sex was not even a consideration.

Incidentally, I agree with Meredith that Janny too writes these kinds of relationships fearlessly. They are what they are, and do not need to be made into anything more.

I (except in satirical works) believe that generally the first and obvious interpretation is probably the right one. Read it at face value first, before looking for hidden meaning. Tolkien himself got rather peeved at people trying to read too much meaning into the Lord of the Rings (i.e. social commentary into the state of England after WWII (see "The Scouring of the Shire", which didn't make the movie version)). Had he lived to hear homosexual speculation about Sam and Frodo, Tolkien likely would have considered comment on the subject beneath his dignity. I submit that Tolkien was simply not capable of considering a homosexual relationship when he wrote the story, and that his background and experience certainly did not leave room for any male sexual interaction. I further submit that Tolkien wrote the relationship "straight", because there was no other way to write it.

I would also point out that there were other intense bonds between males in the LOTR. Legolas and Gimli shared a similar bond to that of Frodo and Sam, but that as they were not the lead characters, we don't have the close description that we do of the hobbits who ventured into Mordor. And what of Merry and Pippin? They certainly showed their closeness to each other as well, especially while in the hands of the Uruk-Hai running across Rohan. But Merry and Pippin did not go through the hell that was Mordor, or of bearing the Ring, and were also separated during the siege of Minas Tirith, and even after, when Pippin went north, and Merry stayed at Minas Tirith to recover from stabbing the Witch King of Angmar. Finally, Frodo left Sam, because the longing of his heart lay elsewhere. Though Sam also left for Valinor, it was much later, after he had buried his wife and passed the Red Book of Westmarch on to his daughter. Sam chose to spend his life with his wife, not Frodo, and he had no idea that he too would one day sail to Valinor. (this last point was totally lost in the movie)

The point that I am trying so verbosely to make is that we really must avoid judging the past by our present standards and societal trends. I think I made this point before in another thread. A book written during the 1940's must be taken in that context, and in its author's context. To do otherwise leads to error.

(This being said, people are free to take whatever they wish from art, whether written, sung, painted, sculpted or otherwise. Janny said this very much better than I, above. I cannot follow the beyond-quantum leap of Frodo and Sam having a repressed sexual relationship, however.)

People, except radicals on the fringes who were suppressed at every turn, did not talk or write about homosexuality in the 1940's. Tolkien, given his place in society and his influences, and the influence that he himself had, would not have considered it in his writing. To say that he did so subconsciously is unfounded speculation, based on observations of modern society, and ignores the author's own provenance.

As you can see, I am something of a relativist. To take something out of the context in which it was created can, and often does, destroy its meaning. As a well-educated Tolkien fan, I simply had to answer, and hence the long post.

Therefore, I submit, for your approval, that Frodo and Sam were not gay, and should not, even by present day standards, be ever considered to be gay, as to do so takes the author's work in a context that he was not even capable of considering, and certainly never intended. Though we have no way of knowing for certain with out old John Ronald Reull himself saying so, the facts we do know certainly point in that direction.


originally posted by Lyssabits

I think it's an interesting tendency of modern society, that people seem to read romantic interest in almost any relationship. I have the same problem with people assuming close same-sex friends are gay as I have with people assuming close opposite-sex friends must be secretly yearning for each other. :wink: I'm not sure when it happened, but it does seem like more and more like love of plain ol' friendship is being assumed to have hidden motivations.

This tendency I think is made pretty evident in the jokes folks have made about a particular screen writer and his penchant for writing male characters that are "heterosexual life-partners". I mean, the characters are clearly not gay, and the writer is often praised for his ability to portray really deep male friendships in a realistic and sort of novel way (because on TV it really seems like male friendships are often stereotyped to be pretty superficial) but the fact that they make the jokes use the sort of terminology usually applied to gay couples sort of brings it home… people assume any close, emotional relationship has to have a sexual component. Which I think is pretty silly.

