I got a lot of interesting responses to my last post, and one I had to respond to in longer form, from xtricks
I also think, however, that your implication about Jack’s motivations is also fanon – we really have no idea what he’s thinking the majority of the time about Ianto in CoE. Only at the end, in his very difficulty in saying he loved Ianto is there a strong (to me) suggesting that, in fact he did. The idea that he has some hugely different idea of social mores is fairly fanon, not canon. He’s been married, his reaction to Gwen was pretty typical UST, he shows signs of jealousy in regards to Rhys.
Point taken about CoE. I don't think my particular interpretation of Jack and Ianto's relationship in CoE is definitive, inarguable, or the last word. I just think it's more
supportable than some other ones that happen to be more popular.
However, the idea that Jack has a different idea of social mores... oh man, that's the hill I'll plant my flag and die on! I'm not angry at all; in fact, I really appreciate the chance to argue this. It's one of the things that attracted me to the character so much: the outsider perspective to social mores. It's my fanon, sure, but I think it's pretty well-supported and emotionally coherent.
Looking at Jack's developmental timeline, he spent his formative years in the 51st century, then had a period where he traveled all over, and he also learned how to imitate early 20th century UK/US culture enough to pass on the surface; then he got stranded in the 19th century. He's an immigrant, and more than that, a refugee, albeit a super-privileged one. Like a lot of people who emigrate to foreign countries as adults, he learns the culture, sometimes well enough to pass, but he refuses to learn anything that would jeopardize his sense of self as someone who is fundamentally different, someone who was formed in the 51st century. That's a pretty common psychological phenomenon. People who immigrate as very young children or babies, people who immigrate as older children or adolescents, and people who immigrate as full adults have very, very different identity formation processes, although there's enough of a range that I can't say "it's always 100% this way."
Anyway, he knows the culture well enough on the surface. He knows what marriage means, and sexual jealousy, and how men and women and straight and gay people are so supposed to act in certain culturally-sanctioned ways, and so on. But sometimes he blocks himself from learning more and sometimes he refuses
to learn more. There's a certain conservatism at issue, although Jack's "conservatism" would be the polar opposite of what people think of as social conservatism. But he's holding on to the old (future) and conserving it. Drawing a line and refusing to change himself past that line. He can't show outside signs of that conservatism -- he can't, say, put a bumper sticker on his SUV that says "51st Century and Proud!" -- but he shows it in other ways, dropping things like "you people and your labels" and also adopting a weird conservatism in dress (the WWII-era wardrobe).
And I think his jealousy of Rhys is more about mortality than anything else. Jack probably goes through stages of wanting a normal human according to some sort of cultural standard. Rhys can have that with Gwen. Jack can't. And John Hart is capable of getting jealous, too... he was jealous of Jack's relationship with his team.
As someone who loves reading and writing Jackstory, and is obsessed with looking at through an anthropological and psychological lens as much as an emotional/poetic one, I will hang on with every ounce of strength to the idea that he has a totally different idea of social mores. That's the one thing that would probably kill my love of the character, if he lost that!
Anyway, I love laying out arguments for this stuff.