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Otherworld
Registered User
(3/22/07 8:13 pm)


Traditional tales with gay or lesbian characters
Does anyone know of any traditional tales with gay, lesbian or transgender characters. Needless to say that is not the label they would have in the story but any help would be appreciated. Its for a History of LGBT in Folklore/Fairy Tales artical I'm planning.

I have found nothing so far but maybe theres something out there.

Thanks

otherworld

Edited by: Otherworld at: 3/22/07 8:27 pm
Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(3/22/07 8:51 pm)


Re: Traditional tales with gay or lesbian characters
Well, it's not traditional, but I've always strongly suspected that Lizzie and Laura from Christina Rossetti's The Goblin Market were lovers.

I think you might have some luck looking at Greek myth--didn't Zeus abduct Ganymede to be his...um, cupbearer (if that's what the kids are calling it these days) because he was so enamored of his beauty? And Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, before he knew it was an image of himself.

dlee10
Registered User
(3/23/07 7:09 am)


Re: Traditional tales with gay or lesbian characters
There was a story about a woman whose husband was murdered; she dressed as a man, gurarded the king who then fell in love with him/her? A bird told her tale in order to have everything put right. Of course the title escapes me.

RoseRed81
Registered User
(3/23/07 8:13 am)


Lizzie and Laura
I think the girls in <i>Goblin Market</i> were sisters, though perhaps they were also lovers - I never thought it was anything more than that traditional closeness of siblings.

Veronica Schanoes
Registered User
(3/23/07 4:18 pm)


Re: Lizzie and Laura
Lizzie and Laura are explicitly referred to as "sisters"--whether that's a nuclear sisterhood or a symbolic sisterhood is never specified. I submit for your consideration the following lines:

"Did you miss me?
Come and kiss me.
Lizzie, never mind my bruises,
hug me, kiss me, suck my juices."

(From the scene in which Laura returns from being pelted with fruit, and heals Lizzie by...um...having her lick the fruit juices off of her.)

The ballad with the masquerading widow is "The Famous Flower of Serving-men."

And, oh, Tireisias is the famous Greek transsexual seer, who was transformed into both a man and a woman by the gods.

Edited by: Veronica Schanoes at: 3/23/07 4:29 pm
ErmineLady
Registered User
(3/23/07 5:45 pm)


Homosexuality in traditional stories
There are some references in the ARABIAN NIGHTS stories to women who take same-sex lovers, but they are not sympathetic.

kristiw
Registered User
(3/23/07 8:01 pm)


Re: Homosexuality in traditional stories
Is the Epic of Gilgamesh traditional enough for you? The homoeroticism between Gilgamesh and Enkidu is often discussed. As a few other people have pointed out, you're more likely to find relevant texts in mythology than fairy tales (there's at least one other youth Zeus had as a lover, but his name is utterly slipping my mind. The myth involved a large temple snake?). There is one story that came up on the board recently and which has always fascinated me, The Princess Who Pretended to be a Boy. You can find it in Lang, and it's always struck me as a surprisingly accepting approach to cross-gender transformation. And there's at least one volume of traditional fairy tales re-written for gay men on Amazon, which might give you an idea of what stories lent themselves to those interpretations.

And, FYI: www.news.com.au/dailytele...07,00.html

valeriefrankel
Registered User
(3/27/07 1:19 pm)


Re: Homosexuality in traditional stories
I've found a Native American story with lesbianism in it. Still, Greek myth is definitely the place to look. At one point, Apollo and Zeus squabble over who will take Ganymede as a lover. Hercules and his "page", Hylas, Achilles and his "best friend/squire" Patrocles. Artimis and her ladies bathe naked together, and there are definitely major hints of relationships with her favorites. There's a brilliant Beauty and the Beast retelling called The Tale of the Rose by Emma Donoghue, with a female beauty and a female beast, though, of course, many modern adaptations like Mists of Avalon have homosexual traces.

Otherworld
Registered User
(3/27/07 4:23 pm)


Re: Homosexuality in traditional stories
Thanks folks, plenty to go on with. Looks like the myths is the place to look. It would be nice to find a couple of traditional folk/fairy tales though.

bluewyvern
Registered User
(3/28/07 7:40 pm)


Re: Homosexuality in traditional stories
You might want to check out Mlle L'Heritier's tale "Marmoisan ou l'innocente tromperie" ("Marmoisan, or the Innocent Trick"), about a girl who dresses as a man and goes to join the army in place of her dead brother. The Prince takes notice of her and begins to be very troubled by his growing attraction to the new recruit, often wishing to himself that she were a woman.

I am sure there are many variants of this tale type, which is probably worth investigating. There's
Mulan", if nothing else.

