I grew up a single child in a pretty ordinary family with a mom and a dad. It took me quite a while to figure out I wasn’t raised like other children my age, though.
At my house it wasn’t a big deal to have a lesbian couple at the dinner table, or a gay couple over for drinks. My mother made it so much ‘not a big deal’ that it never struck me as strange until a friend of mine was invited to a dinner party with those friends of my parents and she told me those had been the first LGBTQ people she’d met. I was a senior in high school at the time.
In college that same friend came out to me by telling me she’d told her mother she had a girlfriend and was promptly shown the door. I was outraged. What mother would do that to her only daughter? When I told my mother, she assured me she’d never throw me out if I brought a girlfriend home. That was the first of many times my mother tried to figure out if I was a lesbian.
I can’t blame her. Many people, strangers and friends, have wondered the same thing. Some were rather forward about it (and bless them for being so!) and others only said something years after making my acquaintance, and only because the evidence became too hard to miss (for them). I’ve had to disappoint all of them. I’ve actually had to come out as straight to at least half the people I call my friends (and all of my family).
I’ve always had an aversion to the labels, though. Again, it took me a long time to figure out why. It’s only in recent years I’ve realized that the reason for this is that I don’t really fit. Yes, technically I’m straight. I identify as a woman (sometimes rather vocally, especially when someone hears/reads my RL name and thinks I’m a guy) and although I’ve dabbled, I don’t really fall in love with women. The few times I’ve lost my heart – really, truly fell in love – it was with a man. And he was always gay.
So what do you call a woman whose sexual preference (yes, I also hate this word) is gay men? Apparently, I’m a girlfag…(more cringing from me)
I prefer to label myself as Queer, if I absolutely need to. And I love that the acronym QUILTBAG(Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Trans, Bisexual, Asexual, Gay) puts us first and not last. I’m probably not what the people who created the label had in mind, but I don’t care.
I probably have more gay than straight friends and among them, I feel accepted and understood. They don’t judge, and most of them probably think I’m a lesbian, but I’ve never had to ‘come out’ to them. It came up in conversation with one woman (one of my female friend’s girlfriend, whom I’d just met) and when I told her I was into men, she replied: “I don’t care!” and laughed.
The only drawback is that I need to find myself a gay-acting straight man and I can attest to the fact they are rarer than four-leaf clovers!
Which brings us to my writing.
I’ve always written, in one form or another, and when I decided to write romance, it never occurred to me to write het romance. I just like the look – and the idea – of two men together.
Add to that my inflated sense of righteousness and the fact I feel that more people should be raised like me, and not feel that there’s something even remotely wrong with a man loving another man (or a woman loving another woman) and you end up writing m/m romance.
A small part of me hopes that with every book I write, I can make at least one person say: “Hey, this makes sense. These guys belong together. I can see the love they share and it’s nothing special. It’s just love. ”
Of course love is special. Finding this person you feel comfortable with and want to spend the rest of your life with, will always be special. But I also know enough long-term, gay couples to know that they are just like all the straight couples I know. And I want to write about them and make other people understand this too. (no guys, I’ll never write about YOU!)
So why do you read/write LGBTQ romance? Inquiring minds want to know!
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