Hello and welcome! I’m participating in the Rainbow Review Blog Hop along with over 70 other authors and many of your favorite publishing companies.What does that mean for you? Follow the link back to the Blog List and discover the full extent of prizes up for grabs, as well as the links to all the other participants in the hop. Leave a comment with your email address on the various blog posts and you’ll be in the running to win books, gift coupons, and more! Not to mention you’ll read what brings writers in the GLBTQ community together from such diverse walks of life–some shared experiences will break your heart, others will make you laugh, and in still others, you might recognize your own life experience.
Do join the party as it plays on from August 24-26th! It’s going to be a blast!
The contest is now closed. If you are reading this blog and wish to leave a comment, you are more than welcome (in fact, invited!) but the winner for the e-book giveaway is Sue (corieltauviqueen at yahoo dot co dot uk). Thanks for stopping by, everyone! It’s been great chatting with you!
So why take the road less traveled, anyway? Why not move along with the herd–surely the majority knows best, right? You want that broad, well-marked path to take you to the same destination that are your friends and neighbors are planning to go. You don’t want to get lost or be left out!
You know what’s cool about the road less traveled? It’s usually quieter. There’s less noise and bustle, fewer people crowding their way along the path you’ve chosen. There’s time to listen to the birdsong, and close your eyes to the feel of the sun on your face.
Just be sure to open them so you don’t face-plant in the mud.
I often get asked why I choose to write M/M romance. I’m certainly not a gay man. Technically, I’m not a member of the GLBTQ community, unless I count by being a supporter. I have a few friends that are true members; what I experience as a supporter is not the same. I could no more truly understand what it is like to be discriminated against and actively hated for my sexual identity than I could for being black, or disabled, or overweight, or Muslim—or any ‘group’ of people that another, larger group feels it is okay to revile. So why do I write this form of fiction instead of traditional romance anyway? Given the meteoric sales of 50 Shades of Gray, I could take what I do, which is write sexy stories about people finding their way to love, join the masses of other authors writing traditional romances and not look back, right?
I’m not going to fall back on the stock answer of ‘if one guy is hot, two together is even hotter!’ (Not that there’s not some truth to that for me as a writer!) I think that’s an easy answer designed to fit into the 140 characters that Twitter demands of us. Thanks, Twitter and Facebook, BTW, for teaching us to deliver every meaningful thought as a sound bite. Look at me, I even included the shorthand for ‘by the way’ here without thinking.
I can’t completely explain my fascination with M/M romance. There are lots of factors that go into it, and I’m sure psychologists would have a field day with the subject anyway, but the bottom line is that for me personally, reading my first M/M romance story felt like for the very first time I was reading adult fiction. It was a revelation and I couldn’t get enough of it. It probably didn’t hurt that I discovered it through fanfiction, and that I loved my pairing to the extent I would read *anything* I could get my hands on about them. Reading about them lead to writing about them, and what made that experience so special to me was the chemistry between the characters—and the fact that even though they loved one another, they didn’t lose their ability to function, they could still do their jobs. Oh sure, there were misunderstandings, but not on the scale that I saw in most romances, where a simple conversation between principles could have saved everyone a ton of grief.
MLR Press is about to release a book titled Why Straight Women Love Gay Romance, a series of interviews with women all over the world asking this very question. I have to say, I can’t wait to read it. I want to know more about the legions of readers out there just like me. Who love stories about two men finding love on what is usually a rocky road.
Certainly, in the big scheme of things, we know that authors write about subjects they may not have specific personal experience with because that’s what writers do. We write about cancer, blindness, and zombie apocalypses. Elves, trolls, and hobbits. Vampires (sparkling or otherwise) and werewolves; hell, shifters of all sorts. Life on other planets. So while sometimes I wonder if I am unfairly capitalizing on the pain and unhappiness that can sometimes go along with life in the GBLTQ community, I remind myself that we as writers transmute everything we experience and turn it into empathy with someone else’s life experience. Yes, there are those of us who understand isolation and bullying, even if it has nothing to do with our sexual orientation. We’ve been caretakers, even though our dying loved one might not have had AIDS. And I would go so far to say that as a woman, I can look at the war being fought over my reproductive rights and see correlations in the right of two men or two women to get married if they so desire.
Because the right of two people of the same sex to marry, or the right of a woman to have access to birth control, to be able to make health care decisions concerning her own body, both come down to the same thing. A larger, more powerful group is trying to make laws that make these decisions for us—without our input or approval.
I grew up just after the Civil Rights movement had fought and won some of its strongest battles. I was raised to believe I could choose any profession I desired, that I was not limited by gender. My biggest problem was the competition I faced from all the young women just like me entering my field for the first time. The ground had been broken by others before me. I foolishly believed that once these battles had been won, they were victories forever. It wasn’t until I left college that I ran into real gender discrimination for the first time and it staggered me. I thought that war had been fought and won—game over, dude!
I can remember being asked on my first farm call how I, as a 120 pound woman, would handle a 2,000 pound bull. I raised an eyebrow at my questioner.
“It doesn’t matter if I’m 120 or 220, the bull still outweighs me by a factor of ten. I’m going to do what any sensible person would do. I’m going to use a head chute and drugs.”
The response got me a certain amount of grudging respect. Unlike the salesman who refused to show me a car with a stick shift.
“Aw, now honey,” he said to me, trying to put his arm around me to steer me in the direction of the long line of automatics. “You don’t want to have to be thinkin’ while you’re driving, now do you?”
I ducked out from under his arm. “What I don’t want to do is pay an extra $1500 for a transmission I don’t need.”
Needless to say, he didn’t make a sale that day.
Years later, I read an account of the first women’s astronaut program—the Mercury 13—and discovered that when I was a child, a woman couldn’t rent a car in the U.S. without the signature of a male relative. Presumably so a woman could not leave her husband without the permission of a father or brother. Regardless of the reason, I was floored by this revelation. A woman could not legally rent a car without a man telling the rental company that it was okay for her to leave her home. Even reading these words now, I find them hard to believe. I see too, that I was on the cusp between one generation’s beliefs and the next. Thank God, my mother believed in two things more than anything else: her heroine, Amelia Earhart, and the power of books to change your world.
Yeah, the car rental thing boggled the mind, but there was worse to come. That was when I realized that civil rights were fluid, based entirely on the whims of the people we vote into power. That’s why I’m horrified when I see some of my friends on Facebook come out in support of people who are bound and determined to take those rights away from us. You know what? Someone show me how my access to affordable birth control through Planned Parenthood has any impact on the economy. Show me how prohibiting same sex marriage is a boon to the bottom line. Tell me how prohibiting same sex marriage is any different than prohibiting interracial marriage—and yet that particular form of discrimination would be unthinkable now.
Well, perhaps not in another twenty years. It depends on who we vote into power over us.
So yeah, that’s why to a certain extent, I do feel as though I am a part of the GLBTQ community. Because I am passionate in my belief in marriage equality. Because I believe that no one should have to hide who they really are for fear of being abused or worse. Because we are all people in this together. And if the road I journey is a little less traveled, that means I’ll have time to notice you and smile on the way. And you know what? If enough people walk a certain path, it becomes more clearly defined so that other travelers can find it as well.
For everyone who leaves a comment here today, your name will be in the running to win a signed, print copy of Crying for the Moon (restricted to the Continental U.S.) or your choice of an e-book from my backlist if you live overseas. Please leave your email in your comment if you wish to take part in the contest.
Coming Soon from MLR Press: Going for Gold, the Olympic-themed M/M anthology including Lightning in a Bottle, a novella by Sarah Madison. (Release date August 31, 2012)