“What does writing GLBTQ literature mean to me?”

The Follow the Rainbow Blog Hop was a good bit of fun, and is now over.  Many thanks to all the readers who hopped and left thoughtful comments, and Congratulations! to madisonparklove, the Winner of the $20 Amazon gift card.  If you missed the Blog Hop, I hope you will still enjoy learning a little about what I write and why I write it, and maybe start a Big Gay Bookshelf of your very own.  Welcome.

I’ve known I was gay my entire life.  Since way before I had the words to describe it, I knew I was “different,” and I knew it was OK.  But growing up in America is a funny process; all along our educational road, we have two things drilled into our heads with equal fervor.  1. You are an individual.  You are special.  There is no one else like you, and you can grow up to be whatever in the world you want to be.  And 2.  As long as you march straight down this incredibly narrow path of heteronormative behavior to your wedding day, your children, and an eventual gray-haired retirement that you will have no way to pay for.  For a society that stresses individuality and exceptionalism from Sesame Street, we judge our members against a very rigid criteria and forgive few missteps.  So yeah, even though the Universe and I had reached an understanding early on, coming out in Cow Town, Colorado during college was something of a process.  I was surrounded by cowboys, many of them large (and delicious, which isn’t the point), and it was unclear if the Universe had let them in on our little arrangement.  Now, as you know and I know, the real key to Coming Out is to reach the understanding that it doesn’t matter whether those cowboys are in on the deal or not; it has nothing to do with them.  Well, at least not with the ones that don’t fool around at frat parties.  I would have reached that understanding eventually, of course, but the GLBTQ fiction from which I was unable to tear myself away in those days cleared the path.  A gay guy’s life was peppered with glitz.  Or with mystery and intrigue.  Or with hilarity and madcap hijinks, depending on the particular book I was reading.  Few of the books I chose related specifically to coming out or to any drama around it.  The guys in these stories just were gay.  They didn’t have angst around it, they weren’t looking for anyone’s permission or approval, they just ran around solving mysteries or planning elaborate sham weddings to fleece wealthy relatives out of gifts, kissing boys and cavorting with straight-gal sidekicks, quoting show tunes and quaffing Veuve Clicquot and generally getting on with the business of being gay.  But the deluge of gay stories about gay characters written by gay guys did more than just make being gay look like a whole lot of fun.  Gay fiction was my window onto a larger world than the one I inhabited, and the gay writers I read in my teens and twenties showed me that I could indeed live my life, and eventually tell my own stories, my way.  They helped me realize that coming out — that living my life openly and honestly, for better or for worse (come what may, all that) — was the only possible life I’d even be able to consider.

My Big Gay Bookshelf (detail)
Joe Keenan’s Blue Heaven and Grant Michaels’ Stan Kraychik mysteries made gay reading fun!

The best thing about writing gay fiction is wielding this power.  OK, maybe the very best thing about writing gay fiction is getting to ramble on for pages about the shape and sandy flavor of a sun-kissed surfer’s belly button, but the power is right up there.  Not the heady power of Life or Death that we have over our characters, or even the power to make the biggest-butt-havingest of all of our college cowboy crushes get down on one knee and propose to a fictionalized version of ourselves (as fun as that one is), but rather the power to speak up for ourselves.  To relate to the world on our terms.  To deny those who wish us vociferous ill — religious conservatives, closet-case gay bashers, pandering politicians — the opportunity to control the narrative around the Gay Experience.  If I tell my stories — the sexy ones; the funny ones; even the shitty, lonely, bullying ones — then no one else gets to.  Nobody who fears me or hates me or seeks to cash in on fear and hate gets to stand up and say (at least not effectively), Being Gay is Like This.  Gay People Think This or Seek To Undermine That.  Unchallenged, generalizations, lies, and paranoid accusations can pass for How It Is.  If gay writers (or gay teenagers or gay Olympians or gay parents) kept quiet and stayed politely in their tastefully appointed closets, then the world could very well perceive us as the dangerous, sadsack whack jobs we are so often promoted as.  But if we stand up and say, This is Me, and This is My Story, the power is sucked from generalizations and accusations as if out an open airplane door at 35,000 feet, and you have to deal with me head on.  Yeah, with my sexuality.  And with my sense of humor, my worldview, and my passion for flip flops, fat boys, and pineapple on pizza.  I may not be the Just Like You! non-threatening gay guy in a chambray shirt that the Human Rights Campaign wants you to think I am, but nor am I a danger to your children or to the sanctity of your (third) marriage.  I’m just a guy with a laptop who sometimes sees an ass so perfect or eats a churro so tasty (or vice-versa) that he thinks you’d surely want to know all about it.

A friend of mine recently asked me what I hope to say with my writing.  Boiled down, my objective can be declared in one sentence:  “Embrace your awesomeness.”  That will mean different things to different people, of course; you don’t have to be queer to be awesome (as much as it helps).  But my Mission in Life, and certainly in my writing, is absolutely to celebrate.  You’re gay?  That’s awesome!  Gay sex?  That’s super awesome!  You’re fat but you rock your body?  You can’t carry a tune in a bucket but you sing every day at the top of your voice?  You’ve never left home but you want to travel the world and wind up living in Paris with a big-nosed policeman?  Go get it.  I write GLBTQ fiction for tons of reasons.  It’s fun; it’s sexy; it’s exploratory, empowering, and liberating.  And I’m a big queer, so everything I write, be it a novel or a three-minute warm-up writing exercise about daffodils (which is more like thirty seconds about a daffodil — or however long it takes to type it was yellow — and then two and a half minutes about the dopey, hot, hopefully shirtless guy who gave it to me), comes from a queer perspective.  By definition, GLBTQ fiction tells the stories of imagined people, places, and events; I write it because it’s the truest thing I know how to do.

