Reply re: Your Blue Feather Concerns

Gunnora Hallakarva gunnora at
Tue Dec 3 10:43:22 PST 1996

Heilsa, Dieter

Dieter said:
>I have been sexually mature for ten years or so.  I dont think I have ever
>worn a badge/shield/emblem/t-shirt that said: "Im straight and proud!" or
>even "I support straight people!"  Never felt the need to publish it. With
>the exception of only a _very_ few- mostly overridden with insecurities,
>IMHO- I cant think of any straight folks who would ever do any of those
>things either.  

Gunnora replies:
Well, the nice thing about being straight is that there aren't too many
people who are willing to go around beating you up, killing you or taking
away your civil rights because of your sexual orientation.  Sociologically,
gay and lesbians are what are termed a subcultue (just as the SCA is itself
another subculture).  I have found over the years that, although my primary
identity was as a Viking scholar medievalist rather than as a lesbian, the
World In General has insisted on intruding with many political and social
jabs that have forced me to respond in political and social ways.  From
talking with other queers, this is a pretty wide-spread perception.  As a
result, gay/lesbian/bi social groups tend to form in a variety of mileus
(sp?) as a support group.  

I am very glad that you've never had to deal with straight people who are so
insecure about gay people (or about their own location on the Kinsey Scale)
that they resort to verbal and/or physical gay bashing.  Or to supporting
legislation that gnaws away gay civil rights.  Or to sending money to right
wind preachers who literally advicate on the radio to burn, beat, kill,
stomp and otherwise eradicate queers.

Another aspect is that there is nothing more uncomfortable to a gay or
lesbian than to have to wonder whether or not it is safe to even admit that
one is gay or lesbian.  In some places the mere admission cabn result in
adverse legal action, fines, penalties, imprisonment, and not the least,
beatings and harassment.  Some people take the information to mean that the
person who has just told them that they're gay is hitting on them, and
respond badly as well.  Blue Feather is nice to have as a contact
organization, because you know the members, whether gay or straight and "gay
friendly" are safe, and Blue Feather activities provide a "Safe" space in
which to be yourself.

As I mentioned in my post, I don't know that Ansteorra needs or wants a more
structured guild/household/formal activities.  That's what I'm trying to
find out.  But I also do want to reach anyone who is gay/lesbian/bi/other
who is "in the closet" because they are AFRAID to come out in the SCA in
Ansteorra.  That also includes being a contact point for gay/lesbian/bis in
other kingdoms who plan on moving here who want to know how the various
areas are mundanely in terms of gay-bashing, and how the various groups
accept or do not accept queers. 

As to being "necessary", well, I know that at least one Ansteorran feels
that he or she is not safe mundanely, and is cautious even within the SCA:
>>I still do not consider it safe to be out here in Stephenville (we're only 20
>>miles from the local KKK capital), but I am starting to come out to my SCA
>>friends. (Quote extracted from another post I received in response to the
Blue Feather notice on the Ansteorran list)

Dieter asks:
>Why Clan Blue Feather?  You posted the goals of the organization, I know,
>but I can only really understand part of it- and dimly at that:

Gunnora replies:
See above.

Quoted from the original Blue Feather post to the Ansteorran List:
>The primary reason for the establishment of Blue Feather, and for its
>continued existence is education: to encourage and facilitate research on
>homosexuality in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, 

Dieter said:
>This is the part I get...I've often been labled the 'Authenticity Cop' of
>armor.  I *love* persona play.  I also enjoy researching aspects of the
>Middle Ages that are pertinent to my lifestyle i.e. hunting, cooking, and
>clothing of the 15th C. so I can relate to this desire.  Everything after
>that loses me completely, though...

Yep.  Homosexuality in the Viking Age is my particular specialty.  The Norse
WERE the Rednecks of Ancient Europe.

More quoted from the original Blue Feather post to the Ansteorran List:
>and to teach other members of the Society about homosexuality in the Current
>Middle Ages.

Dieter asks:
>Why is this necessary? Nobody teaches straight people about straight people
>in the Current Middle Ages, do they?  Also, why do I or any other people
>need to know who's doing what in which bedroom at all?  I certainly dont
>wish to share my marital affairs with the world.  I strongly feel that
>*most* people wouldnt want to hear about them anyway!  And in a like manner,
>I really dont need to know what others are doing behind closed doors, either.  

Gunnora replies:
Actually, I didn't write the goal statements, but adopted them from
established Blue Feather doctrine.  By having a formal structure, with
(hopefully) better-educated members and contacts who are up on gay issues
and medieval gay history, we will have folks who can deal with (1) anyone
who has questions about a) gayness in general b) socioreligious questions
(2) those hostile to queers in general  (hopefully defusing their
anger/hostility via education, although "Roseanne" and "Friends" have done
more along that line than I will ever do (3) gay people who need info as
described above. 