I mean, has anyone here ever believed for a moment that Arithon and Jieret were sexually attracted to each other? I certainly never did, but you absolutely cannot deny the emotional depth of their relationship, depths that go way beyond the blood binding they shared. I suppose you could make the argument that they were like "brothers" but I also don't believe that any non-relationship of such deep intensity has to be limited to a family-type relationship.

originally posted by Meredith Lee Gray

Clansman, I agree with your post 100%, and found it very well-written. But I am biased. (I mean, we're all biased, right?) But my bias is the same as yours, which explains why I agree with you. I am straight, and a Christian (gasp! hiss! Yeah, it's unpopular now, I know.) but I try to refuse at every turn to judge people in any way, even and especially sexuality and/or sexual preferences. Judging and condemning people is none of my business!!

Still, it's difficult to read or view anything, without taking it in the context of your own belief system and biases.

Thus, perhaps someone who was gay, would read a relationship between two people of the same sex as a homosexual relationship, when the author left it ambiguous. But someone who was straight, would not see any such leaning there. Or vice versa!! It's difficult to escape our own biases, when examining such situations.

And authors may often leave such things ambiguous, because no one wants to offend anyone, especially nowadays.

You manage to make the point that was rattling around in my skull somewhere. Taking Tolkien's writing in a modern context can really distort the author's intent. Tolkien especially is perhaps one of the last fantasy authors to be "accused" of adding homosexuality in his writing. He was very conservative and a man of his time. And yet, it seems like his work is subject to the most gay 'shipping of characters in fanfic/fanart. Maybe it's just the movies, IDK. Or maybe it's because I don't really follow many other fantasy fandoms.

But some people surely feel that since Tolkien is dead, the works completed, and since they're just having fun on the 'Net and not trying to make any money off their writing/art, they can interpret what they want in the story, and no harm done. Maybe they're right, I don't know. But I, for one, am usually annoyed (or at best, roll my eyes) when I see somewhere that someone is posting some ship of characters that the author never put in a romantic relationship. Especially when it's someone like, say, Aragorn (who was obviously straight, unless you want to start talking about bears or bi-sexuality), and Boromir. That was not even left ambiguous. Maybe there is no harm done. There are other people out there who will no doubt enjoy reading of Aragorn and Boromir's steamy romance. I just think it's presumptuous. Not, strictly speaking because of the switch in sexual preference, but just the arrogance to take the author's published creation, and twist it around like it wasn't good enough for you in the first place, or as if you can make it better.

People should just create their own characters to do with as they please, as Janny has often advocated when people want to do fanfic/fanart of her works.

As always, humbly trying not to offend anyone. :wink:


originally posted by Stephen Kenneally

Clansman, Lyssabits, Meredith, that's a really fascinating discussion.

Since everyone is posting biases here: yes, I am gay, but I have from the start tried to maintain an objective perspective in my reading of the characters. What you were saying about the differing social systems in Middle-Earth and Athera is very true, and I think I did take that into my account. Also, I am an English student (as well as Psychology, which helped), and I was deliberately trying to take a somewhat objective perspective in the writing of my original post.

(And no, I never paired Sam/Frodo or Kharadmon/Luhaine - ever. :p)

I don't think I perceived certain characters in WoLaS as gay due to bias, but perhaps I am more sensitive to such implications. Still, I maintain my original assertion, and I do think it's a perfectly valid reading of both Sulfin Evend and Davien.

Men can, absolutely, have brotherlike very close relationships between other men that are entirely nonsexual (and I, arguably, am in an excellent position to know! :smiley:). I myself have that kind of relationship with several straight and gay male friends, so I do know what you're talking about.

However, I believe Sulfin's love for Lysaer (from his perspective) goes beyond that, even taking brotherly affection, awe, and "guy love" into account. :smiley:

I don't have any intention of perverting characters from who they are. This, for me, is part of who Sulfin and Davien are. This is how I read them, and how they appear to me. All readings are subjective, and I know my opinion is just that. I do hope, however, that I presented my opinion in such a way that it had at least some basis in the text as written, and didn't force WoLaS to conform to how I wanted it to be. Thanks to all of you for discussing this, it's fascinating to read all your responses!

Has anyone overcome their fear of discussing Davien enough to voice an opinion there? :stuck_out_tongue:


originally posted by Meredith Lee Gray


The problem is, sometimes we don't realize that we're seeing something through the visor of our bias. If we knew we were being biased, I'd like to think we'd all stop! But, it's really difficult to tell when we are, and when we're being objective.

