Nikki (nakeisha) wrote,
Nikki
nakeisha

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Coming out. What would their superiors think?

I was working though my edits for a zine story recently and something the editor said together with something I read in someone’s LJ, plus a story I was reading recently made me think about the above - would the couple in question tell their bosses when they became lovers?

Now I will own up and say that maybe my view is a tad sentimental and is more wishful thinking than reality, and maybe I am just projecting too many of my twenty-first century, non-bigoted views on to people in the 1960s, 1970/80s and 1990s. However, as none of us actually know what would truly happen in any of the organisations/universes, I believe that my view is as valid as anyone else’s. I have full respect for the views of others so what I am saying is just my opinion and is in no way meant to offend any other person’s opinion.



THE PROFESSIONALS

This show was set in Britain during the late 70s/early 80s, at a time where although legal (at least if you were over the age of 21), homosexuality still wasn’t as accepted as it is today. The world of CI5 is a fictional one, being a combination of several organisations. However, it is not totally dissimilar to other government set-ups. Thus, the logical response would be that Bodie and Doyle would not ‘come out’ to their boss George Cowley, especially given that he is ex-army and somewhat of the ‘old school’.

However, I firmly believe that they would tell him; they respect him too much to do otherwise. Moreover, as they discuss, it seems that Cowley not only knows whose bed they get out of, but also which side. Therefore, if he really is this all-seeing, he is going to know about them sleeping together. My belief is that neither of them is stupid enough not to tell him, because they know very well that he will ultimately find out. If he found out via a third-party, or some other way, then I think that he would be very angry, very disappointed and that it could easily be the end of their careers. However, if they go to him and tell him, then firstly he knows, thus blackmail isn’t so simple, and also they are showing him the respect that he deserves.

I believe that neither Cowley nor the rest of CI5 would have a particular problem with their relationship going beyond that of good friends and working partners. Again, maybe I am seeing things through the proverbial rose-coloured glasses, but my belief is that the men and women in CI5 see enough death and destruction every day, I don’t see that they would begrudge people some love. In addition, putting it on another level, if Bodie and Doyle are sleeping together, especially once they become committed to one another, it leaves a lot of women free for the other CI5 agents to take up with :-)

I think that Cowley would be quite happy with them to form and remain in a relationship as long as they were reasonably discreet. I don’t see them as the kind to go to gay clubs, or flaunt their relationship by fooling around in public, etc. and as they are already circumspect about what they do for a living, keeping something else quiet from the general populace wouldn’t be a great problem. I do think, however, that if they were daft and behaved inappropriately outside of the privacy of their own home, then Cowley would have very few qualms about dispensing with their services - and I think he would make this very clear from the outset. Be discreet and remain in CI5. Be foolish and you’re out.

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

The show was set in America in the 1960s and I admit that I do not know as much about America during that time (or even now) as I know about Britain. Thus, I’m not totally sure what the law was like in regards to homosexuality - although I believe it differed from State to State.

Nevertheless, my feelings concerning Napoleon and Illya ‘coming out’ to their superior are pretty much the same as that of Bodie and Doyle. U.N.C.L.E. has a rule that field agents cannot marry below the age of forty, so one assumes that this also refers to forming a permanent relationship with someone. Therefore, this implies that Napoleon and Illya would have to keep quiet about any relationship they might form, as U.N.C.L.E. and Alexander Waverly would not approve. And of course there is Illya’s heritage to take into account, and Russia’s view on homosexuality.

However, as with Bodie and Doyle, my feelings are that Napoleon and Illya would deem it appropriate, necessary and respectful to inform Mr. Waverly of the additional to their relationship. After all they are both intelligent men, and I’m certain that neither of them would want to commit professional suicide. Which is what, in my opinion, would be likely to happen should they attempt to carry out a covert affair and it become known to Mr. Waverly.

I feel that Alexander Waverly would not be overly perturbed about the addition, as long as they were discreet about it and stayed away from gay bars etc. Nor do I believe that he would feel that it would endanger missions or loyalties. After all, he forever has to tell them that the other is capable of looking after himself when they want to go dashing off to rescue their in-trouble partner.

Like Bodie and Doyle, even before you start to add sex to the equation, Napoleon and Illya are already closer than just good friends and most partnerships, and they already go out of their way for the other. I am, therefore, not certain that them becoming lovers could necessarily bring them any closer; they’d just be adding sex to an already tight relationship.

I also feel that as long as they felt certain that the extra level wouldn’t cause any professional problems, then I believe that Mr. Waverly (like George Cowley) would grant his team the respect of taking their word for it, and letting them prove to him that they were worthy of his approval. He would of course have one other option. If he really felt that letting them remain field agents would be a risk too far, then he could pull them from the field, push Illya into the labs, and utilise Napoleon’s leadership and other qualities in other ways.

As with the other CI5 employees, I believe that the employees of U.N.C.L.E., if they did find out about Napoleon and Illya, wouldn’t really give a damn one way or another. These agents go out on an assignment not even knowing if they’ll come home alive, not to mention being tortured, beaten, brain-washed, etc. so I feel confident that they aren’t going to deny people a bit of love. Plus U.N.C.L.E. employees would be safe to tell anyway, after all, like CI5 agents they generally keep what they are a secret.

