GAY, to be or not to be…

Edward Albee’s recent remarks about being labeled a “gay writer” sparked controversy within the gay community when accepting an honor from Lambda Literary. Albee told the audience, “A writer who happens to be gay or lesbian must be able to transcend self. I am not a gay writer. I am a writer who happens to be gay.”

Okay, but what if, I as a writer, who happens to be gay does not wish to “transcend” and consciously write gay fiction? Am I slighting the writing profession?

Albee’s comment got me thinking about myself and my writing. Yes, he did make a good point that just because a writer is gay/lesbian does not predestine him or her to write gay/lesbian. Look at the myriad of heterosexual women, many of whom are married with families who choose to write m/m romance novels. They write tales for other heterosexual women who enjoy reading about two (or more) men in physical romantic situations. They have transcended beyond their “straight” world to create vivid romantic adventures outside of their lifestyle and reality. Does this mean that writers who are of the gay persuasion should write “straight”?

Finally after thinking about this so hard my brain ached, I came to my own conclusion. A writer’s genre choice should be of their own choosing and their sexual preference should not dictate a particular niche. A writer composes their writing from a story that plays out in their head. That “story”, either consciously or not, occurs in a genre that is of interest to the writer. It’s quite challenging to write something outside your own comfort zone.

So, with that said, I will continue to write GLBTQ fiction. Being a member and a supporter of the gay community for most of my life, it’s my “comfort zone”. I enjoy writing about the community, one I am proud to be a part of. Someday, a story may come to me that may not be related to the GLBTQ community/lifestyle, but until the day that story floats into my head, I will write gay, not because I am gay, but because I consciously choose to do so.


Pardon me, is that my arm or your foot?

Okay, I’m nestled comfortably on the sofa, my nose buried in between the pages of my current gay romance novel. The story is moving along and I’m thoroughly engrossed in the plot when suddenly, the author tosses the characters into a steamy sex scene. Oooh, now it’s getting juicy… until one man throws his arms around the neck of the other, while he’s kneeling on the floor, in front of his standing partner. Either the standing partner is a very short person or the one on the floor has exceedingly long octupus like arms. Hold everything! Putting the book down, I mentally picture this scene in my mind, it’s humanly impossible! Continuing to read, I still have this nagging question in the back of my head. WTF was the author thinking when he/she wrote the scene in question?

Thankfully, I haven’t encountered too many of these contortionist scenes, but when they do happen, the flow of the story hits a definite road block. Put out the barracads and flashing yellow lights, traffic is slowed down to a crawl, bumper to bumper, edging my way back onto the road and back into the story. These small oversights can make a good read into a mediocre read. Had the author taken the time to evalute the characters limbs and/or positions when writing the scene, he/she may have eliminated the choppy waves and the reader would have experienced smooth sailing through the completion of the novel.

So, authors, if we can’t physically get into the positions that we describe in our writing, don’t write it. Yes, we are writing fiction, but unless the characters are contortionists or have octopus arms, let’s keep it a bit more real, our readers (and our stories) will benefit from the realism.

Million Dollar Question: Why would women write stories about gay men?

A new book, A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire, authored by computational neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam shed some light on the growing female popularity of M/M Romance novels.

Here are some of their findings:

“Women prefer stories to visual porn by a long shot. The most popular erotica for women is the romance novel. That has more punch than any other kind of erotica. The second most popular would be fan fiction. This is something that has really exploded on the Internet. These are stories written by amateurs, mostly women, about characters from pop culture, movies, books, etc. Another popluar sub genre is Slash Fiction. Stories about two male characters are very popular. But the most popular fan fiction is about Harry Potter by a wide margin, followed by Twilight.”

“There are two reasons why women prefer stories, while men prefer visuals. Both come down to fundamental differences between the male sexual brain and the female sexual brain. One of the most basic differences is that the male brain responds to any single sexual stimulus. A nice chest, two girls kissing, older women — if that’s what they’re attracted to. Any one thing will trigger arousal in a male.

