Discussing: Bilbo's Sexuality
31 Dec 02 4:24 PM
This thread also discusses homosexuality and bisexuality as legitimate and ethical modes of sexual expression. If you are categorically opposed to such an idea, please do not read or post to this thread.
31 Dec 02 5:33 PM
Reply To: 2405
To me, I had to start with a presumption that this is someone who has strong desires, and an extensive sexual past. The Ring has not removed his desire, but has appropriated it, trying to force it into dark and destructive channels, as it did with Gollum. Things hinted at in Legacy became more explicit in OMY, mostly because the nascent backstory of Legacy got developed in between the writing times.
Unlike Frodo, Bilbo finds men sexually desireable, and takes great pleasure in physical pleasure - he enjoys sex. As Rory notes, Bilbo was propositioning adult men when he was only a little older than Frodo. Bilbo spends time at Wintermark thinking about the kinds of men he once desired, and wondering at Frodo's bad taste in boyfriends. At the same time, he is a creature of the Shire, not Castro Street, and Bilbo is not entirely happy with these perverse and unnatural desires.
He does like women. He enjoys their company, he likes flirting and sexual banter, and he enjoys having sex with them, though it is clear he would rather flirt than fuck where women are concerned. Bilbo claims to have lain with a number of women in his youth, and he probably did have sex with a few tweens and perhaps one or two older women prior to meeting Gilda.
Bilbo's love for Gilda is real, but exaggerated. She is obviously an incredible person - smart, loving, with good sense, ambition, and a variety of talents. She has a forceful personality, is loyal to those she loves, and is probably one of the few people in the Shire who can hold her own with Bilbo. Finally, Gilda finds Bilbo very desireable in return. Bilbo really does love her, but there is something else at work - Gilda is the woman (to his mind) who will drive away his "unnatural" desires for men, if only she would agree to be his. When she refuses him, it gives him an interesting internal argument about why he does not desire women - Gilda is the only woman he loves, and he will be faithful to her even if she has chosen another.
The Ring has curbed even his desire for other men, which probably helps Bilbo be less conflicted about his desires since they appear to have left him. The frightening thing is that Bilbo begins to be aroused when he contemplates violence against others, mostly Esmie and Sara, but also (in one scary moment) Frodo. This is the Ring at work on him.
Even so, there is in him a definite feeling of desire for Frodo. This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of Bilbo to write. There is so much "Eeeew!" factor in it - m/m, age difference, a real biological connection (double-cousins), and a growing parent/child - father/son emotional bond. In tension with this is the fact that Frodo is physically very close to Bilbo's ideal partner, that Frodo shares much of Bilbo's curiosity and intellectual sharpness (probably the greatest reason why Bilbo and Gilda click, too - Bilbo has the hots for smart people), and finally that Bilbo sees that Frodo has been ill-used, and wants to protect and comfort him and to show him what love can and should be like.
Bilbo's ethical core is what saves both of them. He does not desire children or youths. He has a strong enough character that he can forbid himself something and stick to it. Bilbo can see that Frodo needs a parent far more than he needs a lover. At the same time, Bilbo does not retreat or become cold towards Frodo, which would be an easy way to establish a boundary between them. He remains emotionally open and physically intimate, which takes an amazing amount of self-discipline. Particularly as it takes place in a social-setting where many people who see the two of them together will assume that it is a sexual realtionship, and will take macabre delight in the "Eeeeew!" factor.
So, that's thte foundation of my ideas about Bilbo's sexuality. His age and his life experience make him much more interesting to write in this reagard than Frodo.
Re: Thoughtful Desires
07 Jan 03 6:32 PM
Reply To: 2406
I must admit, I'm not really comfortable with such a *lot* of sex in what I read, but I kept on reading because Bilbo and Frodo were so very believable and lovable -- even when I wasn't crazy about what they (esp. Frodo) were doing!
And I used to think I could write fan fiction! >vbg< But this story, and "Legacy", are just spectacular...
Re: Thoughtful Desires
07 Jan 03 8:21 PM
Reply To: 2685
Seeing Ian Holm's performance in FOTR was a great help in visualizing things (I'm not a visual person). But what really happened was I started writing a story where Bilbo was a peripheral character, and the old fellow stole every scene he was in. I was pretty certain then that I needed to give him his own story.
I'm not entirely happy with what Frodo has been getting himself into, either, but (as Bilbo would say) his youth excuses most of it. His act gets cleaned up fairly rapidly once he has decided he belongs with Bilbo, especially as his uncle will set a good example for him. Associating with Dwarves and conjurors and the like. ;-)
I know that both the amount of sex and the aspects of sexuality that I'm addressing in the story are not everyone's cup of tea. I myself would not have believed even a few months ago that I would have written this. I blame it all on Dwim. More seriously, I think that these are aspects of the characters that deserve to be treated directly and respectfully. I don't like seeing fics where the characters are little more than puppets of the author's erotic fantasy. It is a challenge to write this way about JRRT characters, so I'm glad that it was the characters, not the shenanigans, that won you over in the end.