DUE SOUTH

This show is somewhat different as it was set in the 90s, at a time when homosexuality was generally more accepted and tolerated, and laws abound to protect people to an extent from prejudice. Again, I don’t know as much about America in the 90s as I do about Britain, but again I am aware that laws, etc. differ from State to State. The partnership involved is also different because Benny and Ray are actually unofficial partners and do not work for the same employee, or even the same Government.

This I believe would, in some ways, make keeping an affair secret somewhat easy than for Bodie/Doyle, Napoleon/Illya, and yet in others maybe slightly more difficult - as they would have to keep it from two sets of employers. This show is also one where we actually see canon family members (even if Benny’s is not actually alive), which is another part of the equation that has to be taken into account. As would Ray’s Catholicism, and Benny’s generally much more reserved upbringing. However, this isn’t really about whether they would ‘come out’, so I won’t at this point delve into the question of would they/wouldn’t they.

Assuming that they do decide to tell their respective employers of the addition to their relationship, my feeling is that Inspector Thatcher would be more perturbed and put out by the news than Lieutenant Welsh. I see the latter as to an extent almost world-weary and ground down by his life, his lack of real ‘power’, his constant balancing act between his detectives beneath him and his bosses above him. Thus, I don’t see that learning that Ray and Benny had become lovers would bother him in any way, except for maybe worrying if either of them, but particularly Ray (after all Ray is ‘his’) would suffer in any way from fellow employees. I’ve heard that gay cops aren’t necessarily treated all that well, but like all things I would imagine that one cannot and should not generalise.

Inspector Thatcher I think would be less inclined to be understanding. I don’t think she’d be bigoted or disgusted, I just think she’d put it down to yet another one of the ways that Fraser can and does irritate her. Plus, as she isn’t overly fond of Ray anyway, it would give her one more gripe against him. I think that she might well choose to refuse to admit it even to herself, but I can’t see her contacting her superiors in Canada and demanding that Fraser be replaced or cause him any trouble in that respect.

I do feel generally that Ray and Benny would feel less compelled by necessity to tell their superiors of the addition to their relationship, at least until they were certain that it was a long-term one, than Bodie/Doyle or Napoleon/Illya. I don’t believe that either Ray or Benny would find himself out of a job if their superiors found out via another route.

STARSKY & HUTCH

An American show set in the late 70s/early 80s. It and The Professionals have been compared to one another and each has been called a version of the other country’s show. Starsky & Hutch are ordinary undercover detectives working for a standard American city Police Force; in that respect they are quite similar to Ray Vecchio.

Being back in the time it was shown, things weren’t as easy for homosexuals in general - in fact we even see a small degree of difficulty in understanding homosexuals from Starsky himself. However, in my opinion, this is more because Starsky had grown up knowing the man who turned out to be gay, and was close friends with him and his wife. Thus I feel it was the sudden discovery that led to a sense of almost betrayal that made him react relatively badly to the news. This belief ties in with much of what I have said above: telling one’s friends/superiors is preferable to them finding out and thus feeling angered or betrayed.

Like Ray and Benny, I don’t believe that Starsky & Hutch would have to same overwhelming need or compunction to ‘come out’ to their superior as early as Bodie & Doyle and/or Napoleon & Illya would. The Police force is different from CI5 and U.N.C.L.E. However, I believe that they would inform Captain Dobey once things became serious between them and they realised that they were a committed couple. They would choose to tell him, not just because of little things like change of address (assuming that they choose to live together), but also because they like and respect the man, and wouldn’t want to keep something like this from him.

As Captain Dobey is coloured in an era where racial prejudice, especially for someone who reached his rank, was not unknown, he is clearly used to dealing with bigotry on a personal level. Therefore, I cannot believe that he himself would personally have a problem with his top team being a couple.

STORIES

Because of my above views it is probably obvious that when I write stories that involve the couple in question informing their superiors, I always write the superiors as being fine about the addition to the partner’s relationship. I have also written a couple of stories that have the superiors playing ‘cupid’ for want of a better word.

I have major problems with stories that depict the said superiors as bigots and have them being disgusted and appalled and threatening to split the partners up, fire them or basically making them choose between one another or their jobs. I am afraid that no matter how well written the story is, no matter how compelling other aspects of the story and plot might be, no matter how well written and convincing the main couple are, if the superior is written as a bigot, then I as a reader am lost.

In all the fanfic I have read, I have yet to read a story that displays a superior as condemning and unpleasant that has convinced me. The closest I came was in a MFU story when Mr. Waverly started out that way, but by the end had been convinced, partly thanks I suspect to having his life saved by Illya, that in fact he was wrong and that there was nothing disgusting about his top team being lovers.
Tags: fandom: due south, fandom: starsky & hutch, fandom: the man from u.n.c.l.e., fandom: the professionals, media fandom : general
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