(Guest Post) A Gay Man’s Take on Loras and His Situation

Posted: May 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

Loras-and-Olyvar-Smile

Sorry D&D, I’m pissed.

I don’t really post on here much but I’m a huge fan. Love the books, love the show, and I feel like I’ve enjoyed just about all the changes they’ve made this season (RIP Ser Grandpa). However, I cannot and will not defend the show’s portrayal of Ser Loras Tyrell.

Loras is one of my favorite characters in the books, in big part because (like many other of GRRM’s characters) he breaks the mold and stereotype. He’s a well-respected fighter, member of the Kingsguard, and a cocky, solemn guy who happened to be deeply in love with Renly.

In the show Loras is ……gay. That’s it.

In the first two seasons he was a fighter and a lover, definitely. I’m still disappointed they left out this amazing scene of him grieving, but it seems any ounce of character development has gone out the window since Renly died. This episode is the first time I’ve seen him with a sword since easily season 3.

I don’t think I would be so upset if they hadn’t been playing other side characters so well. Margaery has become an amazingly complex, self-motivating queen. Pod has layers and development. Even Grey Worm has a love story and shows real emotions.

I seriously doubt we’ll hear “When the sun has set, no candle can replace it” anytime soon (although I’d be very happy to be proved wrong).

But none of that is anything new. He’s been whiny and gay and politically incapable for two or three seasons. Now, why do I care tonight?

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Enter the Faith Militant on steroids: Now that we’ve got our rags, spears, and malnourished-yet-strangely-buff men let’s go kill and harass those sinners. The drunks, the whores, and can’t forget the gays!

Seriously?

There’s so much wrong with that last part that it hurts (accosting prostitutes and drunks is another rant).

  1. The most obvious bit: in no way, shape, or form is homosexuality viewed directly as a sin in the eyes of the Seven in the novels. From TWOIAF: When it comes to matters of love, that a man might lie with another man, or a woman lie with another woman, is likewise not cause for concern; while the Septons have often wished to shepherd the Dornishmen to the righteous path, they have had little effect. GRRM has stated that the Faith frowns upon homosexuality, but views it as a minor sin. So, in the TV show, the only reason for this addition seems to be so they can capture Loras. But if that was necessary, why not have Olyvar killed for running a brothel and have Loras captured when he fights back in anger??? You get the “look Loras is gay” and “look the Faith doesn’t f*** around”, but also his character is vengeful and can fight and is grieving another lost lover.
  2. When I watch my favorite series about a fantasy world why the hell do I need to see guys being accosted for being gay (especially, again, when IT IS TOTALLY UNNECESSARY)? I don’t feel more attached to the character because of it. At best I feel pandered to in some sort of weird pity, at worst I’m outright offended.
  3. It’s assumed the viewer will connect the dots when Cersei and the High Sparrow have their little talk. By saying “may the Seven judge him fairly” (paraphrase) and the ensuing sack of the brothel it’s a given that they’re hunting down the gays, including the big guy himself, Loras Tyrell. They never say it out loud, but it’s a given that the viewer knows why they’re after him. And that’s the worst part.

The show has effectively equated the hyper-religious with gay haters. And they drew upon the viewer’s own consciousness to make that connection. I’m sure probably 90% of viewers pretty quickly said “yeah they’re arresting him cause he’s gay, makes sense” without giving it any more thought. I mean, that’s what the episode clearly wants us to think.

Loras #1

But how f***ed is that?!?!?!? I mean this hails back to bigger ideas and intrinsic issues with our society but we’re just supposed to make that connection and keep going with the rest of our Westerosi shenanigans. Again this is fantasy, why can’t our religion just not care about sexuality? Even worse, there might be a small contingent that at least partially agrees with Loras’s treatment – and now they’re having that crap perpetuated on-screen.

After tonight’s episode I’m offended, I’m disappointed, and I’m pissed. And I’d be really surprised if I were the only one.

I’ll say it again, my biggest problem here is the arrest of Loras and persecution of the gays by the Faith Militant, and the fact that this was not in the books. It was added exclusively for the show, and seems to be just a plot device to deal a blow to the Tyrells and drive hate for the Militant. Again this addition feels like pandering at best and ignorant on most levels.

