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Robin Hood — the gay outlaw?



There’s a new Robin Hood film on the way — its tag-line promises: “The legend you know… The story you don’t.”

They synopsis sounds familiar enough.

“Robin of Loxley, a war-hardened Crusader, and his Moorish commander mount an audacious revolt against the corrupt English crown in a thrilling action-adventure packed with gritty battlefield exploits, mind-blowing fight choreography, and a timeless romance.”

But what if the timeless romance took a bit of a queer turn?

Robin Hood is a fictional character, so we’re obviously in the realms of projection. The stories from which the character of Robin Hood emerged, are believed to date back to the 1370s. According to the BBC, Nottingham historian Tony Scupham-Bilton believes that much of the legend that we now know as Robin Hood was created by writer Sir John Clanvowe and his ballad The Jest of Robin Hood. Scupham-Bilton believes that Sir John was in a relationship Sir William Neville, the constable of Nottingham castle. Sir John was inspired to create the ballad of Robin Hood by a visit to Nottingham by King Richard II who held the throne from 1377–1399.

In creating the character of Robin Hood, Sir John imagined a masculine world — a band of outlaws living together in the forest. The character of Maid Marian — who is generally presented as a love interest for Robin Hood — didn’t appear in the stories until the 16th century.

Scupham-Bilton’s theories are backed up by Professor Stephen Knight from the University of Wales. In a 1994 paper presented to a conference on Robin Hood, Professor Knight suggested that one of the original political meanings of the story was that Robin’s resistance to authority was actually opposition to the then damning view on homosexuality. Highlighting clues and signals from the documented stories, Professor Knight concludes that Robin had effectively been exiled from ‘straight’ society — the green wood being a symbol of virility, and suggestive references to arrows, quivers, and swords conveying hidden meanings to a knowing audience.

Writer Robert Rodi takes that concept further with his comic Merry Men published in 2016. Speaking to IGN about the release of the comic, Rodi explains that taking the story back to its origins changed the tone of the whole narrative:

“By leaving Marian out, and reinforcing Robin’s connection to the merry men by making them not just an army of brothers, but an army of lovers, we’ve got a whole new dynamic — and a whole new Robin.”

Despite the queer history of the Robin Hood legend, the new telling of his tale sticks with the Maid Marian version of the story. So our swords and arrows may be a little disappointed that we won’t see Robin Hood and his Merry Men being quite so… merry.

Robin Hood will be released in cinemas in November 2018. The film is directed by Otto Bathurst and stars Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Tim Minchin, and Jamie Dornan.

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Arts & Culture

Giving a voice to gay Arab men



Samer Bo (image supplied)
Samer Bo (image supplied)

I caught up with author Samer Bo to talk about writing erotic gay fiction in Egypt.

What led you to start writing erotic gay fiction?

I was forgetting what was happening. I noticed that when someone asked me about what happened to me the previous week, I couldn’t remember the details.

I think forgetting was my defence-mechanism for all the pain and trouble.

So, I started by writing my diaries, which ended to be quite erotic sometimes. Then that moved to erotic fiction.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your stories?

Inspiration comes from my personal experiences and sometimes my friends’ experiences. Other times, I just meet a guy or watch a movie, and it inspires me to write a story.

Who are your target audience?

I write for myself before anyone else. I’d love all gay men to read and get aroused by my stories.

But I guess I do write for minorities — people who don’t usually get represented in media, porn, or erotic stories. I want people to see themselves represented in my novels.

What sort of feedback do you get from your readers?

I get a lot of positive feedback from people in the Middle East who finally find a voice speaking to them. Some see me as a role model — a type of Egyptian guy that they never see in the media.

Do your friends and family know that you write erotic gay fiction?

Only some close friends know. I’m not in touch with my family anyway. Samer is my real name, but I changed my last name to Bo.

Have you had any negative reactions to the gay erotic fiction that you write?

I only tell people about my writing if I know that they’re either gay or gay friendly. So I haven’t had negative reactions in that respect.

However, I have had multiple incidents of homophobia. I was arrested once.

Son of the President isn’t an erotic story, how did that story come to you?

That story is based on the real-life story of an older friend that I met a few years ago. I told him about my erotic stories, and he asked me to write an erotic story inspired by his experiences.

However, I felt that if I wrote it as erotica, it would take away from the essence of the story. So I left it as non-erotic story.


What do you hope that people feel when reading your stories?

First of all, aroused from my erotic stories. Plus, I want people to feel represented.

Gay Arabs are not represented in any kind of media. We’re being suppressed and discriminated against. A lot of gay men in the Middle East feel that being gay is wrong, and that homosexuality is a sin.

This is my small way to help those men feel better about themselves.

What are some of your goals and ambitions for the remainder of 2018?

More stories, maybe some non-erotic ones. I’m also helping a friend of mine to change his non-erotic short story into a play.

Read the novels by Samer Bo

Follow Samer Bo on Twitter

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