The Tent Peg Statement

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Event: The Tent Peg Statement
Date(s): around 1998
Fandom: Pern & Anne McCaffrey
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"The Tent Peg Statement" is an infamous fandom wank involving Anne McCaffrey, a noted science fiction writer who had many intricate and precise rules for fans talking about, and creating fanworks, about dragonriders's sexuality and dragons. [1]

"The Tent Peg Statement" is centered around McCaffrey's 1998 private q&a session between Anne and a fandom administrator who was passing along some questions from some generic fanfiction writers [2]. In this interview, McCaffrey said that any man who engages in anal sex becomes gay, even if that anal sex was rape, and more generally around her depiction of gay people in the Dragonriders of Pern series. As proof, she offered an example of a man she knew personally who was "involved in a rape situation involving a tent peg. This one event was enough to have him start on a road that eventually led to him becoming effeminate and gay."

Although McCaffrey tried to wipe this statement and the interview from memory, it has made its way to the internet where it is widely known and mocked even in non-fannish circles. [3]

In 2000, post-interview, some of these McCaffrey's Pern rules were amended to seem less offensive. See Pern's Renewable Airforce (repost). At one point, all Pern fandom games and message boards were required to post a copy of this and obey it, otherwise they would be shut down by McCaffrey's lawyers. Copies of these statements can still be found on Google with ease.


Anne McCaffrey is a Hugo and Nebula award winning author of the Dragonriders of Pern series, among others. Pern has a large fandom which involves dragonriders who must engage in mindless sex when their dragons are in season. With the majority of female dragons on Pern being ridden by males, this means there's a lot of slash potential.

The wank involves a long running fandom debate on whether the green female dragons have the ability to deliberately choose gay males to soulbond, or if the riders of the dragons can be any orientation.

McCaffrey herself said in 1992:

Well, now, it's like this...when the dragons mate, their riders are so consumed with their dragons' passions, that there's really only one way to vent it: enjoying the sexual act themselves. The double whammy is something incredible. Since most green riders are male, and most blue, brown and bronze riders are also male, the obvious need not be stated. However, it is permissible within the Weyrs for the less-enthusiastic about this pairing having an alternate of the opposite sex available. The green rider will also have someone of his preference available so that the double charge is not lost...if you don't mind me being a tad bawdy. Actually, many of the Candidates are weyrbred and accustomed to such demands and think little of it. It's the main bone of contention between the hidebound Halls and Holds and the the Weyrs for the Halls and Holds don't really `like' such innovations. Still, the rider is always compelled by concern for his dragon and THAT consideration makes the difference in such a sexual situation. And it is ALSO an incredible experience, one to be treasured. And yes, there could be more female riders of green dragons to relieve that dilemma but after the early Plagues, women were needed more as mothers to increase the population (something men still haven't been able to do on their own) and flying constantly between is how to abort on Pern. (Queen dragons are not always as horny as the greens and as they are low-level Thread fighters, their pregnant riders could generally manage without constantly going *between* in the performance of their duties.) Anyway, I thought homos deserved a place in the elite social structure on Pern. [4]

A fan in 2002 said:

You might not be aware of *another* infamous document of Anne's wisdom. This little gem is known in fandom circles as the "tentpeg interview," and is Anne's delightful explanation of Why All Greenriders Are Gay (REALLY, Not The PC Apologia About Them Being Substitutes For Women). The tentpeg interview was a private q&a session between Anne and a fandom administrator who was passing along some questions from some generic fanfiction writers. Tra la la, the interview was buzzing along nicely, and then, right between the eyes, Anne does one of her famous "blindside the questioner with a burst of temper" stunts. [5]

The Quote

A: The situation will arise where two males will enagage in sexual activity. Greenriders, have to be homosexual.

Q: Some fandom Weyrs choose to seperate sexual tendencies and flight related sex experiences...

A: Let me stop you right there, there is no seperation. Two men engaging in sexual activity with one another are gay. The dragons choose based on their own drives.

Q: *audible pause* *sounds of paper rustling* But, uh, some people say one experience, especially under the control of outside forces dosen't really make you *emphasis* gay.

A: It's not a matter of the rider *emphasis* becoming homosexual. Green and blue dragons choose people who are already homosexual. And even if circumstances arose, and a green dragon chose a heterosexual lifemate... Well, he would become homosexual. It's a proven fact that a single anal sex experience causes one to be homosexual. The hormones released by a sexual situation involving the anus being broached, are the same hormones found in large quantities in effeminate homosexual males. For example, when I was much younger I knew a young man who was for all intents and purposes, heterosexual. He was mugged, and involved in a rape situation involving a tent peg. This one event was enough to have him start on a road that eventually led to him becoming effeminate and gay.[6][7][8]

Fan Reactions to the Statement


Many members of online Pern fandom find McCaffrey's ideas about sexuality highly questionable for a number of reasons, both scientific and ethical. (Most infamously, she claimed in an interview that science has proven that being the receptive partner in anal sex triggers a hormonal change that will make a previously heterosexual man become homosexual and effeminate. Thus, she argues, even if a male greenrider were originally heterosexual, he would not stay that way.) In later interviews McCaffrey claims that green dragons merely pick up on psychological clues from homosexual boys before they themselves know that they are homosexual. "A green Hatchling is unlikely to be impressed (pun intended) by a heterosexual boy."" [9]


I seriously doubt the validity of interview in the OP. Anne McCaffrey is supposedly an intelligent person-she created a whole fantasy universe complete with it's own logic and rules. The statements are clearly unintelligent and I can find no other references to them anywhere on the Net. Also the matter of fact approach to gay sex in the books doesn't reflect the attitude of the interview. Given that the Pern series has such a large following I would think that any interviews she has given would be hashed and rehashed on fan sites.

