I read a Kris 'n' Good Books post (http://krisngoodbooks.blogspot.com/2012/04/maybe-its-me-but.html) and wrote a very lengthy comment. I'll put it here, too.
"Wow, I came to it from such a different direction. I'd read het romance through my teens. I was in a GLB (they've since added a T and a couple other letters) group in college. I started reading GLBT non-fiction then. I got into reading gay fiction, then learned about the Romentics, Scott & Scott, and their books. The books are described as having Harlequin-like plots and gay heroes. From there I got "if you liked this, you may like that..." "That" was m/m romance, and I liked it, though I kept comparing it to the real lives of my friends and being very aware of the differences.
I hadn't stopped reading GLBT non-fiction, though, and I got involved with the student group again as an alumna and volunteer. I didn't think of myself as an expert, but I thought of myself of knowing people I could ask, people who'd lived the experiences. I added reading about the I (intersex) in the alphabet.
I didn't stop reading straight romance, and didn't think of myself as being against it. I just thought of myself as reading a wide range of books. I didn't start reading fan fiction until a couple years after I started reading original m/m fiction, and much about tropes and plots became clearer to me.
I hadn't read fiction about two men having sex until after I'd heard real life stories from my friends. I was surprised to find groups online that talked about their love of the romances, but happy to join in.
I've watched readers get hit with information about real issues in the GLBT community. The thing I feel bad about is how much pain and hurt feelings have accompanied this process. Aside from that I'm glad that there's a learning process going on.So there's where I'm coming from. I've learned much more about people who don't identify as being on one end or the other of the gender binary -- who don't feel they fit in a binary at all -- in the last couple of years. I'm starting to learn about intersectionality. I feel it's important to keep educating myself, and I appreciate those folks who have taken the time to educate me."
I still feel I came to it very differently than some m/m romance readers. Perhaps it seems arrogant to consider myself already relatively well educated on GLBT rights issues before I ever started reading m/m romance, but maybe I'm just being realistic. There's a lot I've learned lately, and a lot I have yet to learn. I know there's still a large amount I need to learn about trans* and genderqueer issues.
I could contrast the differences between straight romance and real life early on. I knew of GLB rights issues for at least a decade, probably more like fifteen years, before I started reading gay romance. I wondered about the perspective women who were just reading m/m romance and not talking with gay men were getting. C.K., G.L., and J.H., among others, had given me their viewpoints many years ago. S. shares his stories with me now. I hang out on AfterElton, but I knew the issues before I came there.
It's very interesting to me to see the trans/genderqueer community and allies becoming so politicized when it comes to m/m romance. I'd be quite happy to read stories with trans* or genderqueer protagonists, as long as they're sympathetic characters. It took me a while after I heard about Stone Butch Blues to read it, because I thought it would be so depressing. There were parts that were very sad, and vicious oppression, but there were also places of hope, growth, and self-education against the odds. There's a lot I admire about butches.
It could be time to start a Trans* Education Roundtable. A Trans* Education Collective, perhaps. I don't want to erase those whose lives are directly affected by the transphobia. As Biyuti keeps reminding me, there's a great loss when trans*/genderqueer people of color are not listened to. I'm just observing from my place of privilege, but there's a lot going on in the way of learning opportunities, and I'm doing my best to learn.