So my good friend E. E. Ottoman, a fellow fibre lover and history buff, has posed an interesting question on her blog. The full post is here and will, I’m sure, generate some interesting discussion.
What I posted in response to this thoughtful post is the following:
For me, the most important thing is how attitudes differed between countries/empires in a certain period. In my quest to figure out what was what and where in the mid-12th century, my first port of call was the inestimable Paul Halsall and his tremendous Internet History Project. The section on GLBT history is *huge* (over yonder) and there’s also full bibliographies which are enormously helpful.
My second port of call is Academia Edu which is like a Facebook for academics and has a huge wealth of information and academic papers on just about anything you can think of.
While writing “City of Jade,” what I found interesting was the clear difference in attitudes between Byzantium and the Southern Song Dynasty – in Byzantium, gay relationships were a big no-no, despite Byzantium’s lean towards a Greek identity rather than Roman. In the Southern Song, it wasn’t a big deal, and the term ‘fentao/fen-tao’ was used quite frequently to describe same sex relationships. It’s fascinating to me to see how the openness deteriorated as Western attitudes insinuated on China, particularly towards the end of the Qing Dynasty and during the Manchu rule. (And there’s a wealth of beautiful GBLT love poetry from China and from Persia as well.)