Pyrofennec does an excellent job highlighting the issues of Rape In My Anti-Tolkien. I wanted to elaborate a little on a more specialised area of fantasy.
Why is there so much rape in my gay fantasy fiction?
It doesn’t happen in books with straight male protagonists, unless it’s to his girlfriend, his wife, his mother, his sister. Rape is something that he never needs to contend with on a personal level. It’s just not on the radar. It’s this special crime saved for all the men who are not straight and women.
There’s a whole lot of awful tropes in fantasy fiction featuring gay and bisexual male protagonists. The heroes are almost always stunning beautiful and exceptionally talented, there’s usually a dark secret and a tragic past thrown in, they’re underappreciated, misunderstood, and their lives are filled with Angst with a capital A, but don’t worry about it, they’ll get over it with the love of a good man, at least until he dies in horribly tragic circumstances.
But what annoys me most is the prevalence of rape. I can’t say I’m too fond of the incest either, I’m certainly not fond of lovers being murdered or characters being killed just because. But I hate the rape.
Here is a list, of fantasy fiction, that I’ve read, which has cis-male protagonists who are either gay or bisexual (there’s a couple of exceptions but they’re listed below). I’ve mentioned accounts of both rape and deaths (except in the cases where I just can’t remember).
Just to be clear if magic is used to coerce someone into having sex that is rape. If someone is not conscious (and has given no prior consent) then having sex with them is rape. Forced to have sex, be that magically or otherwise, is rape.
As for the deaths, not all of them are equal. Some are the heroes, some are the heroes’ lovers, some are secondary characters, some are minor characters, some are the villains and some are mentioned in passing. For some books I’ve listed them out and others I’ve just noted there are deaths. Some of the books have worlds in which everyone is bi and so any death is going to be that of a bisexual character, others we’re speaking of 50% of the book’s non-straight population being killed off. I’m not going to differentiate here.
I’m not commenting on the quality or the literary merit of the books below. There are books on the list I enjoyed and books I loathed.
The Archer’s Heart by Astrid Amara
Two men are executed for sodomy. Prince Jandu Paran is forced to transform into a woman and as a woman he is sexually assaulted, but rescued before he is raped. Tarek is killed. Jandu’s lover, Keshan, is also his cousin.
Brothers of the Dragon Trilogy by Robin Wayne Bailey
Robert was abused by his father as a child and has flashbacks to being raped. His lover begins the book dead (to the extent the main character remembers his death), and while this turns out to not actually be the case, the two men are never actually reunited on the pages of the book.
Shadowdance by Robin Wayne Bailey
Innowen is raped by the man who raised him (who is under the influence of magic at the time). Innowen spies on his twin brother having drugged out sex with his mother.
A Companion to Wolves by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette
Isolfr is gang-raped frequently as part of the magical society they live in. While the authors claim the hero is straight he engages in consensual sex with men on several occasions in the book. Many people die.
The Magravandius Trilogy by Storm Constantine
Tayven is subjected to a brutal gang rape and then left for dead. Tayven is raped by Bayard. Shan, who is straight, is gang-raped in a separate incident. Bayard, the villain and his brother, Almorante, are both killed. Valraven has consensual sex with his twin sister.
Dance of the Rings Trilogy by Jane S Fancher
Michael is sexually abused as a child and raped in prison. He’s also forced to have sex with a woman in a magical-ritual.
Nightrunner Series by Lynn Flewelling
Alec is subjected to mind-magic that forces him to have sex with a woman. In the fourth book Alec is chained up, experimented on and forced to father ‘children’. Seregil is tortured by his own ex-lover. That ex-lover, who had been believed to be dead, was sexually abused and eventually castrated.
The Still by David Feintuch
Roddy awakes to find his best friend, Rustin, molesting him, against his will, in his sleep. Rustin is blackmailed into having sex with an older man. I’ve not read the second book but the reviews say that Rustin dies.
The Fall of Kings by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman
Basil is murdered. The man who murders him is also sent to death after sleeping with the main villain. One of the minor character’s lovers is killed. There is sex while under the influence of magic.
The Last Herald Mage Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
Tylendel dies. A villain tries to seduce Vanyel and is killed. Moonshadow killed his own first lover by accident. Vanyel is gang raped. Vanyel is killed. Vanyel’s straight nephew tries to seduce him. Another character’s been sexually abused by his mother.
Strange Fortune by Josh Lanyon
Valentine Strange and Aleister Grimshaw’s first kiss happens when the latter is addled with drugs. Valentine has sex with Aleister, when he’s been insensible for days, is incoherent, and asleep. Some villains are killed.
The Dancers of Arun by Elizabeth Lynn
There is consensual incest between two brothers. Sefer, the lover of one of the brothers, is murdered.
The Doctrine of Labyrinths Series by Sarah Monette
Felix spends much of the series being raped. His lover, Gideon, is murdered. Felix kills one of the men he slept with and he also eventually kills the main villain. In the very first page of the first book we’re told a story of how a woman repeatedly uses magic to rape a gay man. Felix kisses his brother.
The Steel Remains by Richard K Morgan
Ringil is gang-raped while at school. His lover is brutally executed for being gay. Ringil kills the two men (not counting the nameless stable-boy) he sleeps with in the book. I’d make an argument for the sex Ringil had with the dwenda not being consensual due to the amount of mind-manipulating magic that was used on Ringil at the time.
The Painter Knight by Fiona Patton
Simon’s lover, King Marcellus, is killed at the start of the book. King Marcellus is known for abusing any prostitutes sent to him. Rosarion, is dying throughout the book and succumbs to his illness by the end.
Maledicte by Lane Robins
Gilly is raped by a woman. A gay prostitute is murdered. The King and Vornatti are killed. (Maledicte’s gender makes the sexualities of the characters who’re only attracted to him complicated. There’s abusive power issues in the way that Vornatti acquires sex from both Gilly and Maledicte but I’ll elaborate further on that when I’ve reread the book.)
The True Game by Sheri S Teper
Mandor, mind controls Peter, rapes him and is eventually killed.