I'm not saying either you or I are. Just musing on the fact that, can we ever really tell when we're being 100% objective? I often preface my comments with that disclaimer, just because… I'm always afraid I'm seeing things only from my own perspective. Frankly, it's difficult to do otherwise. Almost impossible, some might argue.

So who can ever say they're being truly objective? We can just do our best.

Forgive me for saying so, and please don't take this as being snarky or rude, but I was pretty sure you were gay from your first post on this subject. Just based on your perceptions. You probably could tell I was straight, I'd guess. :wink:

As far as Davien goes, he's a very complex character. There are a lot of aspects of him that are a mystery. Almost all aspects in fact! We know next-to-nothing about him, save his involvement in the uprising, and I'm pretty sure we don't even know all of that! I don't think we have enough info on him to speculate on his sexuality. And I don't want to look like an idiot for putting a theory out there that turns out to be completely wrong! So, yeah, I'm still afraid to voice an opinion there! :smiley:


originally posted by DarthJazy

To Everyone:

Ok how to beging first I am an agnostic. I don't personally beleave in a "God" but since 90% of the worlds populatiion beleaves in a higher power I will admit that there may be one.(for future reference as an agnostic I reserve the right to talk about view or see God as I see fit or choose at the time).

My personal symbol is the ying yang and my zodiac is the scales. Needless to say I have spent my life trying to live in a logical, rational, balanced way.

This being said I am probably one of the most objective people around (atleast with my friends). I am often everyones devil advocate able to argue any side of a situation regardless how I feel on the subject.

Now after the years of having such arguments and debates NOONE IS UNBIASED. to be completly unbiased on any subject you would have to live in a box. The day we are born we are biased because each experiance of life alters our perceptions just a bit. Milton said it best "the mind is a wonderous place it can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven"

No matter the subject and no matter what you do your going to offend someone (probably severly) ie. people writing spoofs on the gay encounters of LOTR characters. Now ussually I find such things hilarious and if i ever created such an epic i would be honored that people wanted to make fun of it.

Janny has it right that each person is going to take what they want from a book regardless of what the author intends. So the best an author can do is leave it open to be interpreted how the reader wants which will lead to the reader feeling as if the book was written specificly for or about him/her.

In the 4 books of poetry I have written(never published just my emotional outlet so that I can remain unemotional in everything else) I always open each book "Do not try to guess what I mean in the journy ahead instead take from it what you can and learn what you may"

This has been a supurb duscussion and am far happier than I can say that i foudn a place that can talk like this without fighting or ripping each others modems out. Where as my life has not permitted me financial stability to be reading SF with the rest of you I still feel I have finally found a home that goes beyond our mutual love for the workings of Janny Wurts.

Thank you for being here

originally posted by Trys

My turn.

Firstly, I believe that one of Janny's purposes in writing the WoLaS books is to show us that we invariably see things colored by our prejudices.

Secondly, as a person without religious affiliation and a gay man I am very, very impressed with the quality of the discussion here. WAY too often discussion of controversial issues gets out of control. Not because anyone originally intended to inflict insult or injury on anyone but because, as has been pointed out by several participants in this thread, that we perceive things through the lens of our own perceptions. Nothing else is possible. We have no other system of perceiving.

[brief foray into my belief system]

Our consciousness is projected into the physical plane and manifests as the bodies we perceive as 'self', much as the light on a wall appears from the flashlight that is shined upon it (thank you J. Michael Stracynsinki [Babylon 5] for that image). As such the projection filters the information that passes back to our consciousness.

[foray ends]

Because we perceive things as we do we will often infer meanings that simply were not present in the other person's statement and, based upon that inference, will often react. Given that it is much more difficult to discern the printed word than the spoken one I am very pleased that this is not happening here.

Frank Herbert dealt with the issue of humans and animals in human form (for those who have read Dune, Paul's testing by the Gom Jabbar determined that he was human). I am pleased to say that everyone here has passed this particular test of humanity with flying colors.

So to each one of you Humans, I say thank-you and well met.


