When I published my intro post about the larp “Just a Little Lovin” I asked what people would like to read about in my posts on JaLL. One suggestion that came up was sexuality. Apparently others have had very strong experience with this. I remember several of the gay and bisexual players talking about how great it was to finally play a game for them. Erik put it very well:
“JaLL making the plotlines gay and queer made them easier to understand for me, or at least identify with, so I could appreciate the *stories* on their own merit without having to make mental adjustments and hypotheticals.”
(You should also read his account of the game, it’s way better put than mine)
Many also commented on the fact that it was great to experience a larp with a set of characters from their world view so to say. (As someone joked: finally the straight roles was outnumbered in a larp)
That for me as a straight(ish) male has really been an eye opener. I have been thinking about this before for example in connection with “Things That Happen to Other People.” (A Fastaval game also by Tor). That this larp is sadly special because many of the characters are LGBT, but other than the fact that AIDS hit this group first most of the conflicts and stories don’t arise from the fact that the characters are LGBT, it’s just a fact like any other part of the character. It’s the same in “Things That Happen to Other People.” It’s about a group of people fleeing a civil war, and in this group there’s a love story, where the two lovers just happen to be men. It’s not an issue, it’s just a fact, and I love that and we need more of that.
Another thing that is kinda connected to sexuality or more correctly gender (I think) is something I took from the larp: those who know me, know I’m not the most manly of men in that boring traditional way. I have in the past been asked if I’m gay. My stance and body language is not traditional masculine and my favorite cocktail is the cosmopolitan. I’m ok with that, I have accepted that. And luckily I have never been ashamed of it. It’s such an ingrown part of who I am, that I have never tried to change it. Not because I was particularly proud about it, but because I know it would be uncomfortable and in wain any way.
And I know now who very stressful and tense it would be to try and change, but I’ll get back to that. As I said I’m not ashamed of it. But I’m fully aware that some men and probably also women have looked down on me because of that. And I have seen it as a weakness. It’s hard to explain. It’s a bit like I know I’m not that good looking, but I’m not ashamed of that, there’s nothing to do about it. But I’m fully aware that it’s a weakness that puts me at a disadvantage in some situations.
Bruce on the other hand was very masculine. I even went to Hanne, who ran a gender bending workshop, for people playing a different gender than their own, to get some tips on how to be and move more masculine. That by the way became a great tool for getting into and out of character. I would dramatically change the way I stood or moved and I would feel different. When getting out of Bruce I would exaggerate my own body language to show myself that I was me again, it felt so liberating because it felt very tense to be in that manly way and to be so aware of how I held myself at all times (that’s what I meant by stressful and tense. It helped my immersion, because Bruce was stressful and tense, but to try and do that day in and day out? Never!)
But Bruce felt very powerful, so sure of himself and his place in the world. Even when cracking when facing death and confusing love he was still powerful. He was still this pillar of energy, power and command. Just on shaky ground. And without thinking about it after the larp I felt this power stance move from Bruce’s way of standing and moving into my own way of standing and moving. I suddenly felt proud of my body language almost defiant. It has since gone away a bit, but I can still once in awhile feel this defiant power and proudness of my way of being. Before I didn’t care what others thought, but I was aware that they might see my body language as week compared to other men. Now I’m at times able to feel proud of my way of being. This is me, this is my strength, and I’m fucking proud of it. There’s power in it not weakness. That is a strong experience. And that is what I took from the larp in form of sexuality or gender or whatever it is.
Now playing gay, well as I said I’m straight(ish), but I have played gay before. I have even played straight relationships where my female partner was played by a man. And I have played gay relationships with a woman playing my gay lover. And I have never had a problem distinguishing the player form the character and being aware that the love I played was towards a character not the player. So I didn’t really have any issues with playing gay. It’s just yet another love story just with different genitalia combinations. And who doesn’t love a good love story?