Why Does Your Romance Have to Be Gay?
I have a large family, mostly because I’m always looking to adopt new members to replace the one I can’t please. You know the one. (What, not everyone has that one member of the family who never fully accepts them? WHAT?!) So, yeah, I have a large extended and adopted family. I mean, we’re not legal on paper or anything, but the love is there, and that’s all that really matters.
The thing about family is that they want what’s best for you. When you say you’re a writer, they want to know when you’re going to be published. They expect your book to be in every Barnes and Noble, with a huge publishing house imprint on the spine. You are the only writer they know. They expect you to be as big as that Stephen King guy, right?
No. No, that’s not right. There are many, many of us who work damn hard at what we do and have nothing published by Random House Harper Collins Penguin Scholastic Awesomesauce Publishing.
But how do you explain that to family?
Worse, how do you explain that to family along with, “Oh, and my main character is a dude who likes other dudes. He falls in love with a dude who loves him back. They have sex. Lots of sex.”
“But honey,” says lovely family member, “Heterosexual sex sells. Have you read Fifty Shades of Shit?”
Cue eye roll. Yes, I cursed through the first book. Thankfully, it was a paperback, so I didn’t toss my Kindle across the room in response to my inner goddess. There is not enough peer pressure in the world to make me read the rest of the series. If that’s your idea of BDSM, you need to 1) stop being a fucking doormat and 2) broaden your horizons. A sub isn’t a doormat. A good Dom knows that. A scene isn’t for punishment; it’s for pleasure. Sure, there may be a little pain, but only if the sub likes a little pain, and knows that before the scene starts. If you don’t know what I mean, do some research.
So yeah, family, I know het sex sells, along with a whole crap-ton of misogyny, misunderstanding the human condition, and underestimating women. Could I be the one to turn the world on its head and show strong female characters having great sex? Show me a world ready for that, first.
Why does my romance have to be gay? I write about men who like men. Those are the stories that interest me. Those are the voices in my head. Does that make me some kind of horrible fetishist? Well, people are going to say so, but I don’t think so.
I write for my friend who never had a real boyfriend.
I write for Freddie. Nobody should have to die of AIDS, just to prove that he deserved to live.
I write for all the boys out there who like other boys.
I write for all the girls out there who like other girls. Girls will read about boys before boys will read about girls.
I also write for the girls who like boys. They’re the ones who will teach their children to love, not hate, our differences.
Maybe if my friend John had read a gay romance, he wouldn’t have killed himself. Maybe if he’d read, seen, or heard anything that gave gay characters a happy ending, he wouldn’t have killed himself.
So yeah, I write for me, but I also write to quiet the voice in my head that whispers, “He’s dead because of you.”
That whisper is still stronger than family asking, “Why does your romance have to be gay?”
Al and Denny exist because of me. Drexel and Robbie exist because of me. Ranald and Ephram exist because of me. That’s not enough to bring John back. Nothing will bring Freddie back. But it’s enough for me.