13 responses to “Are Elves Gay?”

  1. binkythebomb

    Probably one of the most interesting questions about Elves to be fair, because you can’t really explain their mindset without ruining the races mystique.

    I always think of it in terms of species. Elves are the closest thing you can get to in most fantasy settings to true ‘aliens’ without adding limbs and other strange body parts. They look like humans with some superficial body changes (pointy ears, almond eyes) but are socially and mentally different, which leads many to view them as ‘arrogant, sham-humans’.

    My roleplay group (Warhammer and other systems) all view Elves in whatever game we play as the same thing, hedonistic joy seekers whose back story is always the same (got bored at home, went wandering), and their sexual views are always the same, bisexual and interspecies.

    Not sure if that is a comment on elves themselves or my roleplay group, but I mention it for comparison purposes.

    For me, I view Elves as ‘Aliens who look a lot like humans’, they have specific points of similarity but whose evolution is far different from our own. I do not consider their interactions as sexual, because they are very different from a human mindset that a lot of their views simply do not translate in our species.

    Hence: Alien.

    There is also the age gap between species, the maturity of each race in view of the evolutionary pace and the drives that make them different. In all honesty, we cannot truly comprehend just ‘what’ elf sexuality is, because you simply cannot compare Elf and Human culturally, only register the gap between them.

    There is also the emotional gap, what drives us does not necessarily drive them, and what we would consider some minor sexual quirk in human terms may be a simple gesture of affection and respect between two friends or compatriots. Again, the whole ‘alien’ argument.

    Sorry if this all seems a little jumbled, but here is a comparison I think will help.

    Think Star Trek. Think Humans and Vulkan’s. Think of the differences between the two cultures. Vulkan’s are Elves (Space Elves… you’d be surprised how often I get a ‘I never thought of it before’ from Sci-fi fans with this example).

    Think of the sexual hang-ups of the Vulkan race, having to use Logical reasoning to control their emotional state because they lack the maturity and social restraint of humans. Its much the same with elves I feel, having to wrap up their emotional states with care and diligence because they are A) very powerful, and B) can consume them if they dare explore their depths.

    Its a social hang-up, something to keep them all in check and focused on the wider problem of self control. Warhammer has the three elven factions, High, Wood and Dark, the three degrees of control. Lots, moderate and none.

    I could go on, but I think this should be more a point of debate rather than a personal views lecture. (re-reads) okay, its too late, it pretty much IS a lecture by now. Ah well, hope this confuses the issues for people.

  2. Druchii Monkey

    I think the fantasy setting allows for exploration of more than just Gay or not, which is pretty black and white. As i understand it Spartan society had homosexual acts as parts of some of their rites of passage, but i’m not sure of the evidence for this being more widespread to the extent of being a cultural norm? To my mind nothing in the Elves makes them more likely to be Gay than other races, but that said amongst followers of Slaanesh there must be more likelihood to carry out homosexual acts surely, and there are more Elves in this category than Dwarves are there not?

  3. Sieglinde

    I view elves in the Warhammer IP to have societal values most humans cannot understand. They evolved with a different physiology, a longer lifespan, and under a different set of circumstances.

    I don’t view the Asur as being overtly sexual on the norm. It seems to me they are more reserved, and respectful,towards whatever path an elf is taking to find spiritual contentment. A personal relationship with another is just one of life’s many options, whether it is with a male or female. Same for having children, living alone concentrating on a profession, becoming a part of the military, whatever. I believe they are reserved in this manner as they don’t want to interfere in another’s journey.

    You will find some though that want to experience more and more, and get caught up in the process. These would be the likely candidates for the Cult of Pleasure. Perhaps for some overcoming boredom becomes harder and harder. I know how bored I get just trying to find a good tv channel to watch, I don’t even want to imagine the elf who has to live a thousand years with such a limited amount of forms of entertainment.

    Druchii are a strange case, as they have quite a few conflicting values in their society, which will eventually come to some sort of a clash between the Khainites and those of the Cult of Pleasure, made much more interesting by how some seem to be involved in both. It also depends on which version of th elore you look at, as it seems from the first edition to 7th druchii have gone from being more sexually oriented to a more bloodthirsty, violent race. I picture in my mind a balance between the two, right or wrong, as it seems more natural than either extreme if you want to continue having any sort of functioning society.

