So here’s a thing I didn’t know about Monstrous Regiment. September 3, 2016Posted by Erin Ptah in Meta.
Tags: Discworld, the gays
Section 28 of the UK’s Local Government Act 1988 put a ban on things like “promoting homosexuality” and “portraying homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle” by “local authorities” in the UK.
Part of that was inspired by the AIDS panic, part of it by voters being mad that Arts Council funding was going to, in short, gay stuff. Or just general feminist stuff. Theater companies with names like Gay Sweatshop or Monstrous Regiment (that last one named after a 16th-century polemic against women getting to rule anything).
In practice, this spiraled out into a broad climate of caution and self-censorship. School boards were afraid the law covered them, so they shied away from anti-bullying initiatives that would have protected LGBT+ students. Support groups for these students shut down. School libraries wouldn’t even stock books with LGBT+ characters….
And publishers, knowing that would put a crimp in their ability to sell and market those books, generally erred on the side of “not even gonna try it.”
Only four Discworld books had been published before 1988. Another 26 were published over the next decade and a half. None of them had any of the gay stuff.
The 31st Discworld novel — also called Monstrous Regiment — is the one with the lesbians. Lots of crossdressing, characters trying to hide their genders, some whose actual gender identities are arguable, and two who are undeniably girlfriends.
Section 28 was repealed on September 18, 2003.
Monstrous Regiment came out in hardcover on October 1, 2003.
Which means Pratchett, and who knows how many people at all the other stages of publication, had it ready. They had it queued up and on-deck, and must have put things in motion literally as soon as they found out it was marketable, because it was on shelves two weeks later.
You did good, Pterry.