I’ve been asked several times why I, as a woman, write queer fiction. Specifically, why I write M/M fiction. Sometimes, the question is just honestly that: a question. Posed in a friendly voice, asked out of genuine curiosity, the “So, why gay men?” is easy to smile and shrug off. I particularly enjoy the “Why not gay men?” response. But sometimes, the question is more than that.
Sometimes, the question is not, “Why gay men,” but “Why do you think you have the right to write about gay men?”
That question got me thinking because there is no easy answer to that. Maybe I don’t have the right to write about gay men, but who decides that? Who decides who has the right to write about anything? Do I, as a seemingly straight white millennial woman, only have the right to write about other, seemingly straight white millennial women?
There isn’t just one reason I write M/M. It’s not a simple answer. I can say that it is not out of any desire to appropriate LGBTQ+ culture.
One reason is gay men have been marginalized in the media, literature and society for too long. It was through reading that I personally began to understand how true that was, and still is. Finding a book with a non-heterosexual or non-cisgender male lead in mainstream culture is next to impossible. If just one thing I write can help someone, somewhere, feel like they can relate to the story, that this story could be about them, don’t I have the right to write it?
But as to why M/M and not F/F? I think society is often much less forgiving of queer men then women. As a queer woman (Yes, I’m coming out of the proverbial closet, though I’m not sure where on the rainbow spectrum I identify—most days, I consider myself asexual, though there are days when I think pansexual is more accurate, and always, always, genderqueer), my identity has been questioned but rarely mocked. People have asked and I don’t always answer. There have been jokes, but I’ve been lucky. The gay men I know haven’t been so lucky.
And that is a big part of what attracts me to writing M/M fiction. I think that a person has to be courageous to willingly open that closet door and step out as their true selves, no matter who they are. Writing M/M fiction is my way of both honoring the brave men who have taken that step and stared society in the face, while also standing shoulder to shoulder with the ones who haven’t. It is only through reading many, many M/M books that I have gotten the courage to be me, and I hope that my own stories can help others feel the same.