Sunday morning, under an unseasonal July drizzle that brought mist rising from the hills, Viscount Sir William MacBrennan, inspired by Maestro Eduardo Francesco Maria Lucrezia and Mistress Ariel de Courtenay, fighting for her lady Sarah Patrick Stewart, Defender of the West, proudly entered the Champions list of An Tir.
Despite the rain, there were warm smiles and embraces from the supporters of the Inspirational Equality movement gathered to see the processional.
Their Royal Majesties An Tir, Thorin and Dagmaer, have been vocal advocates for the cause of allowing same-gendered couples to enter Crown and Coronet Tournaments. As one of the first acts of Their Reign, they put Their support into action by inviting same gendered couples into the Lists of the Champion's Tournament of An Tir, a tournament on which there is no same-gender ban.
According to the bylaws of the SCA, a fighter and inspiration of the same gender are banned from entering "Royal Lists" (Crown or Coronet Tournaments); however, there is no society-wide ban on any other kingdom level tournaments.
Members of the Inspirational Equality movement, a group which began in An Tir but now includes approximately 500 members from across the Knowne World, supports changing Society policy to allow all couples to enter Crown regardless of gender. They believe that, though tournaments such as Champions tourneys may not have as high a profile as Royal lists, publicly highlighting the entry of same gender couples in such tourneys will increase visibility and acceptance of same gender inspirations.
"I can only think of one reason I might have a problem with two people of the same gender entering crown together," a squire in the processional mused to Mistress Ariel as they waited, "and that is representation: it seems like you need one person of each gender in order to be able to represent everyone."
"But if you follow that logic," Ariel countered, "you'd need a Black ruler to represent Black populace, a Norse ruler for the Scandinavians, and so on. Do you need sameness to represent? And what about gay people? Have we ever been represented by a gay couple on the throne?"
Another commonly raised issue in this discussion is that same-gendered ruling pairs are not period. Inspirational Equality has begun compiling a list of same-gender ruling pairs on their facebook page to demonstrate that, in fact, there are several historical examples. In addition, Inspirational Equality points out that the SCA is full of reasonable departures from period practice which are informed by modern sensibilities. "There are plenty of things that we do that would have been inappropriate in the Middle Ages but we do because it is right." Writes Juana la Christiana on the Inspirational Equality facebook page, "No one is suggesting that we dig a hole to poop in because it would be more historically accurate."
As an example of social change impacting SCA practice, Inspirational Equality cites women fighters. Hardly any women fought in period, and even thirty years ago in the SCA, it was considered a shocking change to let women on the field. Many male fighters at the time felt strongly that it compromised their honor to be asked to hit a woman in combat. Supporters of women fighters countered that it was more dishonorable to refuse your worthy opponent a fair fight, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The members of Inspirational Equality were heartened by the enthusiastic response of populace and peers alike at Sunday's tourney. Duke Amalric of An Tir voiced his support saying, "If the argument for women to be able to fight in the SCA was based only on historical data, we would still have a lot more discrimination in that regard too. It is allowed because it is the correct thing to do. The same should be true as regards inspirational equality. Let's face it, if the goal of [Inspirational Equality] was racial in nature, it wouldn't even be a fight for folks in the SCA. So, why should someone's sexuality be in question? ...We are talking rights here, nothing else matters (and I still stand by the idea of historical aspects taking a back seat to the basic issue of rights). We should NOT discriminate, period."
Based on the success of Sunday's action, the Inspirational Equality group is encouraging members in other Kingdoms to publicly enter as same gender couples in high-visibility tourneys. Inspirational Equality reminds all that, as with Crown lists, same-gendered couples need not be romantic partners, but simply inspired by one another. In fact, Maestro Eduardo can be seen in the photos below, enjoying the tourney with Viscountess AEringunnr Yrsudottir, wife to Eduardo's inspiration Viscount William, who generously agreed to share him for the day. Meanwhile, equally generous, Eduardo's husband Giovanni helped care for the couple's two children back at camp. The unique award of arms scroll granted to Giovanni this weekend can be seen below as well.
More information on Inspirational Equality can be found on their facebook page at the link below.