Female desire requires multiple stimuli simultaneously or in quick succession. It takes more stimuli and more variety of these stimuli to trigger genuine arousal.
For a guy, the most common form of [masturbation material] is a 60-second porn clip. For a woman, it can be a 250-page novel or a 2,000-word story. That’s the way to get multiple stimuli. Stories have greater flexibility to offer a greater variety of stimuli.

In male erotica, sex appears in the first one-quarter of the story [or film]. For women, it’s halfway in. There’s more time to develop the character before sex.”

“Another fundamental difference between men and women — perhaps the most important defining difference — is that in the male brain, physical and psychological arousal are united. If a man is physically turned on, he’s mentally turned on too.

With women, physical arousal and mental arousal are separate. [Research finds that women get physically aroused sometimes even when they find the situation disgusting.] The female brain is designed to be cautious, most likely because historically the woman who slept with the first guy she met might have a harder time raising children; he might not stick around. Women are designed to be cautious and gather more information.

That’s why fan fiction is all about exploring the emotions and character of the hero. In romance novels, the heroine learns about the secret inner life of the hero. That’s especially true in slash: that’s doubling up. There are two men — two masculine, strong alpha males who reveal their tender side. The emotional process of revealing true character is what’s so appealing to women.”

The Million Dollar Question, Why would women write stories about gay men?
“For women in slash fiction, it’s the psychological cues of a man’s character, stature, passion and emotional communication — slash doubles those.”

To Read more:
Excerpts from: Mind Reading: The Researchers Who Analyzed All the Porn on the Internet
By Maia Szalavitz Thursday, May 19, 2011

Are lines being blurred between GLBT Lit & M/M Romance?

What is happening to GLBT Literature, a sub genre of literature specifically produced by or for the GLBT community, or which involves characters, plot lines or themes portraying male homosexual behavior? In recent years, new popular market driven sub genres have emerged, most notably M/M (male/male) Romance, literature written by heterosexual women for heterosexual women involving (gay/bi) man to man romance.

Being a gay man, I have read works from both genres, I personally prefer GLBT Lit over M/M Romance. Reading works written by gay male authors, I have found subtle distinctions in perspectives and so I prefer the male view. Okay, call me chauvinist, if you wish, but you can not deny the fact that a gay man has a different view of the world than a heterosexual woman. Sure a woman can imagine or has experienced her own feelings of a son or brother coming out to her, but can she truly grasp the emotions and internalization which the gay man or boy is experiencing? Can a heterosexual female author grasp the true internal struggle a gay man encounters during his first m/m sexual experience or the mental bruising resulting from gay bullying? The questions go on and on.  As a male who came out in my teens, I have encountered more life challenges than I can count, gay related challenges which heterosexual men or women do not encounter. It has made me who I am, the way I think and act. Yes, I share similar views with M/M Romance writers, but we don’t share the same experiences, we live in two different cultures. I am not saying that women shouldn’t write M/M Fiction, but what, with the insurgence of women writing “gay” will this have on the future of GLBT Literature?

This makes me wonder if the changing views of the general population of GLBT acceptance will alter GLBT Lit or will the sub genre be consumed by other genres and become only a part of the GLBT history? Will the gay author succumb to commercialism? Can GLBT Lit survive in the flood of these emerging genres created by and for females? Yes, I can not deny that the market (consumers) determine the type of literature purchased, and currently the market driven M/M Romance is in demand.

Being a GLBT writer (not yet published), I find that neither my work, nor I (being gay and male) fit into the M/M Romance genre. However, the agency representing my latest manuscript has classified and is marketing my work as “M/M Romance”, when in all actuality it is really “GLBT Lit”.

Writing Erotica or Porn?

“I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all.” -E.B. White

“You know how much I love porn!” A friend told me,  anxious to read my erotic short stories.

