As most of you are well aware of, I write GLBT romance with elements of humor and suspense, and do so with pride and confidence. My concentration lies among the premises of M/M and f2M stories, though I have been known to weave a few bi and F/F tales as well. With that being said, there is nothing in the world I love more than writing in my preferred genre.
There isn’t much I would change within the writing world of GLBT itself. A damn good book is a damn good book, regardless of who, what, when, or why it was written. But, not everyone holds with that philosophy. Especially the judgmental and the bigoted.
Instead of finding five things I wish more of in GLBT romance, I find myself focused on the five things I wish reflected on GLBT in all its different genres.
In other words, I wish all the editors, writers, publishers, booksellers, contests throwers, literature award givers and anyone else related to the book industry would get an attitude adjustment and stop treating the GLBT (on the whole) like a redheaded step-child. These so called professionals need to buck-up and get a healthy dose of diversified reality.
We are here.
Some writers are NOT queer.
The closets are empty or at least organized.
Our stories are ready to be put on the shelves in public libraries, mall bookstores and in the homes of readers.
Yes, that means not every damn GLBT fictional story (romantic or not) is gonna be classified as erotica. We have queer young adults, children who live with transgendered parents and great homosexual historical figures no matter how much society has tried to change the fact.
Before I go off on a different tangent, here are my top 5 things I wish GLBT romance (and GLBT writing on the whole) had more of.
1. The recognition it deserves:
With the onslaught of e-publishing, books once considered too risky to be caught purchasing at the local GLBT bookstore or the nearest Barnes and Nobles can now be discreetly ordered as an e-book and read by a plethora of electronic gadgets.
With that being said, the doors have opened wide, introducing straight readers and closeted queers to some prime GLBT fiction. These stories are using major gay characters anyone can identify/sympathize with in a variety of plots rivaling anything remotely heterosexual.
So, why is it so damn hard to find mortar bookstores who will actually have more than a shelf of nothing but non-fiction gender studies that are such dry reading you need eye drops? Why do sales managers (or print publishers at conventions) snicker behind your back when you walk away after requesting them to ‘beef up’ the GLBT fiction section? Why are NYC old school boys not taking GLBT fiction seriously? Why isn’t there more exposure in magazines such as Romantic Times? Why aren’t there more agents getting the word out there that they handle GLBT fiction?
GLBT fiction has come a long way. It is powerful, strong and here to stay. Get with the program, people.
2. More honest ‘stereotypes:
Yes. You read that right. All this ‘political correct’ crap has this writer’s balls in a vice. And I don’t like it.
It is a fact of life. There are fags. There are fairies. There are limp-wristed and lisping flamers, as well as all the images one associates with the butch-dykes, femmies, leather daddies, Teddy Bears, Cubs, Twinks, and a multitude of other stereotypes. Just as there are the same who profess to be these labels, yet look like Mr. Wall Street or Ms. Universe.
The thing is, we all need to grow up here. Remember sticks and stones will break one’s bones, but names will never hurt you? Yeah, names hurt, but I wear big boy pants now. I would rather be called a fag lover than to get queer bashed outside the football stadium because I don’t meet the status quo of the politically correct image of a GLBT person.
Stereotypes will never go away, because they are a part of real life. It is up to us, as writers, to help show the diversity of these people - and how can we if we get nailed every time we pen a typical stereotype? I mean, it’s crazy. They exist whether or not they are written or talked about. Lighten up, people!
3. A diversity of employment opportunities among the characters:
Okay, I don’t know about you, but with my taste of reality in the world, not only is there a multicultural exchange, but the employment opportunities for GLBT folks are unlimited. Unfortunately, in GLBT fiction it seems to be stuck in the same circles. Lawyers. Doctors. Police. Cowboys. Military. Porn stars. Rent Boys.
Hmmm. Nice. However, what about the mailman? The oil change guy? The clerk at 7-11? The librarian? The Geek Squad? The janitor? The sales rep? The Department of Motor Vehicles employee? The waitress down at Granny’s home cooking? As a matter of fact, what about Granny herself?
I know, someone will post and say, “Well, I just read a story about a queer video store clerk last week, so phffft on you.” Okay. That’s one ringie-dingie. But, in the overall range of GLBT fiction, you have to admit the majority of the stories center around the same boring careers.
Let’s allow some alternative career opportunities for our GLBT characters, shall we? Consider it personal growth and job security in these economically, depressing times.
4. A visable presence in the public libraries:
I guess this beef could go along with the complaint of the lack of GLBT fiction in brick and mortar stores. Yet, I do feel this is on a different playing field. The lack of GLBT fiction in our public libraries.
Get this. I recently go into a small town library. It’s nice, in a well kept building, up-to-date computer system, many new books, community rooms, money for summer reading programs, etc. I check out the GLBT non-fiction. One book. There is nothing for GLBT fiction.
I speak to the director of the library. I offered to donate $3,000 to the library to start a GLBT fiction section. I even promise to supply them with a list of the top 50 GLBT best selling fiction as a starting point. She said no - they couldn’t accept a donation like that because any and all money would be put in an account and dispersed among the regularly needed programs in the library.
Not to be undermined, I offered to take that same $3,000 and BUY the GLBT fiction books myself, then donate the collection to the library just so they could have some works for the GLBT community in and out of the closet.
Do you know what she said?
They would gladly take the books, and turn around to sell them for a dollar at the ‘friends of the library’ book sale - so they can use the money to get what the public ‘really wants.’
I can’t see, how a library, which is funded by the state and the government, can operate with a clear prejudice towards the GLBT community and get away with it. If this were the African-American studies, or the Christianity section, they would not take this lying down. A ruckus would be heard for sure!
Yet, our libraries, here in the USA are getting away with legalized GLBT banishment, in the name of 'budgeting programs. Once again some super GLBT fiction of all genres is being tossed aside, and great GLBT authors go unrecognized.
5. More opportunities for contests:
LISTEN UP ~ RWA and other contest officials! GLBT romances (or other fictional works) do NOT have to be erotic! STOP lumping us under this heading. If you want to categorize us, place us under GLBT and go onward.
I am so tired of reading through the contest rules and regulations, sending in my masterworks only to find I’ve been disqualified because it was a GLBT story. “BUT, it wasn’t erotic.” No matter. If it has two of the same sex hugging and kissing or even batting eyes at each other, it is lumped as erotic.
The erotic contest folks will look at a ‘sweet’ or plain vanilla, fade-to-dark bedroom door closed scene - and laugh their butts off.
And if you are a straight person writing GLBT fiction, Lambda will totally dismiss you as an annoying fruit fly.
It’s a no win situation.
I would like to suggest, in all fairness, those associated with the Lambda (the organization who recognizes gay writers and gay publishing) after all the years they allowed straight people to receive awards only to pull that plug out two years ago, stating "Our award celebrates GLBT people, not writing" perhaps this backwards way of thinking is walking a tight rope named reverse prejudice? Maybe they should think about adding a catagory that looks at the writing of the book and not what the author does in bed?
And what about the people who run story contests make it CLEAR if they will accept GLBT/alternative lifestyle stories. In this day and age, it is ridiculous to find out your story has been rejected because someone is too prudish to admit GLBT fiction (romantic and otherwise) does exists and, no matter how much one tries to ignore it, it will not go away. Just like me.