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(3/28/07 9:42 pm)


another in Calvino?
I seem to remember somewhere in Calvino a story that began with a princess disguising herself as a man to lead an army or to guard someone, but her duty eventually led to guarding a woman (in a palace), who became attracted to her, thinking her a man. Iirc the whole thing was settled by some magical deus ex machina, and felt to me like a hasty 'cut out the risque parts and fadge it up respectable'. A sex change might have been hinted, though whether it made the final version I don't recall.

To me this had the pace and flavor of some stories taken from the Pentamerone or the Decameron; anyway you might find some there.

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(3/28/07 11:01 pm)


Sorry, I can't resist.

www.scn.org/~lilandbr/xena.html
I travel with a poet who is perky and parthenian*
And scribbles her hexameters in Linear Mycenian*
(And many have attempted, by a host of methods mystical,
To tell if our relationship's sororal or sapphistical).
Chorus :
To tell if their relationship's sororal or sapphistical!
To tell if their relationship's sororal or sapphistical!
To tell if their relationship's sororal or sapphisti-phistical!

moonway
Registered User
(4/9/07 12:11 pm)


Re: Traditional tales with gay or lesbian characters
The closest thing I can think of is a a fairy tale from Brittany called "The Groac'h from the Isle of Lok" in which a girl dresses as a man in order to free her lover.

www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/159.htm

I guess that counts as a brief cross-dressing episode.

Since your original post, have you found much material for your article? I'd like to read it when you're done.

I have rewritten about a dozen folk and fairy tales to include a gender transformation. The reason I've done so few is that -- in spite of the number of tales I've read and continued to read -- there just don't seem to be many tales in which an element like that could fit with any naturalness.

"The Princess Who Pretended To Be A Boy" (mentioned by kristiw above) quite surprised me. It's the only fairy/folk tale that I've seen in which a gender change takes place. It's odd, since there is so much changing in fairy and folk tales: people turn into animals, or stone, or their age changes, but not their gender.

I wonder whether there might be stories (I don't recall any) in which there are kingdoms or houses composed only of men or only of women? This might be a way of indirectly referring to homosexuality...

Kaleigh Way

Edited by: moonway at: 4/10/07 7:22 am
K D Heart
Registered User
(4/17/07 9:28 am)


Re: Traditional tales with gay or lesbian characters
Well, I recall one story about a family who wished for a daughter and ended up having a son. Thy hid the truth from everyone and raised him a girl. One day, a prince sees the 'girl' and falls in love. He asks the parents for her hand in marriage and they have to agree. I don't remember the ending, but he either got rescued on the way to the palace or he fell in love with a woman close to the prince... I'll look it up and get back to you (I haven't seen this plot here yet...)

Morgana Fata
Registered User
(5/14/07 6:54 pm)


Re: Traditional tales with gay or lesbian characters
If you can get your hands on a copy of the anthology Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters by Kathleen Ragan, there is a story (I think Czech) about a little girl who spins yarn in the woods every day and is approached by a wood maiden to dance with her. Typical 'didn't trust the fairy' and lost her help story, but I thought it had some lesbian undertones. The story is "The Wood Maiden."

Otherwise, go with the myths. Good luck!

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(5/15/07 7:47 pm)


Re: Traditional tales with gay or lesbian characters
There are a good number of fairy tales where the heroine dresses as a man, but as it is invariably to move about freely, I don't think it qualifies.

agathajun
Registered User
(5/18/07 8:42 am)


??
What about Andersen's The Snow Queen? I know it's literary, but I always noticed the particular heartiness of the Little Robber Girl's approach to Gerda, even when I was a child. She makes Gerda sleep with her, and, in Freudian terms there is some undercurrent with the use of knives and force.

(though applying Freudian analysis to fairytales can be a dangerously slippery slope, I know!)

Also, what about non-European tales? The dimmest of dim bells is chiming 'Inuit tradition', though with no particular reference.

Rosemary Lake
Registered User
(5/19/07 3:15 am)


dressing
[[ There are a good number of fairy tales where the heroine dresses as a man, but as it is invariably to move about freely, I don't think it qualifies. ]]

I agree. But as to 'to move about freely', how much of this do you think is free to travel widely without molestation, and how much is literal movement unhampered by skirts -- free to ride astride in trousers, heavy practical boots, etc?

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(5/19/07 3:42 pm)


Re: dressing
It's never because the clothing itself makes movement easier.

MaryCatelli
Registered User
(5/20/07 11:24 am)


Re: dressing
I note, however, that in a good number of the Child ballads, dressing as a man does have its limits: when a woman goes into labor, it's a bit hard to hide that you're a woman.

vlronn
Registered User
(5/20/07 3:38 pm)


Re: Traditional tales with gay or lesbian characters
Have you thought of Tiresias the blind prophet from the Odyssey? He was changed from a man to a woman and back again. In one version of the story, he was struck blind by Hera for claiming that women enjoyed sex more than men. Zeus then gave him the gift of prophecy.

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