(Message edited by admin on December 01, 2007)

originally posted by max


originally posted by Stephen Kenneally

First of all, thank you Trys for your comment/accolade to everyone here. That was really nice to read, and made my day a little bit brighter. :smiley:

Max, I understand what you're saying (loudly and clearly!), but there's a significant difference between sex and sexuality.

Yes, the Fellowship of Seven are probably not interested in sex per se, but their sexuality is still an important part of who they are - Kharadmon is an excellent example of this when Dakar sees his memories.

And I'd describe the Fellowship as very human in a lot of ways. Just not in the sense of "are like other humans". In many ways, they have achieved the pinnacle of humanity (well, not entirely, but they're close).

originally posted by Lyssabits

I dunno, maybe this is just me, but I've always kind of felt that a person's sexuality is only so important to their identity because there's so much furor about it. Like, if no one cared whether a person was gay or not, would it inform their world-view all that much except with regards to who you want to date? :wink: I'm much more interested in examining why I gravitate towards certain types of men (neeerds) rather the fact than that I like men in general.

As far as the F7… I would argue that since they've moved beyond more earthly concerns, their sexuality isn't that important anymore. I think Kharadamon's former life is interesting and important for how his experiences have shaped him into the person he is today, but I'm not sure the fact that he liked girls rather than boys before he lost his body is all that interesting… the fact that he liked that *particular* red-headed woman however *is* interesting. =>

originally posted by DarthJazy

HI lyssa im the biggest nerd I know and single *wink*

sorry cant resist since im single and finally met a woman who likes nerds

originally posted by Lyssabits

Yeah sorry DarthJazy, it's too late for me. Living in the Nerd Capital of the World (Silicon Valley) as I do, I met plenty of nerds, so I'm already married. :wink:

originally posted by DarthJazy

oh well atleast a nerd somewhere has a good woman who likes him for him

originally posted by hosanna

hmmm lots of interesting stuff here. I'm thinking about the phrasing of my original statement on sam and froddo perhaps what I should have written was "I always enjoyed my preferred reading of the character Sam as being gay and in love with Froddo". I'm treading a fine line here between saying (as I did last time) there was some subconscious intention by Tolkien to write that and saying that Tolkein's intentions don't matter one way or another as once a book is published it is in the public domain and the meaning of the text does not reside in the author (according to my education in literature) but instead the meaning circulates between text and reader in the ideological ether.
Clansman and Meredith, I hope you see that I am not attacking Tolkien (although I'm not a fan) or any of your beliefs (I'm a can't decide between catholicism and eastern stuff) but I do differ from you on what is valid interpretation.
I think it is okay to read characters way differently from the author's intention as that is part of any reader's enjoyment. A lot of interpretation done today of texts written in the past does seem to ignore the clear indications of where the author sat on certain issues. But we are interpreting the silences as well as the statements. In more conservative times homosexuality did exist but people who were gay suffered from prejudice, their percentage of the population underrepresented in literature. Thus, reading texts from the past "against the grain" of the author's intention becomes an act of empowerment a balancing the scales if you wish. I think it is more 'fun' if you can find some tiny bit of 'evidence' to hang your interpretation on but to me that isn't essential. However my previous comments did lean in the direction of assuming a vague subconsious intention. I am revising that now, on reflection.
People who write fan fic likely do it for the sense of empowerment. I'm not a fan fic writer but I do enjoy reading it. mostly of tv shows not fan fics of successful novels.
In terms of pure platonic love yes, perhaps the scales have started to tip too far in favour of reading gayness everywhere but it is all part of the pendulum swing to me. Platonic love is a valuable, rich reality that shouldn't be overlooked in favour of something more popular. Overlooking homosexual love in the past in favour of strict moral standards was very harsh on some people. But through the ages some representations do sneak through. In fact wasn't ancient Greece a bit of a hey day for gay love with plenty of literature from the time surviving to show the realities?
I'm also trying to remember about what time Maurice was written by EM Forster? Just a few examples spring to mind against the enormous pile of mainstream stuff.
So, I guess I'm saying the interpretation is fun, with or without evidence and valid to balance the scales and speak into the silences left in literature due to the repressive moral codes of the past.