June 19, 2014 by Anne Tenino
Recently, the issue of why I write gay romance came up (again). I was prompted to attempt an answer (again). Here it is.
And FYI? I’m moderating comments and blocking insulting ones.
Why do I—a straight woman—write about two men falling in love? I have a list of answers longer than my arm, but mostly I’ve stopped trying to explain it. I haven’t fully figured it out myself, yet, even with the help of my therapist. However, in this post, I’ll tell you what I do know.
The people in my head who speak to me are men.
I suffer from a non-clinical neurosis peculiar to authors and screenwriters, wherein the voices aren’t trying to tell me to kill the neighbor’s cat or top that ice cream with fish fertilizer. Instead, they want to tell me their story, and they want me to tell it to others in turn (unless and until I get a PA system wired directly to my brain).
I suppose I could try to write about women—give a quick sex change to one of the characters nattering on up there—but I cannot fully express how falsely icky that feels. I’d be suppressing not only my truth, but someone else’s truth; that of the dudes in my head, who are very real to me. And very male. And sometimes, very gay (and less so other times).
If that’s not enough of an answer for you, I’m very sorry. I can offer an anecdote from my early days, when I was still trying (and largely failing) to write about heterosexual couples, that may help you to see it my way. Back then, when I told my mother about my aspirations, her response was “You could write anything, why would you want to write romance?”
At the time I think my response to her was along the lines of, “yeah, whatever.” Now my response would be “Yes, Mom. Yes I can write anything, and the thing I want to write is romance.”
Because, as I recently told another author (Ethan Stone, FWIW), I’ve got no patience left for people who think writing romance is a lesser art. I see value in it, and I love it. I also feel it’s difficult to do well, and it takes dedication and skill. I’m committed to writing it to the best of my abilities, with honesty. I’m dedicated to honoring the tradition of the genre—taking readers along for the ride when two people fall in love.
I just happen to write mine with men in it. And to everyone who thinks that’s somehow wrong, all I can offer is that it feels wrong to me to write any other way.
I’ll close with another anecdote, how about? This one is very recent—minutes ago, in fact. I asked my friend if he’d “read over my post about why I write gay romance.” I meant for typos and such, but I think his response pretty well sums up my own reasoning.
He said, “I don’t think you need a reason, so I’m not your guy.”