Sunday, 30 November 2014

Attitudes To Homosexuality

The most noticeable social changes in my life-time so far have been the position of women in society and attitudes to homosexuality and smoking. Homosexuality is no longer illegal; smoking in public buildings is! Smokers have to go outside. When a guy looked as if he was about to light up in a pub, two of us were all set to tell him he was breaking the law but then he finished his conversation and moved outside.

In Poul Anderson's "The Game of Glory," published in 1958, when I was nine, Dominic Flandry, reflecting on the consequences for "...earnest, well-intentioned young patriots..." whose revolution has been defeated, thinks:

"...I suppose it all serves the larger good. It must. Our noble homosexual Emperor says so himself."
-Poul Anderson, Captain Flandry: Defender Of The Terran Empire (New York, 2010), p. 338,

- with the clear implication that homosexuality is reprehensible.

In Anderson's "Death And The Knight," published in 1995, when I was forty six, Manse Everard says of a homosexual relationship:

"'I'm not passing moral judgments. On the contrary...People's bedrooms are none of my business.'"
-Poul Anderson, Time Patrol (New York, 2006), p. 756.

Two stages: disapproval; denial of disapproval. The third stage is the assumption, without needing to state it, that this is not a matter for either approval or disapproval.


  1. Hi, Paul!

    I think you are making a mistake here. Poul Anderson himself, in one of his letters to me, stressed that very often he will have his characters saying or believing things he himself does or does not believe. That is, just because Characer A says something, that does not necessarily means the author believes it. I believe we need to keep in mind that plot and characer development often means that person saying or doing things the author himself would not do or agree with.

    That said, I think it is plain that Poul Anderson himself did not like or approve of homosexuality. BUT, that does not mean he ever advocated being cruel and unjust to persons like that. He was, as we both know, a kind and tolerant man.


    1. Hi, Paul!

      By the way, I don't like how smokers are treated, as tho they were practicing some esp. disgusting and depraved vice. Mind you, I agree smoking is a bad and unhealthy habit, but does that mean smokers should be treated the way they are today? Why not have smoking and non smoking rooms in places like restaurants, offices, work places, etc.? Should they really be banished outside into cold, rainy, or snowy weather if they want to smoke?