Chapter 2 - Family and Friends

Author's Note


Hello readers! You've likely noticed that I've been using they/them pronouns for my gentleman "Mr. Denton." So, I wanted to very briefly touch on the incredibly complex topic of Victorian third gender and how it affects Denton in particular. The terms "heterosexual" and "homosexual" were first used in 1868. It wasn't until the 1880s that the interest in sexuality led to the words being used widely - this is a bit after I've set Chesterfield. The book's era is post-Byron, pre-Wilde, but meant to be a bit ambiguous. (Tangentially, the man who first used the terms hetero/homosexual, Karl Kertbeny, is endlessly fascinating. There's a great Medium article about his life and the development of the words.) In the early/mid Victorian era, sexuality was less important than gender presentation. If you didn't perform your gender to certain standards, you risked falling into the category of "third gender" - whether you identified that way or not. Maybe you're a woman who wants to wear pants (!) or a man with mannerisms that have been deemed "feminine." This was only amplified if you liked someone of the same gender, or someone who refused to conform to either. Denton has internalized all of these standards, of course. How could you not, growing up in the Victorian era? At the beginning of the book, their head is still reeling from trying to figure out who and what they are. Their gender identity and how society would classify them are directly at odds. I would say that Denton identifies as a gentleman, but not as a man. Please understand that I mean to write their journey sensitively, and in a way I think would be accurate for the time period. My research is what led me to choose they/them pronouns. It might be worth noting that I myself am a cis bisexual woman in a same-sex relationship, and there is a member of my immediate family who is part of the trans community. This story isn't a gimmick for me; it's writing that reflects some of my own lived experience and that of the people around me, people who I love dearly. It's with that same love that I've created my characters. -idlewilde