Gay Romances by Straight Writers only please

Raise your hand if you’re offended by the title of this blog post?  How many of you clicked on this link only because you were offended?

Yes, I would be offended too.

I was very hesitant to write this post, but since this incident is still annoying me several days later I have decided what the hell.

This week I was accused of being homophobic.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Not by a person I know or anyone I have met, but by a stranger on the internet and a member of one of the online m/m romance reading communities that I am a part of.

I will point out here that I don’t normally use the term queer.  I am using it in this post however since it was the word this stranger used and I am quoting her.

You may be wondering why this accusation of homophobia was flung in my direction.  Well, I can tell you it was because I, along with several other readers/authors, didn’t like seeing yet another request for m/m romance books but only by writers who identify as queer.

My first instinct was to find a really bad book written by a gay man and recommend that.  I half wish I had done that instead of pointing out that the sexual orientation of an author is not the business of readers.  I don’t even know the orientation of most of the authors I read.  It is none of my business, just as my sexual orientation is none of theirs.

If you don’t want to buy my books because you think they are rubbish or seem uninteresting then fair enough. But what sort of person buys books based on who the writer chooses to have sex with?

Well, apparently some members of the GLBT community do.

I tried to draw a comparison to other genres, pointing out that to write a thriller about a serial killer you don’t have to be one.  That earned me an accusation of accusing gay authors of being serial killers, and of being homophobic.  There was also mention of failing to support the queer community, as well as the original poster not wanting to listen to straight whining and straight tears etc.

I was told that when someone who identifies as queer and they read a badly written gay romance by a straight person it stays with them because they are being stereotyped.

I have read many – that is thousands – of m/f romances over the years.  I have never read a single one where the heroine is anything like me.  Every single hero and heroine in a romance novel is a stereotype of some kind of person.

But what you don’t see is readers of those books claiming the stereotype has damaged them in some way.

Romance stories, no matter who the couple is about are fiction.  They are not real people. Unless someone has written a biography about you personally I can promise you are not being personally attacked by the author of this book for writing a person of your sexuality in the way that they have.  Everyone is different.

Yes, I am sure there are bad gay romances written by straight writers.  Chances are some people out there will say mine are some of those, as well as every other author out there.

Bad books are not bad because of the writer’s sexuality, they are bad because of poor writing, bad editing, lack of research etc.  And a gay writer can make just as many mistakes in that regard.

Now let me turn this around.

Suppose I went into a m/m romance reading community and asked for recommendations only written by straight people.

I would be turned on so quickly my head would spin.  I would be accused of being homophobic and prejudiced against gay writers.  And rightly so.

So what makes it okay for someone to do the exact opposite?

The m/m romance reading/publishing community has a lot of straight writers in it.  We are a part of that community and we deserve to be treated with the same respect as those writers who identify as anything other than straight.

Treating other people with prejudice and bigotry is wrong.  It does not matter who you are or what community you are a part of.

The straight writers in the m/m romance publishing industry are some of the biggest supports for equal rights.  And no, I am not talking about their writing.  I am talking about other stuff like fund raising and community projects etc.

To discount books written by authors who identify as straight is a huge slap in the face to some of the biggest supporters for GLBT rights.

We are not the bad guys here and we are pretty tired of being treated as though we were.

We are a part of the m/m romance reading/writing community and we shouldn’t have to keep having to justify our presence there.

I am sure there are some people who will say that we’re only getting now what the GLBT community has had to put up with for years.   My response to that is two wrongs don’t make a right.

Our asking to be treated equally isn’t homophobic.

Treating writers who identify as straight in this way is prejudiced and bigoted.  Just as it would be if it were the other way around.

We stand alongside the GLBT community in fighting for equal rights for everyone.  So why don’t we deserve to be treated equally within the m/m reading/writing community?

6 responses to “Gay Romances by Straight Writers only please

  1. I must admit I’m completely lost about what the gender, orientation, or other attributes has to do with their writing. As long as they write a good story, I don’t care if they’re straight, bi, gay, lesbian, asexual, transgender, or green with neon orange stripes! All this hoopla has me so irritated I could scream! Could someone please explain this to me?

  2. Uhg! Whatever the original argument was, I am glad I missed it! I hate this debate so much.
    I guess I understand that people who identify as gay/queer are in a tough place with m/m romance. On one hand, it is fantasy, an idealized or dramatized representation, just like all Romance fiction is, and shouldn’t be seen as any kind of socio-political statement. But on the other hand, it is a genre where LGBT representation is strong and I do believe the genre’s popularity has had a positive impact on the global fight for LGBT equality and acceptance, even if that positivity comes with a sometimes side order of fetishzation.
    I also realize people buy books for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes, those reasons might be to support certain groups. I might try to seek out female authors, or authors who are veterans, or authors with ties to some other group, simply to support that group. So I do understand, in theory, the desire to seek out work by “queer” authors.
    It bothers me, though, that no matter how interesting/entertaining/well-written my stories are, they will always be second fiddle to a m/m romance by a “real” gay author. And it bothers me that people openly promote and seek out only gay authors, because as long as that is happening, there will be straight authors who pretend to be gay, and I think that is gross.

    I’m sorry you were called homophobic. ❤ Sometimes people suck.

  3. Keep writing, and don’t mind the trolls, queer or otherwise.

  4. I read the original thread and was appalled. Below is a response I wrote to another blog post about the same subject:

    Generally, I don’t pay attention to who wrote a book until after I’ve read it. If I like it, then I’ll remember the author. (I am one of those swayed by the covers and blurbs.) Reading is about escaping into the world that the author created. How successful that world is, depends on the author’s writing capabilities.

    Frankly I am tired of people complaining that women should not be writing m/m romance. Who the hell cares? Seriously. What should matter is the quality of the story, not the sex of the person who wrote it. Why is it any business of the reader who the author sleeps with?

  5. Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

    Amelia, I have no problem with people seeking to support a particular group. I am sure everyone does it on occasion, but most wouldn’t take the tone that a small group of readers do, in that they basically attack straight writers for even daring to write the m/m genre.

    The reader whose comments led to this particular post is an extreme example of that.

  6. I want to high five you so hard right now. You keep doing what you do, and let your private life/orientation stay where it belongs – in your bedroom, not on my ereader! 😉

    I know there are publishers with LGBT-books-by-LGBT-writers-ONLY imprints, and this hacks me off no end. I didn’t realise that signing a publishing contract meant I was also signing away my right to keep my sex life between me and my lover(s).

    Not only do some readers think they are owed a piece of your sexuality, so too do some publishers.

    And I get your serial killer analogy totally. No-one asks, for example, Stuart MacBride if he’s a serial killer. Why the fucking fuck should it matter to anyone whether or not you’re queer, as an author of queer romance?

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