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Random Thoughts. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Random Thoughts.
For some time, I’ve been meaning – and have been meant – to say a few words about HBP and, more pertinently, to get my Oxford essay done for lasayla’s marvellous Britticus Totallus! Guide.

It wd be convenient to blame my delays upon Intervening Events of Greater Importance (the Ashes, Goodwood, and Cowes. I know, I know: come the Revolution, I’m booked for the nearest lamppost. Note my terror at the prospect). In fact, however, at least the latter of those tasks is a bit of a facer because I am thus far unable to find a way of saying what wants saying without being too damned personal. (I cherish my privacy.) The same is true of part, though not of all, of what I had intended to say as regards HBP.

Yet I here find myself, however briefly, touching on a point that has the greatest potential of all for forced self-revelation: Harry, Draco, H/D, and the ‘Ginny Problem’. Well, so be it.

Do I believe that, somehow, Draco and Harry ‘are’ gay? No. That is to say, I think it about as likely that JKR conceives of them as anything less than heterosexual, much less will write them thusly, as it is that John Major will be recalled to head the Conservatives, and will then sweep them back into power. That said, I write H/D, I read H/D, and I believe that it is vy easy indeed to write Harry and Draco both as gay, gay, gay.

More to the point, I don’t find that the latest canon puts any new difficulty in the way of writing both characters as gay, or of getting them together. (What may be called the personal enmity problem and the political problem both remain to be resolved, but, I repeat, I see nothing in new canon that creates any new barrier, least of all Ginny Weasley. After all, Cho created no such barriers.)

There’s a reason for that, chaps, as someone’s old Science master used to say when something exploded. (And, lo, the report thereof did reverberate from Lower School to Agar’s, yea, and verily to Queen’s Eyot was the sound thereof heard….)

I am well aware that most of those who write, and most of those who read, slash, are women. I am also vy well aware, from having seen it happen to others, of the risk any gay man who writes or reads slash takes in attempting to set the record str- – er, bent – about matters of fact (there are self-appointed Vestal Viragos who will savage such well-intentioned comments, and those who dare offer them). Nevertheless, and the more especially as I am not in fact confronting or contradicting anyone (that I know of), I will take the risk.

Speaking from my own experience, and mindful of similar experiences undergone by others, I can attest that a chap can be well into his twenties, have graduated from university, and still be ambivalent about his desires and orientation. For example, the public schools do resemble HM Prisons and the Age-of-Sail Royal Navy in sponsoring situational homosexuality, simply because no other sex is available, and, for example, Oriel did not admit women until 1985 (and the House surrendered only just before that). Resolving the extent to which one is orientated homosexually as opposed to having had several homosexual experiences simply because one was immured in all-male environments is not an uncommon quandary for British gays of certain antecedents. Additionally, I can attest that it is vy easy to spend one’s teens and early twenties having remotely romantic feelings (including rescue-complexes, superficial relationships, and Grand Wagnerian Noble Renunciations a la Harry and Ginny) for socially appropriate objects of heterosexual affection, even whilst contemplating or engaging in homosexual acts or even relationships. One can even be jealous of the attention paid a girl by another chap at the vy moment one is calculating how one can juggle the end of the evening with her in time to slope off to a planned shag with the bloke-of-the-week (yes, I have done just that. No, I’m not proud of it). All of this was especially easy to do (mentally and psychologically) in the 1980s and the 1990s, as opposed to today’s atmosphere.

Add to that that Draco, canonically, has no real observable interest in girls (Pansy is clearly a social obligation) and that Harry, canonically, notices Ginny and Tonks more than any other girls (and dear God does he notice boys: Cedric, Bill, Charlie, Draco…), and the pattern becomes still more amenable to slashy manipulation. Tonks is Draco’s cousin and rather resembles him in feature. Ginny’s best feature, to Harry, is that she’s the anti-Cho: why, she’s almost as a good as a boy, ahem, and not all soppy and feminine. She’s snarky, athletic, slender, a Seeker (turned Chaser), has a temper, and has a dangerous edge…. Sounds familiar, oddly enough. Yet Harry manages – nobly, of course – to renounce her (for her own safety, of course. Right).

Ginny Problem? What Ginny Problem?

I’m sure I’ll come back to this in a more extended and useful and detailed way later, but I wanted to say now that I think too many people are trying to impose a false set of dichotomies on a vy fluid sexuality, here.

In other news, for the ten or so of you who read my series GIGH, I’m planning an annotated version, as well as the sequel, and welcome input.

ETA: I keep seeing the term PWNED. I had not realised there were so many Welsh people in the fandom.

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33 comments or Leave a comment
From: ex_ella_bane358 Date: August 10th, 2005 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ginny’s best feature, to Harry, is that she’s the anti-Cho: why, she’s almost as a good as a boy, ahem, and not all soppy and feminine. She’s snarky, athletic, slender, a Seeker (turned Chaser), has a temper, and has a dangerous edge…. Sounds familiar, oddly enough. Yet Harry manages – nobly, of course – to renounce her (for her own safety, of course. Right).

