IIRC the treatment of homosexuality in Heinlein's writing changed a lot over time. My recollection is that in an early book (possibly Stranger in a Strange Land?), a sympathetic or authorial mouthpiece character refers to gay people as "poor cripples" or "confused" or something along those lines. By the time he wrote I Will Fear No Evil, he was describing humans as having 6 sexes, which are all the combinations of physically M/F with straight/bi/gay.

Can anyone fill in my vague recollections? Is there any evidence as to whether his attitudes actually evolved, or whether there was editorial censorship or self-censorship early on? In the 1942 Beyond This Horizon, there is a scene where two men trade notes on firearms in very macho fashion, and then one of them compliments the other on the shade of his nail polish. This could be taken at face value, or you could read it as Heinlein writing a scene that pushed the envelope as much as possible for marketable genre fiction in 1942. He did fight a series of sometimes ludicrous censorship battles with the freudian-minded editor of his juvenile novels.

[EDIT] A question like this really comprises two questions, one about what the author thought, and one about what he wrote. The link contributed by wcullen to material by Bill Patterson probably tells us as much as we're ever likely to know about #1, so I've edited the question to focus just on #2.

  • 3
    William H. Patterson wrote a rather detailed response on the website I linked. The actual question--"Did Heinlein change his views on homosexuality over the years?"-- is about 3/4 of the way down this FAQ page: heinleinsociety.org/2013/02/… – wcullen Mar 24 '18 at 22:29
  • 3
    From the link: a letter written in 1962, i.e., just after Stranger was published: You mentioned “homosexuality.” I’m a bit ashamed of the gentle sideswipe I gave the subject This "sideswipe" may be the vaguely remembered "poor cripples" or "confused" remark that I referred to in the question. In general, I trust Patterson more on Heinlein's early life (i.e., the first volume of the biography), but re Heinlein's later life, IMO, Patterson turned to hagiography and often recorded Heinlein's own points of view, grudges, and anecdotes as if they were objective facts. – Ben Crowell Mar 24 '18 at 23:26
  • 1
    Why does an author's fictional work necessarily have to reflect his personal views? In Farnham's Freehold white people were chattel slaves. – Kyle Jones Mar 26 '18 at 2:31
  • 2
    Don't have the text of 'Stranger' at hand, but my memory of it was Jill saying something like "Poor in-betweeners. I don't think Mike will ever invite them to share water". – swbarnes2 Mar 30 '18 at 22:48
  • 2
    I feel that it is worth noting for Bob’s earlier work that he, along with every other SF author who tried to publish with...damn, don’t remember anymore. Campbell or Gernsback. Anyway, whichever one, he had a secretary who was infamously prudish and would cut the slightest suggestion of sex or sexuality from stories. This only spurred authors to find ways to slip things under the radar as a bit of a gag. – Broklynite Mar 31 '18 at 0:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.