Now let me respond to a few of the questions:

“Why shouldn’t the Faith Militant be anti-gay? This is a medieval society/they’re religious fanatics, obviously they hate gays.”

1) Why is that a necessity for a medieval society? This is a fantasy world, where book canon says homosexuality in court is at worst the butt of some snide remarks and a disappointment for powerful families who need heirs – never illegal or a sin. And even if you’re looking at European history there were plenty of societies that tolerated and even celebrated homosexuality: see Ancient Greece, Rome, Renaissance Italy. In the Middle Ages, look at even Richard the Lionheart, renowned king and leader in the Crusades, and it was a poorly kept secret that he preferred men in his tent.

2) To take a real life stance — having the Faith Militant “naturally” persecute gays plays upon and perpetuates the idea in many people’s minds that religious community and the LGBT community are mutually exclusive. This idea is horribly detrimental to everyone involved, and there might have been a few viewers who thought what the Faith did was right, which is even more concerning.

“What about other LGBT characters being left out/misrepresented in the show?”

I totally agree about Oberyn’s portrayal – homeboy got two full-blown orgies just to solidify that yes, the Dornish have sex. A lot. With women…and men? However, Oberyn’s character was given more time to shine by the writers and by all other accounts was (in my opinion) a very good adaptation of his book character!

I actually have grown to like Olyvar’s character. First I grumbled cause I figured he was just a random guy Loras was banging, but if we can’t have Ros as our resident brothel keeper/prostitute/spy why not have a mischievous gay guy?

It’s disappointing to know we’re not going to see any Satin, Lyn Corbray, Taena Merryweather, and probably no JonCon – but this is understandable knowing how much they’re having to cut down over the next three seasons. Each has their own story, character, and struggles that add weight to the LGBT life. However, I’d have concerns about their portrayal, and it would be incredibly frustrating if there were a backlash about the amount of LGBT characters (but if you count the number straight characters…meh, I digress.)

“Obviously people talked smack about him in the books, why does it matter that he’s persecuted?”

Exclude Cersei’s thoughts and comments for a minute and you certainly get a different view of the public’s vision of Loras. Jaime has a few japes (I definitely cracked up at “Now sheathe your bloody sword, or I’ll take it from you and shove it up some place even Renly never found”), but he remarks multiple times how Loras is a younger version of himself — cocksure, talented fighter. Occasionally other characters will give a passing remark about Renly or a joke about swords, but he’s still very well respected as a fighter. Although, to play devil’s advocate, he’s not (to our knowledge) sexually active while in King’s Landing.

In Cersei’s case, she’s bitter, hypocritical, paranoid, and hates the Tyrells to major fault. Anything she says or thinks about Loras should not be equated to general opinion.

TL;DR — Loras’s only defining trait left in the show is gay. To top it off, being gay is now a sin punishable by death in Show Westeros: which is completely unnecessary pandering to modern societal struggles, and suggesting/reinforcing the idea that in a religious world, homosexuality = sin. It’s damn offensive, and probably wasn’t even too conscious of a decision.

Thanks again guys, in all I’m just glad that people are talking about this.

https://www.reddit.com/r/asoiaf/comments/34sjfc/spoilers_all_a_gay_mans_take_on_loras_and_his/

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Comments
  1. Right? Shouldn’t Loras be boldly assaulting Dragonstone instead of sitting in a cell? #NOONEUNDERSTAAANDS

  2. Winifred Overstreet says:

    “Why shouldn’t the Faith Militant be anti-gay? This is a medieval society/they’re religious fanatics, obviously they hate gays.”

    Medieval society wasn’t very anti-gay. This didn’t really begin until the Victorian era.
    Homosexuality was viewed as any other pre-marital sexual desire; or any sexual desire.
    Even Renaissance Protestantism didn’t devote much time to the thought
    Few people were out, but it was considered a minor indiscretion. And there were a few nobles, monks and nuns who acted openly with no retribution.
    The Church considered it a minor sin.
    Which GRRM knows as, I think, he might have read a little bit about medieval history before.

    It wasn’t until Regency/Victorian times that it became so illegal we started locking people up for it, but that was part of a greater series of decency laws criminalizing any sexuality. Most of them faded with the 20th century, but criminalization of homophobia exclusively is almost entirely a creation of the modern era.

