Raythe says …
I recently ran across an author who posted a blog post, which I’m not going to link to, because even though, as you’ll see, I completely disagree with him, he’s not the first one to come to this dubious conclusion. So he’s a stand-in for this argument overall.
Full disclosure: I am a bisexual white woman who both reads and writes M/M Romance.
Should Only Gay Men Write or Read M/M Romance?
This author says a lot of outrageous and demeaning things about women, men and non-binary people who enjoy M/M Romance written by women. He claims that women who write M/M are unqualified, sexist, appropriators of gay people, who can’t write and are doing this just for the money.
He further claims that anyone other than a gay man that enjoys or is aroused by reading M/M Romance are using gay men as “vibrators”. You can see yet another reason why I’m not linking to his post as this is a mild description of it.
But let’s look at this question as if it had some merit.
Diversity in the M/M Romance world is a good thing.
First, let me say, that there is an area of opportunity in the M/M writing world for more gay male writers, and all sorts of people, to join the throng and write more books in this genre (and, honestly, most genres). The more people writing M/M will give us many types of stories and just deepen the pool for readers to find what speaks to them.
Biology does not make a great writer.
And biology certainly shouldn’t limit what types of people a writer can tell stories about. Writing is as much about knowing the psychology of people as spinning a yarn.
There’s the old adage of “write what you know” but that would be quite limiting if we took that to its full literal conclusion where, for example, I could only write about white bisexual women writers in my same town, my same age, doing what I do, etc. No one wants to read that story. It would bore you to tears. Trust me.
What that phrase really means is understand the subject and people you intend to write about as thoroughly as possible. Simpler: know your shit.
I’m sure we’ve all had that amazing moment when we are so hooked into a story where the characters seem so real to us that we can’t imagine that they don’t exist! You feel they could be your friends! That you meet them on the street! That you want to know them in real life!
I’ll bet, you’ve had that experience with a female character written by a male author or a male character written by a female author, etc. Because good writing is NOT biology. It’s psychology. Good writing is understanding people. Not just understanding your own POV.
Being aroused by or liking M/M Romances doesn’t mean gay men are being demeaned or used.
As to the idea that only gay men should enjoy or be aroused by M/M Romance … sigh. We’ve discussed on this blog (and many other people have, too) why people other than gay men like M/M Romance and find it more appealing than let’s say M/F. It’s a huge and nuanced discussion. But some overarching explanations are as follows.
Sometimes, for some people if the gender of the two parties is the same it allows the reader to get away from societal norms of how relationships are supposed to work and enjoy the story more.
Other times, it allows the readers to fall in love with both parties in the relationship rather than being relegated to one.
And there are countless other reasons.
Are there “bad” portrayals of gay men out there in the M/M Romance world? Sure! Are some of those “bad” books written by straight women? Sure! Are some of those “bad” books read by straight women? Sure!
If these were the ONLY representations of gay men in M/M Romance, the author of the blog post and purveyors of this POV might have a point that gay men were being harmed by such “bad” books. But those aren’t the only books out there.
Unlike in the past, self-publishing has ensured that anyone can now tell their story and post it for the world to read.
So the author of the blog post – who is also an author of M/M Romance BTW – can put up the stories he thinks are the best representation of gay men and maybe his readers (only his gay male readers, mind you, as he doesn’t care for or want female readers) will agree with him.
Or maybe they won’t.
But readers and writers shouldn’t be limited in the choices of what they read or write by biology. They should be able to take a spin in another person’s shoes, because that’s what allows us to understand each other and bring us closer together as human beings.
And really, isn’t that what good stories are all about?
Please let me know what you think in the comments!