I realized the other day that it had been a while since I'd written anything here myself. Depression and I have been doing the cha-cha this month and my creativity has suffered--but really, that's no excuse not to blog on my blog.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a Facebook post from someone who very politely declined to name her source (for which I give a lot of credit). It seemed the argument of "women have no right to write gay romance" had reared its ugly head again--and the perpetrator was a gay man who happens to write gay romance. I wasn't able to track the original article down (I tried, but without a name, I couldn't find it--which might be a good thing. When I Googled, I got mostly articles championing the female authors who write gay rom.) I think this says a lot about the way we've evolved as readers--because I am as much of a reader as I am a writer. Lately, more so (but honest, feeling better this week and hope to knock out some kick-butt scenes. I've gotten preliminary notes back from one of my betas and apparently my story is on the right track *smile.*)
My own perception of what I write and why has evolved over the last three years, too. I wasn't sure how to define myself at first, especially in public. Author? Romance author? Gay romance author? M/M author?
Well, four books (three fiction, one non-fiction) later, I'm definitely an author. Just author. Not "published" author. Oh how it galls me when some people feel the need to tack "published" onto it. Seriously. If you've got a book out there, either in hard copy or electronic format, you're an author, plain and simple. Before my work was accepted and published, I called myself a writer and let folks know that I mostly wrote Torchwood fanfiction. I was completely proud of that. I still am. It's what led me to where I am today.
A while back I decided to say it loud and say it proud: I write gay romance. I have totally stopped chickening out--and surprisingly, I haven't gotten any hairy eyeballs. I have to admit that I was a little nervous when I started volunteering at APM. I figured it was fair to assume that most of the people in the office would be gay men--or at least that most of the men would be gay or bi. And yes, they are. Most have asked "why?" but it's been as an honest, fair question, with no snark attached. Everyone in the office is tremendously supportive, and several people, both men and women, have bought my books.
But even amongst supportive friends, I do sometimes have to repeat the fact that what I write is romance, not erotica. I don't mean to sound so defensive when I say that, but sometimes I have to say it so many times to the same person, I start to feel like a broken record. (Which is a reference the under-30 set probably won't get. Sigh. I'm old).
What's the difference (and why does it matter)? The heart and soul of my stories are the emotions of the characters--and yes, sometimes it's fair to categorize what I write as erotic romance (can we say Bound? *grin*).
The difference between erotica and erotic romance is the romance element--romance is, well, romance. It's about emotions. The flutter of your heart or that funny, giddy feeling in the pit of your stomach when that someone special walks into the room. That's what makes a romance a romance. Otherwise, it's just a hookup.
I know my friends don't actually think I'm writing smut (not that I have ANY problem with smut--quite the opposite in fact). But somehow there's this idea floating around that keeps getting repeated, even by open-minded, educated people that if it's two characters of the same gender it must somehow be automatically categorized as erotica or porn. Not only is that incorrect, but it only fuels the fires of some pretty dangerous misconceptions about real-life same-sex relationships.
Think about that for a second.
Remember, words have power; that's why it's important to chose the right words.
Now, why do I, a bisexual woman, write gay romance? There are lots of answers, but the most basic one is because that's what I love to read.
Maybe that's because the characters are fighting the odds--things are getting better, but I still live in America, home of Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson. Even in a book where the characters' families are understanding and their bosses are great, there's still the element of the underdog about them that gives me something to cheer for.
Maybe it's because, as Pasha pointed out in Hanging by the Moment, no matter where you go (unless it's a gay bar), the chances of a gay/bi man meeting another a gay/bi man are pretty slim, so it's that much more special when you meet that perfect someone and hit it off. (And yes, of course that's strictly perception; online dating has changed a lot since I was young and out and looking for a girlfriend. Still. It's part of the fairy tale and I love a good fairy tale.)
I write stories that are steamy and sexy because sex and sexuality are vital, beautiful, and healthy parts of the human experience. Of course it's meant to arouse the reader--I would be lying if I said otherwise. But my question would then become: what's wrong with that?