Dreamspinner Press, Lissa Kasey

Guest Post: Who Are We Really Writing About and For by Lissa Kasey

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Lissa KaseyTwo weeks ago I saw a link on Facebook to a poll about M/M romance. I clicked it because I read and write the topic, so why not answer the poll? Only it wasn’t really a poll. It was a question. A pretty basic question: What do you want to see more of in M/M romance? What do you want to see less of?

First reply to this from a self-confessed gay man was that he wanted to see less “chicks with dicks” in the genre. Sigh. It’s a comment that has been uttered a million times and never ceases to make me angry. I’m going to call it out for what it is. Homophobia within the gay community. Yes, that’s right. If you feel like men who have some “feminine” traits are an insult to the community, then you are no better than the hate groups. I’ve even heard some authors speak of how this genre has been corrupted by all these feminine men…

I’ve met hundreds of gay men (and women) in my life. Most are more “feminine” than me. Now that’s not saying much ’cause I’m the least feminine woman I know. I’m also asexual, which I think gives me a different view on the whole genre. The sex between two guys thing doesn’t fascinate me as it does a lot of straight women. In fact, within this genre it has gotten really old. How many ways can butt sex be described? A blow job? A hand job? Yeah, I never understood the appeal of any of that.

See, I’m not looking for that hookup. I know a lot of readers came from erotica. They want the sex with two “stereotypical” straight men who just happened to be gay for the story. Not me. Instead, I want the dynamics of the relationship. I’m fascinated by how people just click emotionally. The physical stuff just confuses me, though I’ve had a lot of life to observe.

The men in my stories are a little more swishy, somewhat “feminine.” (I use the quotes because anyone calling someone “feminine” in this day and age is trying to insult someone and that’s just wrong. There is nothing wrong with being a woman. In fact, some of the strongest people I know are women. And being called feminine should be a trait to be admired, not scorned.) I try to represent men I’ve met throughout my life. The LGBTQA spectrum is much broader than alpha male.  Even the more “masculine” men in my stories have “feminine” traits. Like Gabe in the Dominion series who is nurturing, and Kade in Model Citizen who is looking for a relationship, not a quick fuck.

I spoke with a blogger friend this week when talking about this topic, and she said a gay friend of hers said the genre is about women fantasizing about two straight men together, not about two gay men together. I want to challenge that. I know a handful of authors who really do represent the spectrum of more than just manly men. And as a writer, I strive for that myself.

Ollie from Model Citizen is based off of model Stav Strashko in appearance, and hundreds of gay men I’ve met for personality. He’s genderfluid, demisexual, and bleeding from an emotional wound inflicted by the death of his brother. That wound is more important than how he dresses or acts. We all have our struggles. Why does identity have to be one of them? Especially in what is supposed to be our own community. I challenge the readers out there to analyze why it really is that you read the genre. Are you being supportive of real people with real struggles? Or are you just in it for the fantasy sex?

Dividers

Model CitizenBlurb: Oliver “Ollie” Petroskovic’s life as an international supermodel was heading in the right direction. He worked part-time for his brother at his detective agency—Petroskovic Haven Investigations—and had just bought his dream house. But all that changed when he found his brother dead, a victim of PTSD-induced suicide.

Almost a year later, Ollie is trying to keep his brother’s business afloat, but can’t get his PI license. Then his brother’s best friend, Kade Alme, shows up, fresh from the battlefield after a close brush with death. Kade is looking for a new life, in more ways than one, and with PI license in hand, he’s exactly what Ollie needs to keep PHI running.

When one of Ollie’s childhood friends gets in trouble, Ollie feels he has to help. Kade insists on investigating if only to keep Ollie safe. Neither realizes the danger they’re in as someone tries to tear them apart before they can find solid ground together.