We aren't talking about bedroom activities.  Although the folks (usually my
close friends) who ask me questions MOST OFTEN ask "What do you guys
actually 'DO'?" ... prurient interest does exist.  Sometimes I get questions
from folks who think they're bi and want to do some Q & A before they take
the leap off the precipice and try it themselves.  Most questions have to do
with "what terminology is it OK to use? What would be offensive?" or,  "Can
I say X to Lord so-and-so without him taking it as a pass?" or even "Lady
Thus-and-Such needs a girlfriend, can you help us do some matchmaking!?"  

The largest class of "Current Middle Ages" questions, though are from queers
asking (1) where are other queers in the kingdom who I can talk to/party
with/do things mudanely with? (2) I'm moving to Ansteorra... where's the
best cities to live in as far as either mundane or SCA gay activities and
folks are concerned? (3) I'm moving to Ansteorra, where are areas that I
should avoid due to gay bashing, prejudice, and physical danger to myself
and my loved ones?

What we DO need to educate people about in terms of the Current Middle Ages
is that the gays/lesbians/bis in the SCA are just like any other Bjorn or
Fionna... we are just folks.  Knowing us as people makes it much more
difficult to demonize us for what we do out of your line of sight (ie, the
bedroom stuff you don't care to know about).  There are right wing
politicians and religious authorities bombarding the airwaves daily with
flat out instructions to beat up, harrass, stigmatize and demonize queers.
And they are very successfully whittling away our civil rights in many
states (although thankfully not very much so so far in Ansteorra).  Never
mind the fact that most queers live their lives quietly and productively,
making a positive impact (or at least not a negative one) on the world
around us... there are people who, because theyu DO NOT know us as
individuals feel free to harm us in way too many ways.

Dieter said:
>You said yourself that gays in the SCA are commonplace nowadays- this has
>been my experience as well.  That said, the 'social organization' you speak
>about doesnt scan with me either.  If _I_ can name twenty gay or bisexual
>Ansteorrans- and my wife claims Im absolutely obtuse about noticing- I fail
>to see why gays here have any more need of a 'mixer' group than straight
>people.  I suppose this also keys in with my point above but its worth stating.

Gunnora replies:
I don't know about "commonplace"... studies have shown that queers make up
approximately 10% of the population, although not all of that 10% may
acknowledge or act on their orientation.  Social mixers give us a time and a
place for meeting potential lovers and spouses.  It is my experience that it
is almost impossible for a marriage to survive the SCA unless both members
are involved.  When you have one member of a marriage in, the usual outcomes
are: (1) the other spouse joins the SCA, (2) the active spouse drops out of
the SCA, (3) a divorce occurs.  It is very difficult (and I speak from
personal experience here) to find potential spouses who are "SCA-compatible"
outside the SCA.  Certainly the average gay bar is not a good place to meet
like-minded medievalist queers.  

Also, mixers give us a chance to show appreciation to our straight friends
who support us in so many ways.  Many of the Blue Feather Balls have a mixed
straight-gay attendance.  No one throws a party like an out-there queen.  So
another purpose is just to have fun.  You really want to turn down an
opportunity for some really fun parties?

More quoted from the original Blue Feather post to the Ansteorran List:
>We also exist as a social organization, to facilitate interaction among the
>members of the Society, especially those who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual.

Dieter commented:
>Now maybe its just that we straight folks arent as motivated to get our
>singles together... or maybe its that we dont have as much pride about our
>orientation...  or maybe its that were just too touchy about our activities
>in the bedroom... but I really feel I have a point here.   

Gunnora replies:
See above.

Dieter asks:
>Okay, Gunnora; s'plain pleeze... help this young pup understand.  I hope I
>dont offend you with my views- thats not my intention.  If I had some sort
>of agenda at all, it would be that people would just quit discussing their
>sexual appetite at all- I dont want to know.

Gunnora replies:
Impossible to offend me, unless you start serious bashing activities off the
list field.  We're not discussing our naughty parts.  "Gayness" is as much a
lifestyle as anything, and because of the world we live in most
gays/lesbians/bis are forced to be constantly aware of our differences.
Things like mixers and social groups give us solidarity, and also let others
become aware of who we are.  One of the most gut-wrenching experiences for a
gay person is to tell an old friend that you're gay... and to have them
suddenly react to you as if you had contracted leprosy.  Most people don't
react this way, thank heavens, because it's hard to hate someone who you've
liked/admired/palled around with for years just because they've discovered
something new about themselves.  It IS easy to hate and demonize the
abstract of "Them Queers Out There," though, so any action we take as a
social class or subculture to allow the folks around us to see that "We are
just like you outside the bedroom (and if the truth be known, not that
different inside the bedroom)" helps others to get rid of the negative
perceptions they may have held.

Above all, though, Dieter, if the idea disturbs you, Don't Participate.  If
we do hold an Ansteorran Blue Feather Ball, don't attend.  Unless, of
course, you want to come and have a great time with a bunch of folks who you
interact every weekend with any way... you're always welcome!

Wassail and God Jul,

Gunnora Hallakarva
Ek eigi visa (th)ik hversu o(dh)lask Lofstirrlauf-Kruna
heldr hversu na Hersis-A(dh)al

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