[ But maybe everything’s different now – who knows? ]
It occurs to me that subtlety has thus far proven inefficient at clarifying the subject of Tanim and Daren’s sexuality. That is understandable, of course, as sexuality is by the very nature of the story format both fluid and (often purposefully on my part) ill-defined. Therefore, I want to approach the topic from a more direct route in the hopes of clearing up any misconceptions caused by the myriad variations of Tanim and Daren’s relationship.
In most fragments Tanim’s sexual orientation can for all intents and purposes be considered classically asexual. Tanim feels no sexual attraction toward either men or women, nor does he feel any real desire to engage in sexual activity. Of course, this seems completely at odds with how he acts toward Daren, as well as with his rather promiscuous past. Tanim’s apparent homosexuality is actually the result of two separate, though often entangled, aspects of his personality. The first is Tanim’s belief that submission to the Beloved is the highest form of love. For Tanim, an important part of this is submission of the body. Therefore, it is his love for Daren that sparks his desire for physical intimacy (and here I should note that physical intimacy does not necessarily equate with sex), not a desire for the man’s body itself. Because of this, no other man or woman can inspire the same lust in Tanim. The second aspect of Tanim’s personality which causes him to seem overly sexual is a form of the aforementioned belief, but one that is perverted to the point of fetishism. In more extreme fragments Tanim often seeks out sexual intimacy in an attempt to experience the complete vulnerability found in total submission to another. It isn’t about sexual release for him; only loss of control and free will, both of which are surrendered most fully during sex. The reason that he seems homosexual is because his chosen partners are usually male, as in his eyes men are more aggressive and therefore able to take control of him in a way women cannot. So even though Tanim may come off as textbook homosexual in nature, that perception is actually the result of his desire for bodily submission and not an actual sexual attraction to men.
Daren’s sexual orientation is not as easily defined as Tanim’s. Daren fits the idea of asexuality in that he is not sexually attracted to either gender, nor does he have virtually any sex drive, but his nonexistent libido is not necessarily caused by classic asexuality. Daren is a troubled man damaged both physically and emotionally. In any given fragment he may suffer from a variety of afflictions, including post traumatic stress disorder and any number of debilitating illnesses, and every one of these has a strong impact on the level of his sexual desire. At his best, Daren is comfortable with both giving and receiving physical touch but still has little to no sexual desire, most likely due to his body’s weakened state. At his worst, however, Daren suffers from such severe past trauma that he is repulsed by the very thought of being touched. In such a case, any degree of sexual intimacy may push him over the edge into an intense PTSD relapse. Therefore, it is hard to judge Daren’s true sexual orientation due to the number of complicated factors influencing his decreased libido (and often culminating in complete impotency). His attachment to Tanim does suggest a certain amount of latent homosexuality, but that cannot be concluded with any certitude since his love for Tanim isn’t sexual in nature and he has never entertained even the remotest affection for any other person.
Perhaps the largest misconception of Tanim and Daren is that their relationship always involves some form of sexual intimacy. In fact, this is only the case in a small number of fragments. In fragments where Daren is more stable, both emotionally and physically, they may engage in physical intimacy (and here once again I do not necessarily refer solely to sexual intercourse) but even then it is not on a frequent basis. For Tanim, sexual submission is a meaningful act which need not occur on a daily or even weekly basis. Daren has very little interest in sex, especially since he is by no means as sexually aggressive as Tanim would prefer, so he really only engages in the act when Tanim desires it. In most fragments, however, Daren is incapable of physical intimacy due to either emotional issues, physical disability, or simply a lack of interest. So while Tanim and Daren may often appear to be involved in a typical homosexual relationship, their bond is much more complicated and far less sexual than expected.