Ha ha, I love this whole bit. Ginny acts a bit like Draco too. She's mean to Ron, casts hexes on people who bug her, etc. So she's almost the whole package!

I'm wondering if you read my "Ginny Problem" essay yesterday! I see her not so much as an obstacle to Harry's gayness, but that I have to include her when Harry rationalizes his true feelings for Draco. I'm joining yet another challenge (similar to the big bang baby one) and I'm in the planning stages of a new H/D set to take place immediately after the events of HBP. I've already written a few scenes where Ginny and Harry talk about the 'noble' breakup. But really, Ginny as a boy's boy is perfect.

I still need to read your long fic.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 10th, 2005 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)


Well ... I've read it NOW.

Clever, too.
From: balfrog Date: August 10th, 2005 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
yup, see no evil, hear no evil.
Draco? no problem? Harry? yup.

But what's PWNED? in netspeak or Welsh?
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 11th, 2005 01:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

No Idea.

Bwt with thwse vwwels, look you, it mwst be Welsh swmehww.
tiferet From: tiferet Date: August 10th, 2005 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
ETA: I keep seeing the term PWNED. I had not realised there were so many Welsh people in the fandom.

*cracks up*

I grew up in the USA in the 1970s and could never figure out whether I was straight or a lesbian because I liked snogging my girlfriends but was really turned on by men. And went to gay bars a lot in large part because I felt safe there.

I have finally figured out that I'm mostly straight, and just like to snog a lot, and that while most women are prettier than most men (to me) men are what really turn me on. But then again a lot of the men I really like remind other people of women, they just have that part of the body which is really sort of necessary to my satisfaction, neanderthal of me as it is to admit it.

I've also done a lot of things I'm not especially proud of, and will just say, I think most people are more complex than they let on, and it must be very nice for those people who are born knowing exactly what they like and whose only problem is getting other people to acknowledge/accept it--for all that they may have other problems I have no idea what that's like, and sometimes I still want to snog girls, and really, people are just not that easy to sort out.

I don't want the world to ever again be as homophobic as it was in the time of my youth; at the same time, it must be scary to have to declare yourself at 16.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 11th, 2005 01:36 pm (UTC) (Link)


I also 'grew up' (so to speak. And, allegedly) in that time (I'm 43). My generation was hit vy hard by Aids, of course: in the early 1980s, chaps were slutting about as if it were the '70s, not knowing that the Plague had begun, and dying before new therapies came along. I suspect that that has had a great deal to do with the later generations's wholly new attitudes (including the idea of gay marriage, wh, to the average poofter in the '70s, wd have been comedic, or an example of subtle, heteronormative pressure to conform: notches on the headboard were a badge of honour in the '70s, and promiscuity a political statement to many). That said, this idea that one wants, wishes, needs, or ought declare oneself at 16 or any other damned age stuns me. Indeed, it alarms me.

PS: You say, 'men ... just have that part of the body which is really sort of necessary to my satisfaction, neanderthal of me as it is to admit it'. Well, sign me up as a Neanderthal. We can talk all we like about spectra and loving the inner person (and that is just how one gets into sentimental entanglements with those of the inapposite sex), but even though I can on some plane love and admire and even have vaguely romantic impulses towards the occasional woman, I'll flatly admit, she'll be forever wanting the right bits. I'm not gay because I like [insert gay stereotype here, none of which I in fact conform to], I'm gay in that I like [insert vulgarism of your choice for the male pudendum. And I do mean, 'insert']. And this leads to a serious point: 'exploration' is one thing, and we've discussed that; but once you've been on yr knees and on yr back and wanted more-and-often, it's pretty clear which way you're orientated and that this is not situational.
avus From: avus Date: August 10th, 2005 10:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
As a therapist who often works w/ young men on issues of sexual and, inreasingly, gender, I have some real sense as to how poorly we think through these issues, and how complex they are. But to discuss them frankly generally sets off a political firestorm.

When I was growing up, as I've written in my lj, the issue wasn't gay or straight -- never heard those terms until late in college. It was gender: effeminate boys/men & masculine girls/women. That distinction was, by my slight perusal of the history & anthropology of sexuality, quite the most common way of understanding things. But by my first grad school, in the 1970's, it had been completely forgotten in any discussion I ever had, and didn't re-emerge on my thought screen until I had a transgendered client in the late 1980's.

Let's just say that there are, ineed, more things in heaven & on earth, etc.

Serious discussion, as opposed to barfights, would be terribly useful.

Your discussion, I think, is one sort of start.

I'm glad you were comfortable to let show a bit behind your guarded privacy, though I might add that very little of what you said surprised me about you, except that you're a bit younger than I thought you were.

Which meamns, of course, damnall.

Must get bak to work.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 11th, 2005 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)

Do Elaborate, Please.

As we do have a professional here, it seems a waste not to use you.

