Rolling Stone magazine
Has anyone seen Rolling Stone magazine this month? They interviewed me a couple of weeks ago. I told them in no uncertain terms that I didn’t write porn, that (from what I could tell from my fan mail) more than half of my readers were gay men, that I didn’t write for straight women only and wouldn’t know how, that there were gay men and women of all sexualities in m/m romance, and that of the four authors of Running Press’ m/m romance line, I was the only straight woman. They seemed interested and surprised about this last fact, so I thought for sure that bit of information might make it into the article. I asked them to assure me that they would not put the article out under a title that suggested m/m romance was gay porn for straight women, and they said that no, of course they wouldn’t.
I haven’t seen the resulting article, so I can’t tell whether any of that got through or not, or whether I might as well have saved my breath. Despite asking if I could see the article before it went out, that never happened. I can’t subscribe to the online magazine in order to read the article because it insists I need an American address and post code. But the title of the article appears to be “Man-on-man porn for straight women” so I don’t hold out a lot of hope. Is it as bad as it sounds?
I suppose it was naive of me to think that I might actually be listened to and believed. After all, what do I know about m/m romance, right? But it makes me angry. And it makes me angry because at the same time that this is going on, I’m getting emails from men saying “I just found your book. I’m so delighted to know there is romance out there for people like me.” “I’ve wanted to read this kind of book for years. Now I’m going to go back and finish my own.” And I hug that kind of feedback to myself, because that’s what I want my writing to do. I want it to tell the world that gay men want and deserve love, that the love between two men is as holy as any other love. That gay men can be heroes too, and above all that there can and should be a happy ending for you, even if you’re gay.
Right at the moment, that’s clearly a message that’s every bit as needed as it ever was. I can’t contribute a video to the “It Gets Better” collection but I can write stories that teach people to believe that a happy ending is possible – that despair isn’t the only option, that God loves them, even if some of his followers claim otherwise. And I’m sorry, but no matter how many times we go through this argument, I cannot believe – in a world that so often tells people there’s something wrong about being gay – that it can be wrong of me to write stories that say no, the world is wrong, gay love is every bit as powerful, as romantic, as wonderful, as human and as divine as straight love and it’s worth celebrating.
The absolute last thing I want happening is for gay men to read these articles and think that my books weren’t written for them. They were. They were written for anyone, everyone, who thinks that a story about two guys falling in love with each other sounds like a good thing.
And yes, that does mean that they are also written for straight women. I happen to know from my own personal experience that slash and m/m romance can be a catalyst for straight women readers to think through their own prejudices and to go from being unsure about LGBT rights, or not to having thought about them, to being supporters of LGBT rights. Perhaps it doesn’t work that way all the time, but it works that way enough of the time to be worth doing.
So, to me, there’s a good result of m/m romance no matter who writes it, no matter who reads it. We have a genre here that is being written and read with enjoyment by gay men, straight women, bisexual men, bisexual women, lesbians, genderqueer people, transgender people, maybe even some straight men too, who knows, and I’m sick of people trying to force us all back into our pigeonholes, and disappearing the LGBTQ people in the genre in the process.
And to that end I’m angry that yet again the mainstream media appears to have chosen to ask me for my opinion only to ignore it. Why bother? Why bother asking me if you’re not going to listen? Equally, why do I bother agreeing to talk to them if they’re not going to listen? I should learn better.
But maybe I’m getting all irate for nothing, and the actual article is better than the title would have me believe. Does anyone know?