That got me to thinking, what is the difference between PORN and EROTIC literature? Encyclopedia Britannica defines erotic as, “literary or artistic works having an erotic theme; especially, books treating of sexual love in a sensuous or voluptuous manner. The word erotica typically applies to works in which the sexual element is regarded as part of the larger aesthetic aspect. It  is usually distinguished from pornography, which can also have literary merit but which is usually understood to have sexual arousal as its main purpose.” Unabridged defines pornography as, “obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit.”

Irving Kristol noted, “Pornography is not objectionable simply because it arouses sexual desire or lust or prurience in the mind of the reader or spectator; this is a silly Victorian notion. A great many non-pornographic works—including some parts of the Bible—excite sexual desire very successfully. What is distinctive about pornography is that, in the words of D.H. Lawrence, it attempts “to do dirt on [sex]…. [It is an] insult to a vital human relationship.” In other words, pornography differs from erotic art in that its whole purpose is to treat human beings obscenely, to deprive human beings of their specifically human dimension. That is what obscenity is all about. It is light years removed from any kind of carefree sensuality—there is no continuum between Fielding’s Tom Jones and the Marquis de Sade’s Justine. These works have quite opposite intentions.”

Should we say there is a fine line between Porn and Erotica? Gloria Steinem noted, “Pornography is about dominance. Erotica is about mutuality. Though both erotica and pornography refer to verbal or pictorial representations of sexual behavior, they are as different as a room with doors open and one with doors closed. The first might be a home, but the second could only be a prison.”

May Chen noted, “Erotica writers can tell a story. There is a definite hero or heroine. You might have a few sex scenes in there, but it’s not gratuitous.” From the above comments, the basic differences seem to be that porn skips story and character development and focuses on the sexual acts, of dominance and submission, while eliminating an actual love interest between characters. Whereas erotica develops characters into a plot leading to the development of a relationship, where sexual acts support love or attraction between the leading characters, while developing the storyline.

Andrea Dworkin sums it up best, “Erotica is simply high-class pornography; better produced, better conceived, better executed, better packaged, designed for a better class of consumer.”

Why Write GAY?


“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” ~ William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

“So, why do you write gay stories?” I was asked.

The best advice I have ever been given about writing is “write what you know”. Okay, so I’ve been an out gay male for what? Forty years now. Guess that’s probably something I know a little bit about, right?

There have been situations and encounters in my life that have prompted sparks of ideas which exploded into a full fledged story lines. Yes, there maybe a smidgen of myself in each story I write, but that is what I build a story around. I begin with something, an element from my past, and create the characters and plots from a stable starting point. Somewhere along the writing process reality blurs with fiction and a fictional story emerges.

“Why not write heterosexual stories that appeal to the general public?” was her next question.

I don’t write to “sell” a story, I write because I have a story to tell. So, my brain is not commercially wired to target my writing toward the commercial machine. Does that me a bad person? I write because I like to tell stories, entertain, teach, share ideas, etc. Okay, so I enjoy embellishing my real life existence to make myself appear more interesting. After all, the life I lead in my head is far more exciting than my boring day-to-day life. Fictional writing is a way for me to channel the imagined life which exists in my head to life. I live my imagined life on my laptop in the form of written fiction. I don’t dwell on speculating if my story might or might not sell. I focus on creating my story. I’m simply a story teller, sharing my imagination with others, in hopes they will find a shred of entertainment from my yarns.

Slash Fiction

Slash Fiction

“Writing is learning to say nothing, more cleverly every day.”
William Allingham

Slash fiction is a genre of fan fiction that focuses on the depiction of romantic or sexual relationships between fictional characters of the same sex.While the term was originally restricted to stories in which male media characters were involved in an explicit adult relationship as a primary plot element, it is now often used to refer to any fan story containing a pairing between same-sex characters, although many fans distinguish the female-focused variety as a separate genre commonly referred to as femslash. The characters are usually not engaged in such relationships in their respective fictional universes.