For more about my forthcoming novel, click on ‘Kiss Me, Straight.’  For more about my latest short story, click on ‘Hot Shots!’  For more about my erotica, click on ‘Who is Mike Bruno?’

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65 thoughts on ““What does writing GLBTQ literature mean to me?”

  1. I loved this post and the way your personality comes through in your writing. Kiss Me Straight is going on my to-read list.

  2. Brilliantly written. I wish I had the talent to write so eloquently about how I feel about who I am and how I choose to see the world and how the world chooses to me. Bravo, Monsieur.

  3. Love it! “Embrace your awesomeness!” After 40 that’s what my life has become and allowed me to start writing. Just wanted to stop by your blog and say hello to a fellow LGBTQ author. Good stuff!

    Stacey aka Coffey Brown

  4. thank you for participating in this blog hop as it allows me to hop around authors which I’m not familiar with! thank you for your giveaway! =) keeping my fingers crossed here as well.

    lohahmooi(@)hotmail(.)com

  5. As someone who “knew you when.” Words simply can not express the pride I feel when reading your writing. It goes so much deeper than I knew you when – it’s even though we haven’t seen each other in years our lives have sort of come full circle and we have come in to our own. I came to my LBGTQ experience much differently than you did – you say you always knew. I was too confused to ever know, so I did what I thought I was supposed to do – slept around…a lot! It wasn’t until I travelled the world in Up With People and was exposed to so many people with so many different beliefs and lifestyles that the word “gay” even entered my vocab. After coming home I worked with a woman who would become my best friend and first girlfriend and the rest as they say is history or in this case – herstory. That one relationship allowed me to be open for when my soulmate walked in to my life. 14 years later here we are. Thank you for giving voice to your stories. I am thrilled you are able to do so and thrilled I get to go along for the ride!

    • Thank you, Sheila. Funny how everybody’s story follows its own arc — I had to be super comfortable with the whole idea of “gay” before I got to start sleeping around… 😉 To soulmates. *clink*

  6. Well Kiss me Straight indeed. It’s pretty enlightening to read of your thoughts about the theme and it’s pretty awesome to know that you live your life as what you think instead of what they think.

    I hope to read more realistic but hopeful stories that maybe one day…gay is just as normal as the world could see.

    monica
    moniqee @ hotmail.com

  7. I hope LGBT literature opens people’s eyes to the range of human experience. I think m/m has made me, as a straight woman, empathize with men more…

  8. “…or to the sanctity of your (third) marriage.”

    Hehehe, love this.

    You’re also a new-to-me author, and yay! Love finding them. Now I need to find you on Goodreads.

    Erica Pike
    eripike at gmail dot com

  9. Hello!

    It is a pleasure it meet you. I enjoyed your post; it was a great read. I look forward in reading your works.

    Thanks,
    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  10. Be who you want to be – I get it and totally agree with . Everyone should be free enough to do want they want with who they want. Thanks for writing stories for us to read.

  11. You can’t carry a tune in a bucket but you sing every day at the top of your voice? That is me and I love being that way. I am who I am and I’m not planning of changing. lol Thank you for sharing your story.
    kaylyndavis1986@yahoo.com

  12. Thanks so much for participating in the hop! And for your post about embracing the awesome in life!
    OceanAkers @ aol.com

  13. Thanks for your posting and for participating in the Hop. I can sense your fun and humorous self in the post. Nice to meet authors that are new to me.

    strive4bst(At) yahoo(Dot) com

  14. Great post, I got a bit distracted on the big delicious cowboys in college and asked myself if I shouldn’t have gone there to college we had 70% girls so, uhm, yeah nothing close to cowboys*sigh* But it was very liberal

    • Priorities shift, right? In those days, easy access to cowboys was way more important to me. You can imagine my thrill when I moved to San Francisco and found the cowboy bar — best of both worlds, and a dance floor!

  15. Great post! It’s interesting how one is supposed to be individual but only if it’s done like everybody else.

    Jibriel.O AT web DOTde

  16. The guys in these stories just were gay. They didn’t have angst around it, they weren’t looking for anyone’s permission or approval, they just ran around solving mysteries or planning elaborate sham weddings to fleece wealthy relatives out of gifts, kissing boys and cavorting with straight-gal sidekicks, quoting show tunes and quaffing Veuve Clicquot and generally getting on with the business of being gay.

    This sentence made me grin from ear to ear. It’s fun and delightful with a hard kernel of truth: they were just gay.

    I would love it if someday everyone felt that way about themselves or someone they knew. Thanks for sharing this with us–very insightful!

    akasarahmadison at gmail dot com

    • It is my wish for the world, gay, straight, whoever you are, that people will find the confidence, the courage, the whatever-it-takes, to just get on with the business of being Them. Don’t worry about what I think, certainly don’t worry about what (or who) I’m doing — just get on with it.

      Thank you.

  17. Loved this post! We are quite the neurotic country aren’t we? If I could time-travel I would go back and kick some Puritan butt. You have been added to the top of my wishlist.

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