emlynley (emlynley) wrote,

Is gay the new black?

I have been out of the publishing/promo loop for a few months and haven't been checking my flist on LJ. But I have noticed a few trends, some good, others not so good. This isn't meant to be a political posting or a soapbox lecture, only some of my observations and a few questions for readers, mainly, but writers feel free to comment.

It seems there are a lot more positive views of the LGBT community in general, in the news and pop culture. Talk of ending the US military's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy is good, though some setbacks have already occurred. The Mississippi girl who wanted to wear a tux and bring her girlfriend to the prom got prompt federal support for her civil rights, even if the prom is still canceled. Honestly, anyone who defines their senior year by an event like the prom has a lot more to worry about than what to do with that dress you already bought. More states are explicitly allowing same-sex marriage, even if my own state of California can't get it right yet.

It's getting cool to be gay.

In writing and publishing I've seen some things I'm less happy about. I know of several authors who didn't do well with m/f books go "gay for pay" and write m/m because they knew it was selling better than their work. I witnessed more than one discussion on an author group that asked questions about gay men as if they are an exhibit we can go to see in a zoo, rather than real people with feelings. One male author told me female writers continuously ask him for advice on how to write sex scenes.  When he tells them to watch gay porn, a majority ask for another suggestion. Seriously, if you can't watch a movie of guys fucking, how can you expect to write about it, and why would you want to write about it, if you can't watch it?

I've read books where the characters are not remotely realistically portrayed as either gay or male, and their relationships and romances are unbelievable. This isn't an issue soley with gay characters, but it seems to be growing in the genre. So, this leads me to ask questions, mainly of readers, though I'm curious too about where fellow writers in this genre stand.

I may not be perfect at portraying my characters, but I also work pretty hard at it, using male betas and some personal experiences. I may not be a gay man, but I am not a straight chick, either. I have always written gay erotic romance. I've never written anything het and I don't read it. 

My questions. I have anonymous commenting ON, so you can express yourself openly. I'd particularly like to hear some male opinions here, since we're writing about "you" or people you know!
  • As a reader, do you prefer books with realistic portrayals of gay characters, and do you notice when they are not realistic?
  • Do you think there is a difference between m/m and gay? If so, what is it? (This could be a whole separate discussion, and it probably will be at some point.) Which do you prefer to read (or write)?
  • What do you think of writers who switch to m/m just because it's selling? Can you tell they don't know the genre very well?

I'll leave it here for now, since that's a lot of territory.
Tags: discussion, gay, publishing

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