And I'm not all that young. (I mentioned the '90s only because that wd be Harry's decade.) I matriculated at university in 1980, I'm 43, I was 'exploring' in the 1970s and working through various stages of confusion in the vy early 1980s (and am damned lucky to be alive).

Please, then, do discuss these issues frankly. Here I can promise no fire-storms: I possess the power of deleting comments in this thread, after all. We want yr expert knowledge.
avus From: avus Date: August 11th, 2005 07:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Do Elaborate, Please.

I'm not sure that I have expert knowledge. I wonder, indeed, whether anyone has expert knowledge on this.

Briefly, and w/ no sense that what I'm saying is in any finished form, there appear to be a number of overlapping issues, which are considered in several ways. A few points:

1. Issues of sexuality & gender appear, very strongly, to have a component that individuals have little or no choice over. The best research I've read points to a basic biological origin. Simply put, we seem to be born "that way", however "that way" "is". That issues of transgender & homosexuality appear in most if not all cultures, strongly suggests, at least to me, that these are issues which are biological as well. Again, simply put, there are real limits as to how much culture & choice are involved here. Again, that's "the way" people "are", however we define those. Put in philosophical terms, it's a matter of ontology, being.

2. Yet there appears to be also some strong cultural & environmental -- situational, experiential influences. In other words, it's more complicated than simple ontology.

Let me give several examples, w/ a few primative & tentative reflections:

A. It's well known, as you pointed out, that in same sex enviornments -- such as all boys (or girls) schools, prisons, etc., many who would "normally" "be" or (please take a deep breath) "prefer" heterosexual sex become quite comfortable in same sex relationships. It should be noted, though, that some people, in these environments, appear not much tempted to engage in same sex behaviors, and not necessarily b/c of a lower sex drive, though I've seem damnall research on this. Here, for these people, it appears to be a matter of availability, not ontology. Or perhaps another way of expressing it: issues of sexuality & love appear to trump, for some people, issues of whether or not a same gender/opposite gender is available.

Enter the issue of bisexuality, w/ it's own complex history & anthropology. What this does imply is that, for some people, issues of sexuality, and perhaps gender as well, are not either/or, yes/no categories, but more matters of degree. More gay, less gay, etc. Which doesn't square very well w/ simple ontology.

I'll stop here, and add another post. If I'm boring you & clogging your lj, please let me know, and I'll stop. Unfortunately, though, this isn't a quick comment type of issue.

avus From: avus Date: August 11th, 2005 01:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Forgot to mention -- great idea annotating GIGH. I think I caught many of your allusions, but I know I missed some. Maybe you should start out at your Yahoo Group, making a guessing game of it, Chapter by Chapter, w/ prizes for the winners.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 11th, 2005 01:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Brilliant Idea, Gaffer!

So we shall.
(Deleted comment)
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 11th, 2005 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, I Can See That.

And that can make a person a bit snappish, that assumption that men are the only reliable observers of men. Or that writing a woman's-eye view of men is an inherently useless enterprise.

I can see where that wd be so. And I quite welcome the external eye and the sympathetic imagination: it does all of us good. Yet when I see, as I have seen, what we may call 'gay-picks' (on the analogy of 'Brit-picks') met with 'slash is written by womyn for womyn, and you, male worm, are barely allowed in our sandbox', I do rather raise an eyebrow.

Ah, well. C'est la guerre and All That.

As to the confirming the reality behind the myths, I can only say that my experience and that of others I know is what I've set out. I'm not dealing in universals.

Is there any of that port left?
sgt_majorette From: sgt_majorette Date: August 11th, 2005 08:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
My qualifications: Native New Yorker, 60's balletomane (Royal Ballet groupie in the Fonteyn-Nureyev era), Army vet.

My theory: If your soulmate has the same genital configuration as you do, then you're gay. You can't (or at least shouldn't) commit to a sexuality until you fall in love. If you never find your soulmate, and you are a highly sexual person, then you may take what you can get. And if people can tell what you do in bed just by a casual glance in the street, then you should reasonably expect to get beat up, like the kid with the six-inch blue mohawk who snarls, "What are you looking at?" One may not be able to choose whom to love, but one certainly can control one's public behaviour.

That said, there is no "Ginny Problem". Ginny is a 'ho. Ginny likes Harry. Harry is gay, and he's the only person he's ever met who doesn't know this. Harry has "Will Die A Virgin" tattooed over his scar. Ginny thinks this is a shame, so she drags him off into the bushes and initializes his programming. If anyone asks, she will say Harry rocked her world, and maybe he did. Now all we have to do is find out that Tom Riddle was never able to satisfy a woman, and we're canonically golden.

Ah, the power of love!!!
wemyss From: wemyss Date: August 12th, 2005 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes, You Take What You Can Get...

Sorry, had a sudden urge to quote the lyrics to 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet', there.


I quite agree (wh infuriates those who believe that the sexual is the political): you can and ought control yr public behaviour. Or to quote another and older lyric, ' 'Tain't nobody's business if I do'.
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