BTW the forum mentioned which is the only place containing any reference to the 'quote' appears to have been abandoned. Page after page in every section of it have become a repository for porn links.

I think the 'quote' is some hocum cooked up by a member of that forum who was after some attention for some unhealthy reason. Maybe it was an attempt to steer a discussion around to anal sex (as a way of getting a cheap thrill) or create an argument/flame war. It might even have been attempt to make him/herself seem more important and in the know on a 'top secret' interview….

The quoted scenario to me seems more like something made up by teenagers to scare each other than an interview with an esteemed author. [10]

I will only cavil to the effect that writing good fiction -- even highly intelligent fiction -- and holding stupid personal beliefs are not (alas) incompatible. [11]

As I understood it, the interviewer put some pressure on her, and she blurted out a somewhat confused panic response. Still, people tend to blurt what they think… [12]

I know that this doesn't make it any truer, but I've read this before. On first reading this thread I was sure that it's been an much repeated "fact" in fannish circles for years, but google says no. I don't know what to believe anymore. Maybe I have false memories. [13]


A further dialogue with Anne, the controversial “Tent Peg” interview, states, “if circumstances arose, and a green dragon chose a heterosexual lifemate… Well, he would become homosexual. It’s a proven fact that a single anal sex experience causes one to be homosexual”. This notion severely damages the author’s credibility on the subject, so it would seem prudent to ignore statements made outside the novels themselves. [14]


Oh man, Anne McCaffrey fandom was a trip. Between the rules and the tent peg thing (warning: super homophobic, read at your own risk) I never actually finished a fic and also really read any of her stuff again. [15]

I’m old enough to remember the damn tent peg thing making the rounds. If you aren’t familiar during an interview asking about sexualities of riders of green dragon riders (male green dragon riders and whatever dragon rider MAN was impressed with the dragon mating said green dragon end up having relations driven by the passion of their dragons….) and a big question arose as to if green dragons picked gay riders, and “what if the green D[r]agon picked a straight rider,” to which she replied, to the effect of “if you have sex with a man once and are straight, even if it’s rape (an actual story about a straight man being raped by a tent peg was inserted here by McCaffrey at this point) you become gay.” So yeah, bisexual and questioning erasure, neither of which I was but so many of my not-out or trying to find their way friends were, and such a horrifying dismissal of their sexuality from one of my favorite childhood authors was devastating. [16]

Further Reading


  1. ^ "An idea first put forth in the infamous, but still unverified, "Tent Peg" interview and implied in her on-the-record "Renewable Air Force" interview." -- Television Tropes and Idioms
  2. ^ We ride in Search!, Archived version, comment at by Heather Moore (July 21, 2002)
  3. ^ A Google search for the word 'tent peg' in 2010 reveals that a hit for this wank is the eighth result. In June 2011, it turned up third. -- Tent Peg Quote on FeministSF.Net], page found 2011-06-12.
  4. ^ 3b. Rider behavior during Mating Flights., see more at Dragons, Sexuality, and Gender
  5. ^ We ride in Search!, Archived version, comment at by Heather Moore (July 21, 2002)
  6. ^ David Peary. Comment in Rider's Pride & Sexual Orientation/Discrimination thread on Gay Authors forum, 12 May 2007. Repost of interview excerpt.
  7. ^ New Landing Forums on as referenced by David Peary, contains a comment made on January 22, 2004 by Katiehollands which includes this part of the interview transcript. (Wayback Machine version), accessed April 19, 2011
  8. ^ "I'll see if I can locate the original interview; I know it was passed around among the Pernmush crew back in the 90s, I don't know if anyone has the direct cite any more. It was a fan interview, IIRC." -- Anne McCaffrey tentpeg hullaballoo [Archive - RPGnet Forums], comment by tevella
  9. ^ Anne McCaffrey's 1998 quote is from Kitchen Table Bulletin Board, from Wikipedia's article on Pern's Dragons
  10. ^ 2007 comment by jelly bean queen at Anne McCaffrey on anal sex - Page 2 -, Archived version
  11. ^ 2007 comment by Silas Sparkhammer at Anne McCaffrey on anal sex - Page 2 -, Archived version
  12. ^ 2007 comment by Troberg at Anne McCaffrey on anal sex - Page 2 -, Archived version
  13. ^ 2007 comment by BrokenBiscuit at Anne McCaffrey on anal sex - Page 2 -, Archived version
  14. ^ What about the tent peg?, Archived version (2014)
  15. ^ [j-j-j-jenny-and-the-cats raisedbyhyenas] at So I’m on AO3 ...(the forgotten history of disclaimers) (2017)
  16. ^ [blitzdrake] replied to [ladydrace] at So I’m on AO3 ...(the forgotten history of disclaimers) (2017)