neyronrose (neyronrose) wrote,

relatively mainstream notice

I'd been waiting to see what happened when some mainstream gay publications and organizations "discovered" m/m fiction.  Here's an interesting one:  Again it's an article by an author who did not do the research.  I'd heard of Victoria Brownworth as a lesbian writer, and I think I've read at least a few of her essays.  (Addition/correction: Apparently I've read a few of her books, as well.)  This strikes me as someone having a kneejerk second wave feminist reaction to something she hadn't actually read much of, or had just heard about.  Someone I've seen in the middle of other flame wars was first in to agree with her and also bash in generalities.  It's quite possible that I'm having a kneejerk response to the second wave feminism aspect of it, but you know if someone knows the genre.  Elisa Rolle responded later in the thread, and she really knows what she's talking about, besides being a very sweet online person.  She came up with actual numbers, and an informed take on it.

I still think the "fetishization" argument is ridiculous.  As I've posted many times, when women fetishize gay men as much as gay men can fetishize each other, then I'll worry.  Perhaps it's getting close, at least insofar as there are a lot more teenage girl and women writers numerically than gay male writers.  Then again, there are a lot of writers of any gender who aren't fetishizing, just writing characters and their stories.  Some of them got into the argument, as well, and I started wishing that they were just judged by their writing rather than what was more their personal lives.

However, Neil Plakcy may be my secret gay boyfriend of the week for his comment.  ( for Lisabea's take on new favorite gay boyfriends)  I still have Mahu Vice by the recliner here (yes, it's overdue -- shh), and I wish I'd been able to get Mahu Men through interlibrary loan.  I may well buy it at some point.  The main series is a mystery series (*spoilers*) in which the narrator, Kimo, comes out in the first book.  Mahu Men is a series of erotica stories that didn't fit into the main series, but is about Kimo's experiences with men once he comes out.  Even in the mysteries, Kimo has a sort of "kid in a candy shop" attitude once he finally comes out.  That doesn't seem to be that uncommon.

I think it's partly Ms. Brownworth's speaking in absolutes in the original article and some posts replying to commenters that bothers me, as well.  The author is a real lesbian, and that's why she's speaking from authority.  M/M romance writers suddenly claiming to be bisexual or to have gender issues just insult "true bisexuals" and the suffering of actual transpeople, she says.  I disagree with her ability to judge what a true bisexual is.  I think bisexuals decide that for themselves.  Also, some people discover more about themselves when they write about a subject, like Pat Califia writing a book on transsexuals and then getting gender reassignment surgery a few years later.

As far as I know, my mother still thinks I identify as bisexual because "it's trendy" and to "fit in with my gay friends."  I didn't bother arguing with her about it twenty years ago.  I'm certainly not going to argue the point with her now.  Also, anyone who thinks that saying you're bisexual purely in order to fit in with gay people actually works that way has clearly never encountered some serious bitterness towards anyone who claims heterosexual privilege.  I understood the bitterness, but it's not like I was claiming privilege out of spite -- or even being conscious of it until it was pointed out to me -- and it's not that I'm not conflicted about it.

I think of me reading gay romance -- and now watching it on TV -- as just another way of me being queer, as I've also said before.  People have all kinds of reasons for liking a genre of books.  Sometimes it's that it just works for them, whether it's entertaining, or makes them think things over, or educates, or is something they can identify with.  It fascinates me how straight readers of gay romance have their own versions of going into the closet with their reading tastes, and then sometimes coming out.  They get this little bit of a parallel.  It seems in some cases to be a revelation of sorts.

I can perfectly understand why people who are stereotyped would like to present their own images of the minority group they're in.  I can understand the pressure among the group to present positive and flattering images.  I think that m/m romances in many cases paint gay men in a more flattering light than some gay men paint themselves or others.  Sometimes it's way, way more flattering, depending on the writers in question.  Ask Teddypig.  You can certainly argue about unrealistic images, but it is genre fiction, and genre fiction has certain tropes.  Also, you can tell when someone has a clue about what they're writing about, no matter their gender.

I respect that the author of this article has been in the trenches, and has done way more for the cause of gay and lesbian rights than I would ever do a tiny fraction of.  However, she just didn't do the research on this piece.  I started out as a fangirl of several m/m romance authors before I ever corresponded with them.  Generally, it was that I liked the writing, I liked the characters, and I liked that the writers knew what they were talking about.
Tags: glbt -- and straight, rambling, reading

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