- Why This Charming Gay Fairytale Has Been Lost For 200 Years
- Did Stith Thompson press “Delete” on vast chunks of LGBTQ history?
- The Dog And The Sailor is the gay fairytale where the male sailor, gets to kiss Prince Charming
- 9 Must-See LGBTQ Anime
- No. 6
- Sweet Blue Flowers
- Cheeky Angel
- Nabari No Ou
- Wandering Son
- Yuri!!! On ICE
- Revolutionary Girl Utena
- Yuri Kuma Arashi
Why This Charming Gay Fairytale Has Been Lost For 200 Years
“The Dog And The Sailor” is a gay fairytale lost for over 200 years, after it narrowly escaped being … [+] removed from history altogether
Pete Jordi Wood – The Dog And The Sailor
It’s long been presumed by many folklorists that heroic LGBTQ characters didn’t exist–because when they were told from generation to generation, being queer was a taboo.
But one newly released gay fairytale, that can be traced back to at least the 19th century has been discovered by Pete Jordi Wood, the Cornish writer and illustrator.
His research suggests that not only did gay fairytale “The Dog And The Sailor” exist but that a “whole chunk of LGBTQ folklore” was “deleted” by one homophobic man, as recently as the 1950s.
“We know that queer characters and stories were prevalent in mythology,” Pete tells me.
“There is some fascinating stuff about the origin of Mulan and how it’s actually a trans narrative. So why, particularly in European fairy tales, did queer characters suddenly, seemingly, disappear?”
The reason we don’t have much to point to is not that LGBTQ folklore didn’t exist, but because during a relatively short period of history–one of the most important folklore academics put his own morals into play when editing the most internationally renowned folklore collections.
“Before books, people told stories to one another, often around the fire. These stories would travel this way down generations and around the world,” Pete says.
One classic example is you can track early variants of Cinderella to China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE.)
But this kind of storytelling came to an abrupt halt with the invention of the printing press. People stopped telling tales, in part because they became more literate and read books instead.
Pete Jordi Wood – The Dog And The Sailor is a release of the folklore story The Dog And The Sea as … [+] edited by Stith Thompson
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It is challenging to trace stories further back than the 19th century because it wasn’t until the 1800’s that “Folklorists” became a fully-fledged academic discipline.
Around the Industrial revolution, and the invention of the printing press, some of the earliest Folklorists began to create collections of folklores.
Capitalising on listening to storytellers, they began writing down and publishing their stories as collections. This sparked a considerable push to catalogue stories, from about 1850-1900, before they were lost forever, as people began to read instead of pass stories from generation to generation.
And this is where Pete says the filtering of LGBTQ characters began to occur.
“Over one hundred years, very few people edited a catalogue of the world’s folklore with a system which logs different variations of tales across borders around the world,” Pete says.
They used the Aarne Thompson Uther Tale Type Index, to catalogue certain folktales by their structure and assigns them AT (Arne Thompson) numbers.
Stith Thompson, an American Scholar and Folklorist, one half of the duo who created this system then got to work on cataloguing, which is where of monumentally erased much of LGBTQ folklore.
“Unfortunately by his own accounts, Stith Thompson brought with him to the editing his own sense of right and wrong.
“In the accompanying Motif Index of Folklore he compiled in the 1920s, and revised in the 1950s, he lists ‘Homosexuality’ and ‘Lesbianism’ in a section called “Unnatural Perversions” with bestiality and incest. Open about his views he admits he omitted many stories in the catalogue because they were ‘perverse’ or ‘unnatural,’” Pete says.
“One dude. One guy got to choose what stories did or didn’t make the cut in what is now the core resource and system for documenting folklore in an order still used today.
Much gay folklore was lost when Sith Thompson and other prolific folklore academics imposed their … [+] own morals and the stories they heard when they edited them for their collections
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Did Stith Thompson press “Delete” on vast chunks of LGBTQ history?
In a matter of speaking yes, but not entirely. His folklore collections remain rife with maligned evil LGBTQ characters who, rape, pillage and murder.
“Unfortunately, Stith Thompson was all too happy to put LGBTQ folk tales into his catalogues if the queers got bashed up, imprisoned, sent to hell or murdered. Or worse, that they were predatory and evil.”
But there is light at the end of this historical tale – one story about a Prince and a sailor who fall in love has survived.
Studying for a Masters degree in Illustration at Falmouth University, and sick and tired of the ‘Hero’s Journey’ Pete re-read Stith Thompson’s folk tale catalogues.
And he found something Thompson had missed, something inherently queer.
