Thursday, February 2, 2012
Edwardian Era and Homosexuality: Unmentionable
It's no mistake that I titled my new release with Loveyoudivine.com, UNMENTIONABLE: THE MEN WHO LOVED ON THE TITANIC. One hundred years ago, even a hint of homosexuality was considered taboo in all circles of society. And if you consider the social class distinctions of the Edwardian era, it becomes even more complicated.
First, I did a fair share of research on the Edwardian era for this book, on top of what I already knew. According to wiki, the Edwardian era ran from l901 - l910. If you read on, you'll see some believe the Edwardian era extended to the sinking of the Titanic...or to the beginning of WWI. And I read an interesting comment thread yesterday where others extend the era even longer. I've never believed that eras begin and end at one set time in history, so I'm going to refer to this story as a historical set during the Edwardian era and take sides with those who believe the era extended until WWI.
Obtaining this information was the easiest part of writing this story. The hardest part was trying to figure out how homosexual men would have lived in 1912. There's obviously very little information out there because men who loved other men in 1912 didn't discuss this openly...ever. What little information I could find was either a string of jokes about gay men on comment threads or bizarre opinions I didn't think could be trusted. And though more than a few things have been written about homosexuality in the Victorian era, there's very little for the Edwardian era. I would assume this is partly because most are more familiar with the Victorian era and they often either include the Edwardian era with the Victorian era...or confuse it with the Victorian era.
Unfortunately, I find distinct differences between the Victorian era and the Edwardian era. This is why I love the Edwardian era so much. So a good deal of my story about men who loved on the Titanic is fiction that was based on what I could pilfer from the basic information I could get about fashion, trends, and lifestyles during that time period. I didn't get into social class much in this book, and that's mainly because both characters are from similar social classes. This time social class didn't play a huge role in the storyline for me. The conflict, for me, was more about how homosexual men had to hide their true feelings and emotions, and the lengths to which they had to stoop in order to protect themselves.
But I did find one film review web site that had some fascinating information. It's a review of the film "Maurice," titled, "Merry Old England," written by, Michael D. Klemm. You can get there from here. I can almost guarantee that even if you aren't a fan of historicals and the Edwardian era, you'll find this article/review interesting.
To state the obvious, early twentieth century Edwardian England was not a good time to be gay. The climate was so bad that noted novelist E.M. Forster began writing a book with a homosexual hero in 1913 that he never published in his lifetime.