What if heterophobia were real? What if, instead of religious leaders denouncing love between people of the same gender, a state theocracy decreed, “Our god commands women to marry women.”
What if loving the wrong gender could get you ostracized, imprisoned, and re-educated? In fact, you were turned over to “parents” tasked with re-programming you to live according to their definition of normal?
Yes, we are talking about conversion therapy.
That is, an attempt to “cure” a person of his or her sexual orientation, often (but not always) conducted under religious auspices.
Yes, it really does happen in our world, but it’s the opposite way around. LGBT people are told their identity is wrong, sinful, and an abomination. A perversion, a one-way ticket to damnation, and a morally wrong “choice” to be corrected with persuasion–if persecution can be classified as such.
In Becoming Clissine, I asked what would happen in a world where religious persecution of sexuality was the norm, but the roles were reversed. What if being LGBT were normal, and being heterosexual was not?
As I’ve revisited this world in more recent years, I’ve pondered how this alternate reality came to be. Why would a society choose to disenfranchise a significant portion of its population?
And then I found myself with the story of Altrea, the foremother of Bastia. Years before Bastia (as we know it in Becoming Clissine) came about, a young woman named Altrea lost her freedom and virginity to a man chosen by her father. The consequences of this one decision rippled down for generations and affected another young woman named Clissa.
This weekend’s snippet is from the second short story in “The Wives of Jakal” (last week’s snippet was from the first story). Terris is the second wife of Jakal, and she narrates how she came to him.
In my country, Terris means star. It’s an odd name to give to the youngest daughter of a non-inheriting second princess, but my mother insisted. Strange, because she never insisted on anything.
“She will be a star,” Mother told the midwives while she labored to bring me forth. After easy births for all of her earlier children, she groaned and wept for seventeen hours. My tiny feet protruded from between her legs, and screams ripped us apart. “Fiery, all-consuming, and aloft in her own place in this world.”
Later, when the midwives bathed Mother’s forehead and laid me at her breast, she couldn’t remember her words. “Terris? We have no Terrises in our family.”
What if heterosexuality were a crime?
In the world of Bastia, like must marry like. Basti, the supreme deity, has decreed so. Any deviation results in sanctions, imprisonment, torture, or even death. But how did this society come to be? How can a religion be based on hatred?
In these early chronicles of Bastia, we discover good intentions behind the benevolent theocracy gone wrong. Meet the founder of modern day Bastia, Altrea. Placed in a polygamous marriage to enrich her father, she finds love with one of her sister wives. Their husband’s reaction is swift and brutal. As Altrea struggles to make sense of the violence, she dreams of a world in which one woman can love another.
In this new perfect society called Bastia, justice reigns supreme. No one is above the law. The state will provide for all equally. But as Altrea quickly finds out, nothing is simple. Basti is love. Bastia is founded on love. So what went wrong? How did a land of idyllic happiness turn into the dystopian regime that persecutes a young woman for loving a boy?
Come and meet Karielle and Soris before they reeducate the criminal who dared to love the wrong gender, and ask yourself one question.
Why is love a crime?