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Author Topic: Sexuality & Stereotypes  (Read 1565 times)

* The Narrator

    (05/12/2012 at 17:19)
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Era Guide: 1950s

“Capitalism, loyally supported by the churches, has established a Public Policy that the Sacred Institution of Monogamy must be enforced; and such a fiat is the death knell to all sexual freedom.”
- Henry Gerber, 'In Defense of Homosexuality' (1932)

General Perception

Homosexual acts between two men were criminalized by many countries, and could result in imprisonment or even death. Though such laws did not include acts between women, lesbian leanings were seen as a mental weakness and lesbian women were often forced into rehabilitation in psychiatric hospitals. Gay men and women often had to hide their relationships, fearful of being arrested and shunned in a time when society had an extremely narrow view of sexuality. Openly gay individuals and supporters of the gay community often had to deal with physical and verbal violence, restrictions in freedom of expression, violations of privacy, and violations of rights to education/work/health care.

How does this play out? Characters rarely 'come out' to friends; there is very little support for gay rights, and even close friends might think they're helping by telling the authorities, as homosexuality was regarded as a mental illness. Some, if not most, characters are prejudiced against openly gay characters and characters who are openly support gay rights.

In Britain

Up until the late 1800s, if you were suspected of being homosexual you were not only arrested, but sentenced to death. Homosexuality wasn't decriminalised in Britain until The Sexual Offences Act in 1967 (which is still over a decade away). This Act only applied to England and Wales, and did not cover the Armed Forces. Homosexuality in Scotland and Northern Ireland was not decriminalised until even later, in 1980 and 1982, respectively. Prior to the Act, those caught having a relationship with someone of the same sex were most often convicted and imprisoned, yet Britain was still considered to be one of the more tolerant countries.

How does this play out? There is high social stigma against openly gay men and women. It is likely that gay and bisexual characters struggle to find work and acceptance from other characters, and they are often discriminated against. They may be turned away by restaurants, cafés, or even their friends. Some openly gay characters may even find that their civil rights are taken away from them, and most must hide their sexuality just so they can earn a living.

In Germany

Homosexuality was officially made illegal in Germany in 1871, and this law was further extended under Nazi rule. Those suspected of being homosexual were mercilessly persecuted, resulting in a huge increase of convictions. Penalties were severe, and many gay men died as a result. In 1950, the Nazi extensions to the law were lifted, but homosexuality (for men) remained a crime in East Germany until 1968, and until 1969 in West Germany.

How does this play out? After the merciless persecution of homosexual men during World War II, most gay characters will continue to be extremely afraid of being openly gay. Homosexuality is still a crime; much like in Britain, there is still high social stigma against gay characters, particularly men. Many may face imprisonment or a removal of their civil rights if they are discovered to be gay, so try to hide their sexuality.

In America

This was a turbulent time for gay rights. While it was still illegal for two men to engage in homosexual relations, 1950 saw the founding of the Mattachine Society, one of the first LGBT rights organisations that saw some success. However, homosexuality was very much regarded as a mental illness, which led to the banning of gay men and women from working within the federal government in 1953. Homosexuality was aligned with Communism, and the persecution of gay people by the American government escalated into what is known as the Lavender Scare.

How does this play out? Again, there is high social stigma against openly gay characters. They are faced with unemployment if they do not hide their sexuality, and find themselves shunned by a large majority of society. That said, LGBT rights organisations are beginning to surface, so it is possible that gay characters are able to express themselves more freely within such organisations.

Rules Regarding Homophobia

This site does not and will never encourage homophobic behavior out of character. That said, we are writing in an era where many such attitudes still abound, especially in the Muggle world. An area of conflict in World War II (which only ended recently, in 1945) was sexuality, and to roleplay without acknowledging such a rich background would be a shame.

We follow the site guidelines on discrimination (see here for more), and under no circumstances are homophobic slurs allowed, whether it's in character in a post or out of character. Your characters are allowed to dislike people for homophobic reasons and you are welcome to play this out, but we don't want to see the language. There are more creative and subtle ways of going about dealing with such issues and playing out the attitudes of the era, and we encourage you to take this as a challenge.

In addition, please remember that the site-wide rating is PG-13. We ask that your writing also follows this rule as well.
« Last Edit: 19/02/2018 at 20:44 by Calypso Ross »