Why do I write the type of stories I do?
I like to consider the books I write a cross between inspiration and reality. My books tend to be more sensible than the typical romantic tale. While I’ve been pegged a writer of gay romance (mm romance or man-on-man romance), I don’t usually subscribe to the formula used in the more popular works in this category.
I originally intended the title of this article to not include the parentheses around gay fiction—thus Why I Write Gay Fiction. But, the more I thought about it I realized the genre isn’t so important; it’s the content that matters. Yes, I’m gay. So a lot of what I write is just me being open about a life familiar to me.
I like to write about characters who you could actually know. Perhaps they’re in the cubicle next to you at the office, or make your coffee at Starbucks. Are my stories escapism? Not quite. Happily ever after? Only if it’s justified. Gorgeous characters? Like life, some are attractive and some are not.
Tim on Broadway, for instance, is about an overweight guy crazy about theater. Not exactly romantic fodder, but he’s real. Obese people want love too. I like to write about characters, places and situations that my readers can relate to. Even if you’re fit, trim and beautiful, you’ll be able to relate to Timothy Benton’s flaws. No one is perfect.
So, why do I write gay fiction? As I stated, it’s partly because I am gay. But I also feel strongly about portraying LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) characters who are real, and exposing them (no pun intended) for others to understand.
Most of my readers aren’t LGBT. I take that as a huge compliment.
I believe books involving gay characters need to be more mainstream. How many bestsellers have you seen primarily involving an LGBT life? I believe the more realistic our lives are portrayed, the more likely the acceptance. We’re really not all that different after all.
While the tolerance of homosexuality has made substantial advancements—particularly over the last few years—there are still children afraid of being themselves because there’s a genuine fear of their family disowning them, or that they’ll be bullied. There are still men and women marrying the opposite sex, despite them knowing they’re attracted to the same sex, because they think it’s the “right” thing to do. It never works and its ultimate destruction ruins the lives of many in its wake. You can only fake it for so long. As the slogan says, “Love always wins.”
Another reason I write—and also basis for the parentheses in this post—is that I believe all people have the ability to make profound changes in their lives, in ways they hadn’t realized they could. I like to incorporate that ability to transform your life into my writing.
In Tim on Broadway, Tim struggles with his relationship to God and Catholicism. We learn this is partially because of his homosexuality, but also because of a traumatic event that unfolds throughout the course of the story. As one reviewer said, Tim on Broadway is less a romance and more “a romantic tale of someone’s self-discovery.” Tim learns how to be himself and in that process flourishes.
Like you, I do what I do for a variety of reasons. If I can inspire just one person to make a positive change, I’ve done my job. If I can help someone accept an LGBT person for who they are, then I’m fulfilled.
7 thoughts on “Why I Write (Gay Fiction)”
This was good reading. I like the notion writer who are gay and/or write gay-themed material are not limited in sales and interests to gay people.
Thank you, Spo.
Well said. Your writing helps our community by giving non-LGBT readers a window through which to view the LGBT world positively (both because of the content of your stories and by the recognition of the talent and creativity that’s a hallmark of our particular world).
Thank you so much. What a nice compliment.
Sometimes I like to share a book I’m reading with straight friends. Just so they can see gay authors are pretty awesome writers too. The fact that TOB was just a wholesome good read made me want to share it.
I quit smoking three years ago and have been gaining weight since. Tim helped me see it’s OK. I’m at a constant struggle to keep my weight in check and so far doing pretty much OK.
TOB is a great book Rick. You should be very proud.
Dan – thanks so much! If you share TOB with your straight friends send them my way for comments. As always, appreciate your support.
As a straight woman, but married to a bi-guy, and with several LGBT friends, I love the diversity of the characters in m/m type novels. Too many romance type books only feature characters who are beautiful, or rich or fit etc, most of us are ordinary, scraping a living to get by, and sometimes struggling with other aspects of our lives. It is really heart-warming to read about people you can imagine living in your street, or meeting in the pub or on the bus, ordinary folk who could be me or you.