    So the show is deliberately distorting historical accuracy, and book accuracy, in a vainglorious attempt to win an Emmy by showing how cruel “faith” is to homosexuals. It’s blatant modern allegory and it reduces all involved to characticures.
    George Bore-well here can take their hamfisted, straight-men-as-saviours-of-gay-rights pandering and shove it. If they really cared about gay rights, they might have the gay man on the show be more than a one dimensional prop.

  3. BUM says:

    This is a really good post. I’ve always been unhappy with Loras in the series as he is so incredible in the books. I always thought he was modeled after Sir Galahad from The Legends of King Arthur as he is a pure knight, not as a sexual being, but his life force seems to be all about being a knight. None of his bravery, his great deeds or even how so many people view him (okay, some giggling girls) as a knight are in the show as his knighthood is his beauty; it is what makes him so attractive to all.

    This post made me realize why I’m been so mad about show Loras, but I never thought it out except that they made him look more ridiculous instead of showing that book Loras is all about the myth of knighthood who believes in what he is doing. If book Loras is gay, and some see those hints, then it is just that: he’s gay, but that has nothing to do with what he does as a knight, just as whether Ser Barristan’s sexuality has nothing to do with his greatness.

  4. Alex says:

    This is a good post, and I agree with all the points made to a certain degree. What has made furious about this whole thing is something else though:

    That they have done away with a great character and a great storyline (not just for Loras) for nothing – nothing in this case being the supposed shock value of a few (implied) man-on-man sex scenes and another foppish, pointless gay character.

    Although a secondary character at best, Loras is an incredibly well realised, layered character in the books. After he loses his true love Renly, he loses his purpose and decides to dedicate the rest of his life to his family, especially his sister, who is going to lead a life in the viper´s nest that is kings landing and the kings court. In order to do that, he joins the Kings Guard, which means leading a life in CELIBACY and giving up any claim to at some point inherit the title of Head of House Tyrell.
    This in turn makes for a great story-arc, since Jaime Lannister is already the new head of the kings guard and well aware of the potential threat that Loras poses to him, since he is one of the f***ing greatest knights in the seven kingdoms (which, by the way, is constantly recognised in the books).
    As a result we have to pairs of siblings – Jaime and Versei Lannister and Loras and Margery Tyrell – vieing for power and fighting their own little secret war.

    The second reason why I´m so furious is the depiction – or lack there of – of the genuine, true love between Renly and Loras in the show and what it means after Renly´s death. The author of this post already touched on that.
    Not only is the immediate aftermath of Renly´s death much more dramatic in the books (Loras completely loses it and kills half of Renly´s kings guard in a rage for not having protected their king), but it´s really made clear how empty Loras´ life has become. The only exception of that being Margaery of course, but even that doesn´t stop him from becoming very reckless and developing a real disregard for his own life and safety (which is why he gets wounded in the storming of the castle of Dragonstone). This development of Loras is what makes the quote about the sun and the candle so beautiful – he means every word and so he won´t even try to replace his “sun”.

    The third and last thing that irks me is how even a show like Game of Thrones, that gets so many things right, just can´t depict a character who just happens to be gay. In the books both Loras and Renly (although 2nd or even 3rd tier characters) are fully fleshed out human beings.
    The casting of both roles, although very different from the books regarding Renly (he´s supposed to be a big, massive guy like his brother Robert Baratheon and a knight in his own right) is great, so I won´t get hung up on that.
    What I find appalling though, is that since the 3rd season at least, Loras has been completely reduced to “bones dudes”. The one incidental fact that he happens to be gay is overshadowing all othe raspects of his character and since that´s what´s left of him, they just went all in and made him a complete stereotype. What we get in seasons 4 and 5 is a foppish, superficial pretty-boy who sleeps around at court and doesn´t have any real purpose (in-continuity or for the show itself) whatsoever.

    The reason that that irks me so much, is that as a Marine Officer who happens to be gay, that is my one and only big issue with being gay. I hate being reduced to this one small and most of the time cpmpletely insignificant aspect and I hate it when it´s done to a great fictional character like Loras Tyrell.

    What a waste of a chance!

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