One group feels that you should always be socially responsible to gay men when writing about their life, their lifestyle otherwise it’s just a fetishization of gay male sexuality for personal turn-on purposes. The usual lesbian porn for men analogy gets thrown in there as an example.
Another group feels that they are actually supporting gay rights by writing love stories about gay men and that it’s not the same as lesbian porn for men because it’s about lurve and is deeper. This camp feels that they are not hurting anyone, but that more awareness of gay rights comes about because of the increasing popularity of this genre; they are doing gays a big favor.
I'm not going to even discuss those who go on about how sweet m/m love is and that's why they read it because if it's sweet love you're after, then any combo would fit the bill. I think that's more of a justification for writing and reading m/m in particular over any other combo and tries to make it look less about the sex.
Then there’s a small group who feel that they wish to just write/read what they want to write/read for various reasons, but that considering social responsibility is not always the agenda for them. Some writers write it for the money. Let’s face it, it’s popular and it sells at the moment. Also, writers and readers in this group, bottom line, just get off on reading about two men together, and what’s wrong with that?
On a personal level, I have wondered, since I’ve been reading tons of f/f, whether or not I’m just fetishizing girl on girl sex for my own turn-on as a predominantly straight woman without regard to what a lesbian or bi person goes through every day due to their orientation. I don’t think I do as I do consider that kind of thing. If I felt an up-till-now straight character were being flippant and only using the lesbian/ bi character for an ulterior motive other than that they are into them particularly, then it would be offensive to me.
Yesterday on twitter, a person linked to a blogger who wrote that her favorite m/m was between two heterosexual men who just find themselves attracted to each other.
This person on twitter was all up in arms about that because this is so anti gay and so on. No, I’m not going to link any of it since I don’t want the flamers coming here. I just pointed this out because it’s something that’s come up for me during several conversations and while reading these types of discussions.
I’ll admit that quite often I give a book a higher rating if the sexual chemistry between the characters is hot to me. Because in the end, when I read a book it’s all about being entertained. And I admit that I don’t like to read love stories with a huge social/ political agenda attached to them. I just want to read about two specific characters and what things boil down to for them in their hearts together and that they get off on each other.
So this brings me to, why is it so wrong to just want to read what gets you off both emotionally and sexually if reading erotic? Being as I’m straight, of course, I can relate much better to the gay for you or the bi character. I also enjoy reading pure lesbian, but it doesn’t float my boat as much. Does that mean that I’m co-opting the best part of a f/f relationship for my pleasure without regard to what is reality for a lesbian or bi oriented person?
Even in m/f romance, the best part of an m/f romance is what’s portrayed in a story. Romance rarely goes beyond the first stages of a relationship when everything is rosy and fun. It’s why people read romance, for the entertainment value and escapism. People don’t want to read about crying babies, and mortgage payments, and bins of dirty laundry and exhausted nights of no sex, which is the reality of a real relationship.
To be honest, I think the case of co-opting f/f sex for titillation by me, a straight woman, is different than getting off on m/m sexual relationships because of the fact that as a woman, there is always a possibility of actually having a relationship with a woman. Women, straight or not, can never have a gay relationship with a man. So on that level, m/m is more fantasy than f/f, which feeds some of the argument of fetishization of gay male sexuality. I might never have had a sexual relationship with a woman, but I can put myself in those shoes and imagine it and even have it, if the opportunity would arise. If I weren’t married, I would be open to exploring a relationship with a woman. So it is a bit different.
But when it comes to reading/ writing GLBT romance, it seems that many people feel it has to go beyond the romance/ sexual chemistry. It has to be about representing or portraying the GLBT character's life in the proper, real political/ social context or it’s a fetishization of GLBT community’s sexuality.
This is definitely a complicated issue and I would hate to be a person that uses a disenfranchised group’s sexuality for my personal titillation without regard to their reality. However, as a reader of romance and erotica, my bottom line is that I want to read what gets my juices flowing and what touches me in my heart and body no matter what sexual orientation the characters are. Am I wrong for this?
Please feel free to slam me if I’m totally off here. I’m very open to hearing others’ perspectives or experience in this.