I slowly got into reading m/m books. Originally I thought that several of the authors I was reading were male. I think for the most part I was picking authors who write realistic male characters. I think of what I like to read as just part of my own particular brand of queerness. I wonder sometimes about how some women must deal with keeping their reading tastes closeted. I'm used to being closeted, of editing my conversation around straight people. It's kind of stressful, but I'll come out to people I've known for a while, if I figure they won't freak out. Most Generation X and younger people I talk with seem to get it. And it's always been easier for me to come out to men. They don't feel threatened -- or that's how I perceive it.
Now that I've read m/m fiction more widely, there are a couple of aspects of some of it that bother me. First are the books which have straight male characters suddenly becoming gay. I just don't think it works that way. I don't think I have a sexual orientation one way or the other, but my belief is that that's less often the case for men. And that's not how these books are written, either. It often seems to be that the men just switch orientations in these stories. And they feel no angst about becoming part of a stigmatized minority. Hello? In American culture, there's still a lot of ignorance and prejudice -- don't tell me a man wouldn't be aware of that.
In a couple of the books I've read, I've wondered if the author had ever met a gay man. There's just this...lack of awareness about gay culture. The characters might as well be heterosexual romance heroes -- except for them having sex with a man. I know some men fly under the gaydar -- and my gaydar is dubious at best. I just don't assume everyone is straight, and you pick up some things that way. But I think that dealing with the prejudice -- internal and external -- marks your view of the world. Some people may not feel marked by it at all. I just haven't happened to meet anyone who didn't feel it to some extent.
I like it much better when the characters are aware of gay culture and history. It generally increases my enjoyment of a book. But I like it when the characters don't conform with the dictates of gay culture. I'm all about the nonconformists. This is part of why I really like Goth characters. You're a Goth first, and then whatever sexuality second. I realize that this is very far from the gay mainstream, but you do find a lot of gay and bi Goths. I think of this as again resonating with my own particular brand of queerness. Yes, I read the bit about Goth first, sexuality secondary somewhere, but I do agree with it.
I've also read a few books where the male characters cry like babies when anything minor happens. Please. The gay men I know are pretty tough in their own ways. You really have to be, don't you? That feminine sensitivity in a male character doesn't generally ring true to me.
Circling back to the bit about my dubious gaydar -- I'd think it would be entertaining to the observer. I pick up on the people who are obvious -- yes, that's politically incorrect of me to say, I'm sure, but with some, the sexual orientation vibe is so not subtle. But I always miss with the gaydar on bi men. That's another story in itself, but it's more the lack of a feeling of sexual orientation than the presence of one. It fools me every time.
I'm so much more politically correct on this journal than I am in person. I figure I have only a limited amount of queer credibility, and it's not so good to push it. I do feel very ambivalant about those times I seem to be taking advantage of heterosexual privilege, but I don't feel the need to get into it with people all the time. That's completely not my style. I haven't yet figured out good, not-so-confrontational ways to let people know that I'm not straight. It's just not something that I feel is the business of strangers. I don't feel like it counts for me to come out online. It's not like I'll ever meet the great majority of people who interact with me online.
This was one heck of a rambling post. *laughs* I'll probably edit it down to a line or two in a couple of days.