Thursday, October 11, 2012

National Coming Out Day: Or Confessions of a Queer Butch Who Writes M/M Romance

So I am a female-bodied masculine of center person who generally goes by labels like "queer" and "butch" within the LGBTQ community and just "gay" to my coworkers and mom's friends. Throughout my adult life I've dated people who identify as women and gay women at that.

Yet I write predominantly m/m romance.

I struggle a lot with this because I know I'm not the only queer person or gay woman to write m/m romance yet the overwhelming view of the genre is that it is completely straight women with a few gay men. I mean that makes sense, why would hot and heavy sex scenes which rely heavily on the appreciation of the male form be written by lesbians? Especially the way western society constructs what it means to be a lesbian.

I know for me the answer to that questions is simple: there is a big difference between my sexual fantasy and my lived reality. Lots of things I enjoy reading, writing and fantasizing about do not and should not have a place in my real life. Take my ongoing and deep-abiding love of tentacles and tentacle sex for instance, never going to happen, never want it happen, but boy do I love reading and writing about it.

So for me the question of why I write m/m romance and erotica is not as troubling as why I don't write more lesbain romance and erotica. For me as well there is a lot of guilt, good lesbian romance and erotica is in the vast minority as compared with its male-centered counterparts and if I am going to have a stake in writing anything it should be that. Or at least that's how I feel more often than not. The truth is that while I do write lesbian romance, I write much, much more m/m romance.

There is also a fear in the back of my mind that I write about men more than women because of my own internalized misogyny that tells me that writing about men is better than writing about women. I have no good answer or way to assuage that fear.

Then again I think that there is also a part of me which is too close to the queer female experience and community. Whenever I sit down to write a lesbian romance I am always caught up in the flood of queer politics: what it means to represent X character this way instead of that way, or making sure my femme characters act like Y and not X so I don't support Z view of what it means to be femme. That's not good story telling, that's in-group political thinking. On the other hand this is a group I've been intimately a part of since I first came out to myself in my late teens. I'm not as familiar with what it means to be a gay man. In some ways I think that actually helps and makes me feel freer to just write the just story and not the politics.

I think also the female form, especially in sexual situations, is more scrutinized and I am aware of that. There is so much literature and debate on how to represent a woman sexually in a positive way or if that is even possible. Which leaves me with an entire folder on my computer of lesbian WIPs where the politics literally swallowed the storyline.

None of these issues help sooth the guilt I feel for not writing more lesbian romance, and none of them make the cultural misogyny theory any less likely. These issues are definitely what comes to mind though as I turned over the question of why would a queer woman write more m/m romance than lesbian romance? I just wish I could be the kind of writer who shrugs and says "I write about gay/bi/pan men because that's who my characters are" and is okay with that answer. 

Either way I am a queer butch writer who writes m/m and lesbian romance and most of the time I'm okay with that. 

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