    I would think though, that their view on “gay” is the same as the Asur, but for different reasons. Relationships are viewed as a weakness, something that can and will eventually be betrayed. So while they might have sexual encounters of various kinds and reasons, they are likely to be more closed about them least a competitor find out this information and use it against them.

  4. Mortemer

    Just a clarification. In Sparta homosexual acts were banished by death or exile for both lovers. In Athens things were more free, but the sexual acts were a frequency for the higher classes of the city (mostly), as is shown in Aristophanes’s comedies. Moreover, the whole case of Erastes and Eromenos, as is presented by Plato in “Symposium” is a matter of schollary debate, that is impossible to analyze and discuss here.
    Regarding Alexander the great there is no metnion in any of the ancient sources regarding him being bisexual – these are later assumptions of modern day historians and “historians”. This is not even implied in any of the ancient “biographers” (ie. Plutarch, Arrian, Diodorus, curtius etc). Same thing for Julius Caesar, not him nor anyone says or implies something like this about him (Plutarch, Suetonius,Appian etc). In the case of these two men, the quite opposite could be said with all the wives and lovers they had. Homosexual practises were present both in ancient Greece and Rome; this message was just to try and clarify some misconceptions.

    1. Druchii Monkey

      My understanding is that such acts did happen between Spartan youths going through the Agoge system and their mentors. My source is a BBC documentary by Bettany Hughes.

      The documentary is possibly a little sensationalist in parts but seemed to be well researched.

      1. Mortemer

        You could check anciemt sources such as Pausanias, Plutarch and Thucedides and others. This is mentioned anywhere. You could also check books of Paul Cartledge; he is a professor in Oxford University and consided the best scholar worlwide on the history of Ancient Sparta.

        According to agoge each youth had to chose an elder Spartan, called “omoios”, who was a full spartan citizen. This elder was responsible for this youth’s education in life and military aspects, up till his coming of age. This is misintrpreted by later shcolars mostly (you can check info about Erastes and Eromenos in Plato’s Symposium – sometimes it’s difficult to say the difference between what was later called platonic love and sexual love), but there were not any sexual acts involved between those two. In fact sexual acts would be punishable even by death in these cases. I can imagine that some exceptions to the rule would exist, as in any society, but officialy and at large these things did not happen in Sparta. As regards to Athens and other city states fo the time that’s another thing.

        Its’ a huge topic to start and analyze here.

    2. sezax

      That is not true. The history is in this case very similar to zoology. Both these sciences were bound by social norms to censor, destroy and ,,misinterpret” all information about such a taboo until very recently. It is actually surprising how many sources about homosexuality in Ancient Cultures are to be found even after 2000 years of reign of monotheistic religions.

      Even today this trend slightly continues on academic ground, but since pederasty and other homoerotic actions were so omnipresent in realms such as Ancient Greece, you can never fully destroy references to such topics without destroying practically all historical sources (it is like if our descendants tried for 2000 years to convince themselves through censorship, that our generations never used plastics, after 2000 years and after only a short period of enlightenment most people will believe that only few freaks in our times used abominations such as plastic bottles, many will even believe there were no plastic bottles among their ,,noble ancestors” and just some among the ancestors of their hated wicked enemies BUT a minority among both academic and common people will actually look at films and tv series from our times and not convince themselves that Julia Roberts is in that classical historical film drinking just from some strange ,,glass” bottle).

      Nothing in the history is absolutely reliable, but bisexual behavior of Caesar, Alexander and Spartans is as sure as it can be in a set of lies of the victorious called history. Of course you can easily find many respected historians, who will claim that homosexuality was not common thing in any period of history just as you can find many scientists, who will claim evolution does not exist, but such claims are motivated strictly by their moral code, beliefs and prejudice, not by neutral academic research on that matter.

      It is very easy to claim that Sparta punished homosexuality by death even if you support it only by referencing to some short specific period or by nothing at all. It is easy to claim homosexuality in Rome was controversial, if you ,,forget” to say it was only if you were both highborne and known submissive in anal intercourse. It is even easier to make Disney-like movies such as Gladiator or 300 and pretend that only few effeminate degenerate hedonistic freaks or the ,,soft” people of Athens did that. Or you can very easily pretend that all those homoerotic things were just a masculine kind of bonding among ancient ,,bros”. But it’s a lie. Truth does not win because of moral advantage. Truth wins because every lie is artificial, you have to put energy, time and resources into creating it and sustaining it. And no ideology is on top forever.

