There's a lot of happy warm fuzzy fic where everyone is bi and sex happens a lot. I like. Is good.
But there's also a lot where someone is horribly homophobic (and gets over it in the usual slash fiction way.)
And usually that's Steve, on the basis that everyone in the 40s was horribly homophobic and it was illegal and prison and kicked out of the army etc etc etc
And, yes, there was all that bad stuff, laws, hospitals, getting kicked out or not let in, at least in theory, but that wasn't the whole story.
There was a whole argument when Torchwood did the Captain Jack Harkness episode and there were men kissing in the 40s, and that argument went a bit nasty. There was a whole thing where some people were saying that because it was illegal and gay men were not allowed in the military then the story was historically inaccurate because there were therefore no gay men in the armed forces. Because laws make people not exist. Also there was an ugly thread that suggested that Jack getting dead the next day was causally linked to the public kissing. That a man would be treated poorly because he was gay.
Since I only read stories about Steve dating men that necessarily involve a hero of WWII being gay, so, not so ugly as the never-existed thing.
But stuff I read around the Torchwood argument suggested that basically, on the whole, during World War II, everyone was too busy fighting the war to actually care who was shagging who. Kicking people out of the army for it was somewhat unlikely, due to them needing everyone they could get. And the actual soldiers were on the whole more concerned with survival. People on their side were of the good, basically.
Faced with the danger of German invasion and the need to maximise combat strength, military chiefs unofficially waived their objections to homosexuals in uniform. Even soldiers caught having gay sex rarely suffered severe punishment. A few got off with a reprimand and warning from their commanding officer. Some were hastily transferred to a new unit. Others were assigned to hard labour for a few weeks to 'knock the queerness out of them' and turn them into 'real men'.
(I also liked the part about how one man did a lot for unit morale)
So, while it's perfectly possible Steve grew up with nasty attitudes and had to live with homophobia and finds the new days a bright and shining relief, it's also possible he knew guys, or was guys, and nobody did much about it because busy.
Flip side of what I read, Tony Stark.
There is a lot of fic that considers it so obvious Tony is bi that it's just background, something Steve can find out on the net, something the whole world knows from parties.
And, yes, the man has chemistry with everyone.
But, you can plausibly get somewhere else from his life.
Lots of dealings with the US military, with their official policy of being dicks about it.
And mostly with older and more senior US military, who have had longer to decide that their way is the right way, and to look down on certain choices and behaviours.
And also, Rhodey, his best friend, is military.
Honestly, I want to like the guy, mostly do like, so I figure if Tony was shagging everyone in sight Rhodey would just sigh and hope he wouldn't bring a boyfriend to a weapons demonstration. My head canon for Tony&Rhodey is that Tony keeps trying and R keeps being straight but not actually minding. I like them that way, comfortable.
But if I want to write a Tony who has had internalised homophobia messing up his life, he could just assume his friend would react poorly, and he really needs his friend. He has a friend shortage. He'd really try to keep his friend.
Tony's dad was older, so could import older attitudes, and yes I just got done arguing that older attitudes weren't always as hate filled as they sounded but the way people got treated soon as they weren't so much needed ... it's plausible, anyway. And even if Howard was some model of enlightenment, or possibly just not an active hypocrite, Howard died and Tony spent a long time around mostly Obi.
Obadiah Stane was an evil manipulative bastard who spent all his time trying to keep Tony under control, or to be more precise out of control in many recreational ways so as to keep him out of the way of business.
If Tony had relationships with men... no, they wouldn't have been relationships, a good relationship makes someone happier and more stable and more secure and all that good stuff, so there's someone Tony trusted all his life that would have been actively making sure there were no relationships. Easy to do to half the genders if you keep someone in the closet and state you're keeping scandal away. And easy to undermine with self loathing if society has that narrative close to hand.
And he could do it all by talking up Howard the hero, the real man, the American ideal, and how Tony isn't living up to that. (Even if Howard had just as many boyfriends as girlfriends, before he got married. Which isn't a story I personally want to read, because parents, ugh, but is a perfectly possible reading of Captain America era flirting.)
Treating bisexuality like a mental illness... well psychiatry changed the definitions on that before Tony got born, but it's not like there's a shortage of people who still do it anyway. And Stane went straight to the calling everything symptoms place after the cave, so, maybe he went there about the other.
I think there's plenty of room for Tony to be seriously messed up about relationships, and especially about being queer.
I *like* better when everyone is healthy and happy and loves who they love and it's all awesome.
But if there has to be a journey to get there... I kind of like the idea of 40s guy who, as far as we know, has barely even been kissed, being the one to teach Tony Stark, famous playboy, some important things about what he likes in bed.
And Captain America being the shining beacon of all that is good, teaching Tony to see himself as someone better, is also the fun theme, especially if it involves coming out on national television and campaigning for all the social justice.
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