I have a couple of theories about 2 things in DOL which have been puzzling me:
1. Why does Mildmay dislike Murtagh on sight?
2. Why is it that Felix is so against 'doing women'?
In answer to the first question, I think that because Murtagh reminds Felix of Malkar, Mildmay must have a similar feeling of recognition too, maybe subconsciously, so he instinctively reacts to him the way he does, also considering he's never really worked out the issues of what was done to him while he was being captive.
Felix is forced to interact with Murtagh, and finds out that he's not like Malkar at all, so he's ok with him.
About the second question, I wonder if Felix feels so strongly about it because he does not want to risk fathering a child?
If he accidentally made some strange woman pregnant, in his mind (growing up in Melusine where so many children are abandoned to roam in feral packs or are sold to keepers/brothels) there is a distinct possibility his child could end up having a fate similar to his own, and considering the kind of childhood he had, he wouldn't want to wish it on his worst enemy.
Except that Mildmay did freak out, they were just in a life/death situation so he had bigger priorities at the moment. Also, this comment is pretty dismissive. When he was being raped by a woman, it was not just a rape like the kind he had suffered for basically all his life, it was also, in addition to being a horrible experience, a rape of his very sexual identity. He specified that he was gay when he met the client and that he was only going to engage in sex with men. They brought in the woman just to fuck with him. It was just another level of humiliation and torture. I work with rape survivors. Men can have as especially..."visceral" reaction to being forced to penetrate someone, especially someone they would not normally be attracted to (like a woman, when you're gay). It's a curse of external genitalia. It's a sign that you are aroused, even if you didn't want it; it's a symbol of the rapist's power over you.
Also, he was being fucking raped, his reaction is obviously going to be visceral.
The last line of this comment is buying into the stereotype that abuse turns kids gay. Mildmay was abused by a woman. Felix was abused by men. That has nothing to do with either of their sexual orientations.
In summation: Felix is gay, that is ALL there is to it. Thank you and good night.
Well, I felt dismissed. It never occurred to me that childhood trauma "turned Felix gay" and I'm young enough that it's not very present in my mind as a theory. I don't think all gay people are alike and assuming that "being gay" means that everything about you is now clearly defined is rather dismissive. Straight and bi people have different reactions -- why pretend that gay people are less interesting?
But I realize that, especially in my bookish circles, I live in a very protective bubble, where sexual orientation is not something that worries people -- some people are straight, some gay, some have kids, some have traveled abroad, some have experienced medical problems, and all of these things are sometimes relevant but usually not. So when it didn't occur to me that people would think that referring to Felix's horrible childhood would imply a reason to be gay or a problem with being gay, it honestly didn't but I can see how that could be read that way. I apologize.
Felix is gay. But he ALSO has discomfort with (sexual) women, which may relate to his personal history. Mildmay does not want to have sex with men (particularly with his brother), but he does not display the same discomfort -- in the river he isn't "ACK! A penis!" but "ACK -- my BROTHER's arousal!" And homosexuality does not seem to be a taboo in their lives, so I don't think it's just that straight is the privileged role. When Mildmay turns down homosexual advances, I don't get any sense of "ick," just "not interested." Felix usually can't conceal his "ick" reaction.
Kay is gay, and is getting married to a woman. It is possible that they will have sex someday; it would probably be a policy choice (they need a child, or a legal thing). If they had to, they'd probably manage it; Kay wouldn't expect to enjoy it but I don't think he'd find it traumatic. He always figured he'd have a marry a woman someday in the future, although he was putting it off as long as he could. I think Felix would react differently. Two gay men, but different people with different personalities.
It could be that sex & pain & love are so mixed up for Felix that it ties into this. The love that he remembers as a child with Joline was the only one not mixed up with sex and pain. So that could reinforce his disinclination to see women as sex partners, which for him are very linked with pain (again, not saying it CAUSES him not to see women as sex partners. He doesn't, and then the need not to mix memories of Joline in with his adult interactions gives it extra revulsion). Or maybe it's part of his general distaste for being touched -- with men, sometimes it's worth getting over it for the sexual pleasure, but there's none of that with a woman's touch. He has no interest in it, and there are reasons it's very triggery for him.
I don't think it's about having children though; I don't remember Felix ever thinking about that.