Dreamspinner Press

Dividers

Lissa KaseyBio: Lissa Kasey lives in St. Paul, MN, collects Asian Ball Joint Dolls who look like her characters and has three cats that enjoy waking her up an hour before her alarm every morning and sitting on her lap to help her write. When she’s not writing about boy romance she’s reading about it.

Booklist: Model Citizen (DSP) | Hidden Gem (DSP) | Evolution (DSPP) | On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence | Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence | Inheritance (Lissa Kasey) | Reclamation (Lissa Kasey)

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15 thoughts on “Guest Post: Who Are We Really Writing About and For by Lissa Kasey

  1. Those who have been to RainbowCon or GRL in the last couple of years might remember my husband, David. His first GRL was in Atlanta, and he was super excited–and kind of nervous–about going somewhere he could finally be himself without worry. Unfortunately, one of the first things that happened in Atlanta was he happened to be walking past a group of men at the bar and overheard a conversation about “chicks with dicks” and “we’re still MEN.” And it was really disheartening to him, because it’s bad enough the outside world is so focused on how stereotypically alpha manly you are, but to hear it first thing from a community he’d expected better from was hard. (I’m not even going to get into the bi-erasure thing here).

    Anyway, I told him not to worry about it, wear his skirt whenever he felt like it, scope out the guys and don’t let a couple of close-minded people bring him down. But someone who was there without a supportive partner might have retreated into his shell and not come back out. And I think that’s a damned shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    • David is lovely and should never worry about gender boxes. It is a shame when that phrase “chicks with dicks” is tossed about because it’s a damned social construct. Sighs. And he rocks a skirt like no one’s business.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Lissa Kasey says:

      I believe we chatted for a bit there, Jordan. Though I’m pretty introverted so I really just sat at the table and occasionally smiled. I’m glad he has someone to support him! Nothing wrong with anyone wearing what they want and being comfortable with themselves. In fact I find that more appealing than any “manly men” bullshit. I’d rather be friends with someone real than all those wannabes out there. :) I hope he comes to more events.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It is a damned shame, Jordan, and clearly a stigma that exists both inside and outside of the community. Your David is a sweet and lovely man, and I’m so glad his perception of GRL wasn’t spoiled by that one incident.

    I admit to reading a few books that I’ve mentally assigned the chicks with dicks label to–not gonna be a hypocrite here (I’m the blogger friend Lissa was talking to about the whole concept of the fantasy in M/M being about two het guys having sex rather than two gay guys). But, my opinion has never been about the characters’ inherent masculinity/femininity; rather, it’s been more an opinion of the author’s voice and the way the characters think. And how awful is that? I’m assigning my own gender perceptions to the books, when the fact is behaviors and reactions and thoughts are as diverse as the people who have them.

    I could soap box all day as a straight female reader in this genre, but some of it boils down to the fact that just because we read gay romance/fiction, that’s not what it means to be a good ally to the community. Not saying that we all have to go out and march for equality or picket in front of the Supreme Court, but if we’re guilty of reading M/M Romance just because the sex is hot… that’s not allying, that’s fetishizing, and that’s just my two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lissa Kasey says:

      Totally agree, Lisa. Especially as an asexual genderfluid person who doesn’t really fit into the molds. It’s hard to find a place in the genre when it’s so focused on stereotypical prototypes of people who don’t actually exist and never really have.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Maryann says:

    I am also a straight female reader of this genre. What drew me in was the talent of the authors and the subject matter of the story. I never base my reading on characters being too “feminine”, “dominate” or “how hot the sex is”. Lately, I’ve selected books just based on the authors names because I’m familiar with their writing and I know the story would hold my interest. Two of these stories dealt with inter-racial characters from different eras and both books were very informative and held a lot of truth to them.
    My son is 40 years old and inter-racial, so I am well aware of the good and bad that goes with this. It just seems to me, no matter if your gay, bi, straight, black, white etc., there is always someone who has the need to make rude remarks. I can only say the best way to handle this is to just be who you are.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lissa Kasey says:

      Very true, Maryann. Thankfully we also have some amazing writers who are starting to broaden the horizon of this genre. I think we’ll all start to see more variety of characters race and sexuality. It’s these differences that make the world fascinating.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so tired of articles that question why women write m/m, articles by gay men informing the world it’s okay and awesome, etc -_- (not this article, the kind that provoked this post). No one ever asks these questions when it’s men writing literally anything else. It’s taken as understood that artists cross boundaries–and should cross boundaries–and when they get it wrong a million excuses are made for them. Just look at m/m. Women get snarked at for writing gay men who aren’t “really” gay, but all the shitty women portrayed in m/m over and over is just ignored or forgiven. There are so many writers (many of them gay men, in fact) I refuse to read because they’re sexist assholes.

    I write what I write because that is what clicked for me. I tried writing more mainstream fantasy and romance when I first wanted to write, but it always bombed. M/M, F/F, poly, etc – that works for me. I’m writing a demi-sexual character right now, I really want to work on asexual next, and more trans characters, now that it feels like I’m allowed to do more than strictly m/m. I really do believe that everyone deserves to be in stories, that is why I write. It’s not the sex that appeals to me (in fact I am really fucking tired of seeing reviews along the lines of ‘it was good even though there’s no sex’), but everything else. It’s supremely frustrating to work in a genre that prides itself on being open and supportive, but gets ugly and mean in a hurry when the book is not about cis gay dude fucking another cis gay dude. Ugliest fight I ever got into was with another author, who claimed that asexual stories would never sell because without the sex they’d be boring -_- Which hurts on so many levels, including personal. I’m not boring because I have no desire to fuck people.

    All that being said, I write for me first and always. It’s always been a weird, can hardly believe it bonus that other people enjoy reading my stuff. As frustrating as the genre gets, there are a lot of people who give a damn about more than sexy times, and I try to remember them on the bad days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lissa Kasey says:

      Maderr, exactly. It’s sad, but sex is still a “required” component for 99% of the books in the m/m genre. I actually have a novel I’m working on right now, the third in my Hidden Gem series, which features a threesome with one of the three being asexual. So many have asked me (nicely) about how asexuality works in a relationship. I get a lot of snide comments about how could I possibly write romance if I’m asexual. The comment “You’re not doing it right” about not enjoying the writing of sex has always been annoying to me. I love characters and all their craziness. People can love. Even asexual people. Very few of the spectrum are romantic adverse. And even those people still have friends and family. Whether a book sells or not is a big debate. But if we’re writing for more than just the paycheck that doesn’t much matter.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marilyn says:

    I must agree that the “mechanics” of gay sex don’t interest me as much as the plot and some M/M books are all about the mechanics and very little plot. I can now tend to avoid those authors and gravitate toward the ones who can thrill me with a great story. Rhys, and Jordan L. you are among them. And I can reply on The Novel Approach to steer me in the right direction with authors who are new to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lissa Kasey says:

      Marilyn, me too. Try Andrea Speed too, if you haven’t yet. And hopefully you’ll try my stuff. :) I’m always on the look out for great UF novels like the Speed Prey series. And I have a love for mystery even if I find it terribly difficult to write. :)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Maryann says:

    What happen to “imagination”!!!!! We don’t need 3 pages of mechanics on one sexual encounter and every other chapter after that.
    Build a good story, something that makes our minds work, and leave us wanting more.
    Rhys Ford, Jordan L. Hawk, A.J. Marcus, J.S. Cook and that’s only a few of the good authors that make me look forward to that next book.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m always surprised when a marginalized group of people has no problem marginalizing some other group of people. What’s wrong with differing tastes and differing ways of life? Do people not understand how closely this kind of mindset resembles the ultraConservative creepers giving pretty much everyone who’s different from them a hard time? Ugh.

    Great points, Lissa, and awesome post. :)

    Liked by 1 person

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