I have been asked why do I write about men who love each other romantically. Why not write about ‘straight’ couples, the ‘norm’ as many see it. After all that’s what it’s all about isn’t it, that’s what makes the world spin on it’s axis? Well no actually it isn’t, at least it’s not how I as a writer sees it.
I write about men who love each other, especially in an historical setting because there is I think, something profoundly moving and beautiful about men risking not only their reputation but their life to be with a man they love and with whom they want to share their life with no matter the cost.
In my work in progress, my main characters, Edward & William go to any lengths to hide the fact that they are both deeply in love with each other. But I have now reached a point in the narrative where, fearing that they have been discovered they decide they must part and I am going to have to try and instil in my readers a sense of the hopelessness and grief that this will engender in the lovers. And grief there will be aplenty before I reach the last chapter because as they say, the path of true love never runs smoothly, and love between two men in the 16th century was fraught with danger.
But who can they turn to in their sadness? I suspect no one, because even if there was anyone who could understand, even empathise with them, they would never dare say so for fear they too would be branded as a Sodomite or an Unnatural as they were termed then. It was in all respects The Love that Dare Not Speak it’s Name…you may be hanged for it.
But when Miss Vapours and Mr Strong and Silent are forced into a parting of the ways well, there’s always a trusty younger sister or discreet friend for her, at least to confide in. For this is normal and good and God given however much mama and papa may disapprove. Not so for my boys, they must weep silently into their pillow at night, alone heartbroken and tormented because they have fallen in love with another human being who just happens to be the same sex as they are.
But to love the mind, the spirit and the soul to me at least is what love is about, not just the physical body wherein they lie. Yes, they do make love but it is not merely a physical union but also a joining of soul and spirit. They are in every sense complete, which makes their parting so painful and traumatic.
So, yes I do think men loving men romantically is beautiful and moving because of the dangers they faced, and at the risk of sounding anachronistic, narrow mindedness of others.
And gay men and women still face that same narrow-mindedness even today from those who maintain that it is disgusting and unnatural. So must love be then.
Till next time.
Illustration, The Death of Hyacinthus.