      For example Gods and Heroes of Antiquity by Vojtech Zamarovsky is an excellent book, extremely respected among academics. But just as zoologist sometimes marks 9 homosexual intercourses among giraffes as a ,,mere social binding” and the 1 brief physical contact as ,,heterosexual intercourse”, so does Zamarovsky in his whole huge book pretend that homosexuality does not exist. Its not just that he names 43 female lovers and not even one of male lovers of Zeus or Apollo, he does not mention such topic even once in those huge chapters about Ganymedes or Antinous, which is like describing David Beckham without referring to football.

      Easiest way to confirm facts about Spartans etc. is sadly through earliest homophobic propaganda of catholic church, which clearly describes how common was homoerotic behavior so many centuries ago.

      1. Mortemer

        Oh man, this could go on forever. I could make a list of ancient and modern historians/philosophers with views on the subject but this is just a blog of an entirely different subject. It has no meaning.

        I think that perhaps you have misintepreted what I wanted to say (or perhaps not). The best – and only – sources we have are the ancient writings. What we know is what we can deduct from these, not leave out. In some cases back then and in our days people jump to conclusions that fit to their ideas; they try to make the “truth” as they want it or comprehend it. This has to do with all matters of life.

  5. Matt Keefe

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pointing out that neither Games Workshop nor Black Library are particularly well set up for (or have any kind of track record in) dealing with any sexual aspects of culture. I’m sure there are plenty of intelligent fans minded to try and analyse things that way but the purposes for which the background has historically been required don’t really demand it. Just one of those things.

    It’s generally the case that people are increasingly cognisant of themes relating to sexuality even where that isn’t a principal part of the discussion, just like people are more aware of issues of gender and race (and very good questions about the depiction or inclusion of both of those themes can be asked of Black Library and the Warhammer World too, without saying that anyone has been doing anything ‘wrong’ heretofore; it’s just changes in awareness) so it might be that people writing even for what are (or were) at heart relatively unassuming fantasy worlds like those that have grown up around hobbies like toy soldiers might now need to think about. Or they might not. There’s certainly nothing wrong with saying, for now, that the answer is basically, “Never really thought about it.” I’m pretty sure that’s true of most of those involved.

    Going looking for precedents in whichever cultures might have inspired the elves or might have ended up analogous to them is probably misleading anyway – those cultures weren’t picked as models for their sexual cultures, and those aspects weren’t really called upon in any way I can think of; if they were, let’s be honest, going back thirty or even forty years now, there’s every chance it might well have been on the basis of the kind of derogatory ‘under the table’ assumption of exactly the kind you mention. Fortunately that hasn’t really surfaced as part of the elf stereotype, but I don’t think the answer to the question is to be found in precedent. It’s something people would be thinking about now, if at all.

  6. Johnny

    When I read fantasy, I want heroism and tall tales and I really wish to leave behind society and all its bothering questions.

    I think it is really annoying that even in a fantasy setting, some people are bringing this kind of debate.

    Are there limits to LGBT activism and lobbyism?

    1. Sieglinde

      I am not a member of the lbgt community, but as a writer and as a role player, I find the question legitimate. Understanding how elven society and their mores and social values work makes it easier to portray them a bit more accurately, and as more than just generic card board characters. Mind you, this is only one small facet of the elven make-up, but it is one that gets asked quite a bit by gamers.

      Many of the Warhammer Black Library books also go beyond just standard army meets army, hero meets villain , story lines. Riders of the Dead, for example, did quite a bit of exploration of both Kislevite and Norscan society and how they compare to those born not only from the Empire, but from different levels of society. Mark of Damnation posed the question “what would a person do to survive”. Even Gav’s Malus books look at the druchii houses and their roles in dark elf society. I, for one, am thankful for these stories, and appreciate them not only for the conflict and strife we know and love from the IP, but also for lore that comes along with them.

      1. Gav Thorpe

        Just a slight correct – The Malus character was created by Dan Abnett and the novels written by Mike Lee. As much as I’d like to take the credit and payments for them, I can’t…

        > Date: Fri, 14 Dec 2012 16:55:26 +0000 > To: gav.thorpe@hotmail.co.uk >

  7. SÓLO EL ACERO: La pluma es más poderosa que la espada. | El Almohadón de Plumas

    […] referente a la representación de cualquier tipo de sexualidad, como bien nos explica Gav Thorpe en este curioso artículo sobre la posible homosexualidad de los elfos del universo Warhammer. Ya se sabe que los jóvenes […]

Leave a Reply