matte/ like the paint (likethepaint) wrote in little_details,
matte/ like the paint

1700s Homosexuality and Pirates

Setting: 1703/4 pirate ship
Characters are a 25 and a 21 year old males, the elder of the two has been a pirate for a good few years, the younger is almost completely new to it.

The part where they're pirates is almost a prelude to a much larger story, and as part of a plot device they need to die. Since walking the plank is pretty much a myth, I was going to have them marooned on a island and they would then shoot themselves to avoid the suffering of starvation. This has become pretty integral to the plot.

However, as I've been researching, I've come across the fact that homosexuality, or at least homosexual acts were tolerated, if not relatively normal on pirate ships, which leaves my plan of them being marooned for their relationship shattered. However, I still need this to happen, and preferably it needs to be for their homosexuality.

I found no reference of actual homosexual relationships. Most of them mentioned homosexual acts, and acknowledged that ultimately, we have no reason to doubt that the population demographics of homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual people differed throughout history. I understand pirates didn't see homosexual acts as emasculating, but they did dislike effeminate individuals. Neither of my characters is especially effeminate (they definitely wouldn't fit in the camp stereotype) but would a loving relationship rather than 'we've been on this ship for god knows how long and women are off limits, so what the hell' perhaps label them as such? If not, is there anything else that could lead their shipmates to shun them and maroon them?

If it helps one of the characters is notoriously clumsy and it's thus completely reasonable that he would end up getting them caught, not that they would get much chance to have any privacy anyway.

Current research: googling homosexuality 1700s, and 1600s [since my period is so close], punishment for sodomites +pirates, homosexuality and pirates, punishments for homosexuality in pirates, etc. That turned up a lot in terms of disproving my original theory, but not in solving the dilemma it caused. I've also got a book called Jolly Roger by Patrick Pringle, that I have flicked and used the index to find appropriate pages, but not read cover to cover yet. Also, just for clarification, I'm aware they wouldn't have used the term homosexual or anything, but it seemed like the most appropriate term to use for this purpose.
Tags: 1700-1709, ~age of sail, ~homosexuality: history, ~pirates

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