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Five M/M Genre Peeves

March 16, 2012

There are things in the gay romance/M-M romance genre that I cannot stand. Really. Things that turn me off to a story just from reading the blurb. I thought long and hard about it and decided to share the top five things that turn me off, both as a reader and an editor. Not saying they’re bad, but I am saying they put me off of stories more often than not. I doubt everyone will have the same sort of list, so keep in mind these are just my opinions, nothing more.

Gay For You
This one annoys me. It makes the assumption that bisexuality doesn’t exist, and that sexuality is a switch. One flick, you’re straight, another flick, you’re gay. No gray area, no middle ground, no room for anything but gay or straight. It rubs me really wrong as a bisexual woman married to a bisexual man.

Just because someone has, up to the point of the story, only been straight does not mean that ONE relationship with a person of the same sex makes them gay! It means they’re bisexual, even if it’s just for one guy. There’s nothing wrong with being bisexual. I’m so tired of the bisexual shaming, and I get it from all corners of the spectrum. I sat in on a GLBT panel at Necronomicon one year, and the gay man hosting it made it clear bisexuals didn’t exist, they were just greedy, confused people.

No. ‘Gay For You’ is insulting to me as a trope title, and it demeans and/or erases bisexuality completely. I don’t like it. I don’t want to read it. I don’t want to enter discussions about it. If I write a character who has, up to the point of my story, been with opposite sex individuals, and falls in love with someone of the same sex, then that character is bisexual and I won’t label it anything but.

Women
I don’t mind the annoying female friend. All people have them. I can tolerate those characters far more than I can the villainous women. Women who are simply out to ruin the gay man’s life in some way. What’s with the women hating? It happens a lot. Women are erased or painted in awful lights. I’ve been told it’s some sort of internal misogyny, but I dunno. I don’t hate myself or women. I love women, and yet, I find myself not having many of them in my M/M fiction.

I also wind up always questioning my villains. If they’re female, I wonder if someone is going to call me on it, and if I make them male, I wonder if someone’s going to complain about no women. In the end, it almost feels like I can’t win. I write women how I write them because those characters happen to be like that. Sometimes they’re the annoying best friend, sometimes they’re the ruthless bitch, sometimes they’re the mother figure.

But, in general? Yeah, I don’t like how women are used in M/M fiction. Usually, they’re a throwaway character or a bad guy, if they’re there at all, and that just needs to stop. The world has men and women, and M/M should showcase that, too.

Boys Do Cry
OMG, I am so tired of people bitching about men crying. Hello? Can we stop that? I grew up in a household where, when my brother cried, my father called him a baby. It was insulting and cruel and I don’t like hearing the same sort of mentality being translated into M/M criticism. Men don’t cry. Really? Or is it just that, like my brother and husband, men are shamed and conditioned about crying, and so many just swallow it back so they can ‘act like a man’?

I don’t like it in life, and I sure as hell don’t like it in fiction. Men should cry. And men who do cry should not be called babies, women, or ‘too feminine’. They’re human, and when something emotional or physical hurts or is too much to deal with, sometimes, crying is the only reaction. Stop telling me, through literature, that we’re still stuck in the ridiculously stupid mindset that men cannot—and should not—cry. My men cry, and when I have a son, you can bet your ass I will encourage him to express his emotions however is best for him.

Real men cry. Deal with it.

Leathermen, Twinkies, and Bears, Oh My
Yes, these are subcultures in the gay community that exist, but they are NOT the only ones. There are so many subcultures, one’s brain could fizzle out while trying to research them. If you’re going to stick a character into a gay subculture, make sure it’s the right fit and that you’re representing it to the best of your ability. Don’t just fall to the same old stereotypes. Not all gay men are going to fall into the neat categories of leather daddy, twink, or bear, so don’t force them to be.

A Same-Sex Relationship Doesn’t Mean the Sex Is Always the Same
Dear lord, does every gay man take it up the ass and every gay woman enjoy a nice fisting? No! Of course not! It drives me crazy to see characters having sex the same way over and over, from different book to different author. It’s like everyone was given the same Users Guide manual, and they’ve all been writing from that. Spice it up! Variety! From vanilla sex in bed to BDSM, stop doing the same thing over and over and over again! Just… stop it!

So, in short, those are my peeves. I’m guilty of them myself at times, but I’m trying to get better. 🙂

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2012 9:19 am

    I love gay-for-you stories, but as you say, I don’t like it if it’s presented as “I used to be straight, but now I’m gay!” Heck, I’d rather have it be “still straight except for you.” But like you, I don’t get the way bisexuality is avoided so strongly. If anything, I think bisexuality (of whatever degree) is much more common than either 100% gay or 100% straight. It’s society that tells people that isn’t okay and makes them repress or ignore it.

    Total agreement on the others. I do tend to write certain types of sex more than others (hey, everyone has their favorites), but if anything, non-penetration is more common than penetration. I’m a big fan of frottage, for one. 😉

  2. valarltd permalink
    March 16, 2012 4:24 pm

    Well crap, wordpress ate my comment.

    Gay for you has outlived its usefulness. It was fine for the 70s and 80s, but we’ve moved on.

    Women: I like women in my stories. There are women in the world, after all. And if the villainness has a motive beyond homophobia, I’m good with her. “Edward, darling, you can keep your secretary. All I want is your title. And you need my money. We’re a perfect match.”

    Tears…don’t snivel at everything, but a properly done tear can be not just awesome, but very hot. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v204/valarltd/tear.jpg (warning, het pic)

    Sex can be the same, even in real life. Especially in a committed, long-term relationship, where there are physical issues and varying the style leads to discomfort, pain or embarrassment. That said, it makes really boring reading.

  3. March 16, 2012 5:54 pm

    Shae — I like the ‘gay for you’ idea, just not the title or baggage that comes with it. I much prefer the ‘I’m straight, except for you, because something about you really does it for me’. The bisexuality angle is so underplayed in this genre that it makes me weep. Every time I see someone say that bisexual men simply don’t exist, it breaks my heart. Yes, they do!

    And, yeah, everyone has their preferences for sex, but when I pick up book after book of the same type of sex, it just gets boring. I don’t want to skim over the smexy bits! Those are supposed to be awesome, hot bits! 😀

  4. March 16, 2012 5:54 pm

    Angelia — Damn WordPress!

    I love women in my stories. Women account for half the population of the world. They need to be in the fiction we read. Be they annoying friends, loving mothers, evil bitches, they need to be there in all their wonderful forms.

    I don’t think men should snivel at every little thing, but when things like emotional angst, denial, and sexual frustration explode in a fire ball of feelings, for some men, crying is the answer. I just hate the ‘real men don’t cry’ advice so often given, and the ‘real mean don’t cry, so I’m marking this book’s rating down’ used in some reviews.

    Which is another thing I hate, that ‘real men’ bullshit. Grr.

  5. April 1, 2012 2:21 pm

    I love all of these, but especially the first two. Just wanted to come and give you a fist bump for writing this. *fist bump*

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