The Dog And The Sea is an ancient story, only reimagined with new illustrations, that truly depicted … [+] a positive queer story that was passed from generation to generation over 200 years ago
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The Dog And The Sailor is the gay fairytale where the male sailor, gets to kiss Prince Charming
Stith Thompson’s six-volume Motif-Index of Folk-Literature is considered the international key to traditional material.
“So I looked at over 600 tales in the archive, reading from a queer perspective. And finally, any good fairy tale, my wish to find my Prince Charming came true.
“I found this weird-ass tale type called “The Dog and the Sea” which existed in multiple languages, but not in English.”
So after translating variations of the story from Danish, German, Frisian, and others; and checking Thompson’s synopsis was correct, containing the same elements or motifs – Pete found an “unbelievably and fabulously gay” plot.
“You’ve got this guy who wants to be a sailor who goes on this great adventure, wining the hand in marriage of a handsome prince.
“The witch in it is fabulous, and ridiculously beautiful–a nice twist on the ugly old hag routine. The sailor’s mother is overprotective and funny. There’s a bunch of sexual innuendos. Plus the prince is a total dreamboat.
“Ultimately it’s an ancient tale with a positive portrayal, of a guy who can be read as gay or asexual, but certainly queer, who is the only person who can defeat the evil because he can resist her beauty.
“I mean hello, Disney, please make this movie!”
This hidden gem has been available in collections all across Europe, for over a hundred years, in print. But Pete got ‘gay goosebumps’ when he realised what he’d found.
“When I started to recount it to my gay friends, they got goosebumps too. I’m pretty sure goosebumps is an accurate measure of the fact a story is kind of special.
“We don’t know when The Dog and the Sea were first told, but it would ly be far older than the 1800’s when it was first written down in words.
“What I draw from it is how much it resonates with today’s world. Not just the queer aspects, but a story about male mental health, austerity, and even climate change. If it was groundbreaking, then, whenever it first surfaced in history, in many ways, it still is.
And does Prince Charming get his kiss at the end?
It depends on whether you read Pete’s adult or child variation of this lost queer fairytale re-born. But both come as an ever more non-binary generation are hungry to know more about their long lost queer history.
“The Dog and the Sailor” is available now with an accompanying online, 3D interactive exhibition of the artwork, narrated by Years and Years actor Dino Fetscher.
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9 Must-See LGBTQ Anime
LGBTQ anime isn’t a new genre. Yet many titles within the genre don’t focus on the daily struggles that people in the LGBTQ community go through. However, there are some anime that focus on gender identity, LGBTQ relationships, or sexual orientation – either as a backstory or major plot point – in a more respectful way. Here are nine anime titles that do just that.
No. 6 takes place in and around a seemingly utopian city called No. 6. On Shion’s 12th birthday, he finds an injured young boy named Nezumi, aka Rat, in his room.
After nursing Nezumi’s wounds, Shion finds out that Nezumi is an escaped prisoner.
Unwilling to give up Nezumi’s whereabouts – due to an unexplainable bond between the two – the government strips Shion’s privileges and banishes him and his mother to the lower levels of the city.
Four years later, the two meet again, but this time, they are about to embark on an adventure to uncover the secrets of No. 6.
Although the series centers around the city’s secrets, the anime also sheds light on gender identity and the close relationship between the two boys.
Sweet Blue Flowers
Sweet Blue Flowers tells the story of Fumi Manjōme, an introverted, intelligent teenage girl dealing with a bad breakup, and Akira Okudaira, a first-year high school student. After ten years, the two girls reconnect. Together, they try to help each other go through romantic relationships and figure out their sexual identity.
On the surface, the series appears to be your typical lesbian anime, but, in actuality, it’s devoid of the standard tropes of the genre.
The series focuses on the relationships between all its characters — including side characters — instead of only focusing on the protagonists. Viewers get the opportunity to see not only love affairs but also true childhood friendships, not the kind typically used as a vehicle for the characters to fall in love with each other.
On top of that, there are several male characters involved in the protagonists’ lives, which is rare in a yuri series. All of this makes Sweet Blue Flowers a relatable and realistic portrayal of modern relationships.
Cheeky Angel is a 50-episode series centered around a beautiful girl named Megumi. She’s so stunning that some people even call her an “angel” (hence the title). However, behind that beautiful face lies a shocking secret: Megumi used to be a boy!
When Megumi was nine, he came across a magic book with a genie inside. When blood is applied to the book, the genie grants one wish. So, Megumi made a wish to be the manliest man in the world, but instead, the genie transformed him into a woman.
A few years later, Megumi is an attractive high school student who’s still a boy inside. Miki, Megumi’s best friend who is a girl, tries to turn Megumi into a sophisticated young woman, but Megumi is determined to stay in touch with her masculine side.
