Yes, that is the question I keep hearing in the LGBT community. Can I as a straight woman write gay male fiction? My answer is yes; Why the hell not? There are many people who feel because of my sexual orientation I don’t have a clue what it is to be a gay man in today’s society. True I am a straight woman not a gay man. I’ve never claimed to be able to understand what it’s like to walk in a gay man’s shoes, but I’ve seen what society does to those considered socially unacceptable mainly through the eyes of religions still lost in the Dark Ages.
Years ago when I began writing I felt the same way as those who might question my capacity to create believable stories with male protagonists who happen to love men. What did I know about gay sex? The thing is that it was my fear of what others might think or say that held me back from delving into LGBT fiction. When I realized the source of my doubts I shook it off, took a deep breath, and dove in headfirst to hell with what others might think.
As I’ve mentioned in the past I began writing fiction when I discovered fandom. Since my teenage years I’ve always found myself attracted on an emotional and intellectual level to male characters and not women. When I was in junior high and most girls were gobbling up Harlequin Romances I was neck-deep in Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and John Saul just to name a few. To me those flowery romances of the 197o’s and 1980’s were ridiculous excuses for books. Love to me was not about flowers and candy, but rather the depth of passion for another human no matter what the world said. Love came in too damn many shapes, sizes, and colors to box it in one simple package. To quote one of my favorite genre characters, Agent Fox Mulder If we fail to anticipate the unforeseen or expect the unexpected in a universe of infinite possibilities, we may find ourselves at the mercy of anyone or anything that cannot be programmed, categorized or easily referenced.
As writers we can find ourselves at the mercy of publishers, reviewers, and as often with most things in this modern society we will find we’re being told what we can and can’t do. I’ve experienced this in some ways. Back in 2008 I was originally recruited by a now defunct e-publisher for a LGBT line they were planning. Things were going good until it came to the cover art. The artist, if you could call them that, created a cover that horrified me. The main character was a bi-sexual academic, but her choice appeared more of (as my friends nick-named him) an angry rent boy. When I confronted her about it I was told Do you know how difficult it is to find pictures of gay men? I did a double-take. How in the hell can you tell if a man is gay simply by a picture? In my experience men gay or otherwise come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. To me that statement was out-and-out wrong. Thankfully I did not get published with them due to the company doors being closed.
Another example of being told something which was complete poppycock was when my first novel was reviewed by a site that I would never send another MS to if they were the last one in existence. The reviewer seemed under the assumption men, gay or otherwise, were incapable of emotion or of all things fainting. Excuse me? Said reviewer described my main character’s love interest as a Disney fairytale princess. This character was effeminate to an extent I suppose although I thought of him as more asexual. He was emotional and yes, damn it he fainted. Of course I would love to see the reviewer in question be possessed by a spirit against their will and not have a physical reaction after forcing the damn thing out.
To me writing gay fiction is not so much about the sexual orientation of the characters, but rather about their humanity. My characters are like my children. I’m protective of them and of my right to create them. Many of those characters have taken on aspects of people I’ve known in my life; some gay, some bi-sexual, and others straight. I write men loving men because I believe all people have the right to love who ever the hell they chose to love no matter the plumbing down under. Sure, I think two men together is hot–I won’t lie–but that’s only part of the equation.
Isn’t telling me I can’t possibly understand a sexual and emotional relationship between two men another way of alienating a fellow human being. Yes, my stories are erotic at times, but in the end I’m writing stories about fellow human beings seeking love, acceptance, and happiness in an all too imperfect world. We all have our crosses to bear and in the end it matters not who we are, but the path we chose to get there. It is the human soul not the shell it wears that counts beyond all else.
I’m a straight woman who writes gay fiction and if that’s wrong I don’t want to be right.