Reblogged from Lissa Kasey’s Blog, 6/20/14
Every so often, there’s a big hullabaloo over women writing gay romance. I can count at least a dozen instances where I’ve sat back and just scratched my head over the horrible comments and insinuations. And it makes me so incredibly sad, because most of the women I know who write gay romance do so because they love romance. Period. And they want to celebrate all colors of it. They don’t do it for the money (hell knows, writing het smut pays a lot better than writing gay romance!). They write gay fiction because they’re inspired to do so.
Men have been writing wonderful fiction about women for centuries. Amazing heroines I often dreamed of being like when I was growing up. Heroes I wished would sweep me off my feet. I grew up reading stories about men and women mostly, because there weren’t many gay romances around. I did find a few, written between the lines. Those lingered with me because first and foremost, I loved men. Any flavor of the rainbow. They are my friends, my husband, my son, my father. Gay, straight, bisexual, queer, questioning, asexual, trans, intersex. Beautiful, wonderful men who made me smile, cry, but most of all who made me love them.
About eight years ago, I discovered gay romance, a genre I didn’t even know existed. I was hooked. It wasn’t just about the guy on guy sex, although that’s definitely a turn-on. But honestly, straight sex is also a turn-on for me to read (I’m pretty much an omnivore when it comes to reading sex). It wasn’t just about the social issues that still constrain many men to this day, although my experiences living through the AIDS epidemic in New York City in the 80s and losing dear friends to the disease certainly have shaped my perspective. It wasn’t just about the strong characters (and I don’t mean this strictly in the physical sense). I’ve read strong female characters I love as well.
For years, I wracked my brains about what it was that drew me to write gay fiction over the het fiction I started out writing. What did I finally figure out? That I don’t have an “answer.” I write from my heart. I write gay fiction because that creative part of my brain, my muse, tells me their stories. And although I write primarily for my gay male readers in that I want my characters to ring true, I’m happy if women also enjoy my stories. Because it’s about writing love. Writing hope. Writing what I want to read, and hoping others will enjoy it. If it makes readers laugh, or cry, or feel something, then I’ve done my job.
As a former musician, I feel the same way about the performers I listen to. I don’t care if it’s a man or a women playing the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. If it’s beautifully played, I will love it. Writing is just like musical expression. Music is either genuine and heartfelt enough to connect with your sensibilities, or it’s not the right choice for you to listen to. I love classic jazz. Modern jazz, not so much. I love Maria Callas’s Tosca. Joan Sutherland’s? Not so much.
Don’t judge a book by the sex or sexual orientation of its author. Judge a book because it makes you feel, or fails to make you feel something. If you don’t like a story, what difference does it make if it’s written by a man or a woman? I’ve had male readers write to me and say that they hesitated to buy my books because I’m a woman and they’d never read gay fiction written by a woman before, but they gave the books a chance and connected with the characters and the story. And that’s what artistic expression is all about. Making someone else feel.
Let me end with two questions. Does it matter why a writer writes what she or he writes? Or does it matter that the writing reaches your heart? I think the latter is the question we all need to ask ourselves. -Shira