Cheeky Angel addresses several gender identity questions, such as, what does it mean to be a woman or a man and how does a person decide who they are inside?
Nabari No Ou
Miharu is a mischievous boy who unknowingly possesses a powerful technique known as hijutsu – a skill that many ninja clans desire to become the ruler of the ninja world.
One day, Miharu’s classmate Kouichi and English teacher, Kumohira, start a new club called “Way of the Ninja.” They both try to persuade Miharu to join the club, but he keeps rejecting them. Unbeknownst to him, both Kouichi and Kumihora are Banten clan ninja.
After numerous ninja attacks, Miharu has no choice but to join their club as a means of survival.
Bit by bit, Miharu comes to understand the powerful technique that he possesses, and for him to survive these attacks, he has to become the ruler of Nabari.
Although the premise of Nabari No Ou is Miharu’s hidden technique, it also focuses on bisexual and homosexual relationships between the characters.
Wandering Son is one of the highest-rated LGBTQ anime around. The series follows Shuichi, a shy preteen boy who transfers to a new school. There he meets the tomboyish Yoshino who sits at the desk next to him. Soon they become great friends and discover they share one thing in common — they are both transgender.
The two classmates become close friends and learn to deal with the realities of growing up, transsexuality, relationships, and acceptance. The journey of Shuichi and Yoshino serve to educate viewers about gender identity as it addresses gender identity themes through both of these characters.
Yuri!!! On ICE
Yuri!!! On ICE became popular in the fall of 2016 and reached our list of best anime of the year. And although there are many reasons for Yuri’s success — animation, soundtrack, choreography — it was the relationship between the two main characters that made the series revolutionary and famous.
The bond between Yuri Katsuki and Victor Nikiforov did not fall prey to the cliches plaguing Yaoi (Boys’ Love) and Yuri genre (Girls Love). Instead, the gay anime series offered a view on the emotional rollercoaster ride of a couple who help each other out and support one another through major life obstacles.
Revolutionary Girl Utena
While Revolutionary Girl Utena has received much praise due to its LGBTQ themes, the series goes much deeper than that.
After Utena’s parents died, a traveling prince consoles her and gives her a ring bearing a strange rose crest. Moved by this mysterious prince’s chivalry, Utena vows to become a prince herself one day.
A few years later, Utena attends Ohtori Academy where she dresses in a boy’s uniform so she can be the prince she met long ago.
Aside from breaking gender stereotypes, Utena participates in a dangerous duel for a unique prize: the Rose Bride, Anthy Himemiya, and her mysterious powers. But, as she gets closer to Anthy, she must now fight for her friend’s safety and discover the dark secret that the Academy holds.
Revolutionary Girl Utena, in every sense of the word, revolutionized the anime industry. The series explores a range of themes from feminism to queer topics to deconstructing the prince fairytale genre.
a popular manga of the same name, Citrus follows Yuzu Aihara, a fashionable teenage girl who is set on finding romance and make new friends. However, her dreams come crashing down when her mother remarries and transfers Yuzu to an all-girls school.
To make matters worse, the uptight student council president, Mei, continually harasses her. And on top of that, she happens to be Yuzu’s new step-sister.
However, as the two girls start sharing a bedroom and getting to know each other better, Yuzu discovers new feelings towards Mei.
While Citrus isn’t the perfect representation of same-sex relationships, viewers can still empathize and relate to the main characters.
Through Mei and Yuzu, viewers can partially explore serious topics that LGBTQ people go through, such as, emotional trauma, societal expectations, and sexual assault.
And although the series has its dark moments, it also has many cute and funny scenes. The anime is the perfect combination of entertainment with a touch of realism.
Yuri Kuma Arashi
From Kunihiko Ikuhara, the creator and director of Revolutionary Girl Utena, Yuri Kuma Arashi is set in a world where bears that have gained human-level intelligence and crave human flesh.
So, humanity creates giant walls separating them from the outside world. Despite the barrier, bears can still break in and feast on humans.
When Kureha’s mother falls victim to one of the bear attacks, Kureha decides to seek revenge for the attack.
Kureha soon falls in love with her classmate, Sumika, but the crush is cut short when Sumika also dies from a bear attack. Meanwhile, two girls, Ginko and Lulu, transfer to Kureha’s school, but there’s more going on than meets the eye.
Yuri Kuma Arashi uses a lot of metaphors and allegories to explore the difficulties that LGBTQ people face in Japan. Through Kureha, we see how someone who doesn’t follow societal norms gets shunned and excluded. Not only that, the series is filled with visual symbolism, from the wall keeping humans and bears apart to its use of lilies to represent the anime’s lesbian characters.