Some of the stories about how people have been found out about their interest in m/m romance and erotica as well as gay pron got me thinking… always a dangerous thing, I know. 🙂
In all seriousness, it’s funny how this particular subject can feel like the biggest, tabooest secret in the world. Yet, when it’s all out in the open, the big reveal wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be. Awkward definitely, but not scary.
It made me wonder about my own reasons for feeling that I can’t be fucked explaining or, to my mind, justifying why I enjoy m/m fiction, etc.
Is it because the whole idea of a girl liking gay-themed work can be a pain in the arse to explain over and over again? Is it because people have such mixed opinions about homosexuality and it can be a minefield? Is it a bit of both or something different altogether?
For me, it’s the former. My favoured response to the raised eyebrows being the baby brother’s ‘What’s to work out? Girls and gay guys both like dick?’ A philosopher, The BB.
So, what about you? What do you think makes the whole situation so awkward? Or do you just not give a shit?
It's a good question. I'm trying to remember back to the days when I didn't even enter my first few m/m books into my LibraryThing or review them on blog. Maybe because the m/m romances tended to be SO much more explicit than what the UF/PNRs that I'd been reading…
I first started thinking about it while reading the Anita Blake series (which is extremely soft in pr0n terms). Curiosity fed it from there.
As for speaking out, I enjoy making ppl uncomfortable about subjects that are taboo!
But, for the sake of my husband, I tone it down. Not for his sensibilities but for our public image.
He does not savour the blush of the aghast social spotlight as much as I do.
And I sure do like The BB's response. Pretty boys. I like pretty things.
Does this comment even answer your question? *sigh* I have no idea where my focus has gone.
Hmmm. I like your philosophy. I'm going to adopt it. Mostly it's because MOST people believe other people like what they like. They don't understand why other's don't like the same things they do and don't really want to either most of the time. They just write it off as weird. And let's be honest, gay lit (of any type be it erotica or serious fiction) is not widely read by a 90% hetero population. So most people having not read it don't understand why you would find it interesting leading to the “great justification” speech.
Most of the time I just can't be bothered to defend myself. It's not that I care really what they think, but it's just more effort than it seems worth. Especially if it's just in passing. Someone one at work asks what you are reading and you know you are NEVER going to have book discussions with them so why spend 20 min. explaining to them why you read a rather obscure genre when they don't care and you don't care? Now if it was a friend who I foresee sharing a lot about my reading habits or I suppose your spouse who you talk to on a daily basis, of course, take the time to make your point, but for me I'm basically just too damn lazy to explain it to people. So I'll usually find ways to avoid it, unless you're a stranger and I don't give a damn, then I might do it just to be contrary and leave you confused.
I have to say in the last year (or more) I have not heard anyone say anything even remotely homophobic in my presence, at work or out in public so worrying that someone will freak if I said I read gay romance from that perspective doesn't even cross my mind. I guess at work we have two (I'm sure one is) gay guys and a transgender working in my section so people are very open and accepting of alternatives here.
If I were on my own in life I wouldn't give a shit (as you eloquently put it). In fact, I'd revel in being that pervy old bitch, or some such. And I'd dye my hair purple.
Unfortunately, I've got partner in life who's damn important to me, and works in a very conservative environment, so I dial way, way down. (But I do have a purple stripe in my hair!)
Wren – Whoot for the purple stripe!
Yay 🙂 I've also had blue, and pink and gold. (Not at the same time, though!)
Do ppl try to touch yours too?
No, nobody's tried to touch it. I send out a vibe, I think, that keeps people at arm's length. Alienating people is actually my superpower, as I discovered at Tam's Reads
But I do get a lot of looks and questions, most of which center around the concept of reality. As in, “Is that your real hair?”
Because purple's a natural hair color. Heh. Mutant! 😉
I frankly don't care to spend any time explaining myself to people that I'm not even close to. So at work if asked, which I hate cause really it's just plain nosy, but anyways if asked what I'm reading I'll say it's a romance, or vampire or werewolf story. Whatever the general genre is without going into the fact that it's a m/m story.
My worksite is huge, over a thousand people all told, and there are several GLBT folks working there. It wouldn't be a problem I'm just anti-social. 😀
Family wise only my parents and MIL don't know exactly what I read. Their old-fashioned Cuban mentality just wouldn't be able to handle it. Lol, they're ok that some of our family members are “that way” (their wording not mine) but why I'd want to read about it would mystify them.
I just got back from reading at a coffee shop over lunch… I was reading an extremely scorching scene on my ereader and noticed this (much) older gentleman sort of loitering with intent in my vicinity. Looked up to see what the deal was (pulling my ereader against my body because hello! scorching scene on the screen) and he started interrogating me about it.
“What is that?”
“An ebook reader.”
“AN EBOOK READER.”
“What's an ebook?”
“An electronic book…”
Chris – “Because purple's a natural hair color. Heh. Mutant!”
No, you misunderstand. They're asking if it's my real hair that's been dyed that color or if it's those “extension thingies.” When I tell them it's my real hair I get either the holy-shit-why-would-someone-do-that look or the how-cool-is-that-I-wish-I-were-brave-enough-to-do-that look.
Unless I'm misunderstanding them, and they really do think my hair is purple. Which I had never, ever considered until you came along and put that thought in my head.
You are ten kinds of bad for me.
I hear that a lot. 😉 Non-linear thinker – I'm apparently always looking at things on a tangent to most people.
Aw, an actual word for veri: retry
Hi, Kris! I'd have to agree with the others here who have pointed out that it (women reading m/m) is such a non-issue nowadays (in the minds of us readers) that it's not worth taking the time or wasting the energy to explain. Why should we explain? Who cares anyway? With exceptions being, as Tam pointed out, someone like a new friend or new relationship that you're going to invest some time into.
Hmmm, I've not 'come out' as a m/m reader to my hubby until a few months ago. So far, he's the only one who knows about my reading habits and I don't see much need to spill to my friends or family.
I read a lot of other books too (general fiction) so there's always some other book talk involved in our conversations.
And to be honest I wouldn't feel very comfortable about confessing, no. It's kind of the same thing as talking about what you did in bed with your partner last night. That's something I don't want them to make mental images off and I don't want to receive them from them either *grin*. It's too private. For me my m/m reads belong in that category. At least for now.
Did I already mention that I didn't come out to my husb about my m/m reading until I started writing it?
That I was (am) reading sci-fi and in English was weird enough for the people around me. I don't think they can handle the fact that I read m/m.
Lily, I had the same last year on my sailing holiday. I was reading Longhorns (in paper, because of the cover I considered it save to take on holiday with me) and my fellow shipmates asked what I was reading. I told them Western *grin*. Even that is a very weird genre to read for a Dutchy.
Wren: If you confessed that somewhere, I didn't read it! That's funny. How did THAT conversation go?!
To be honest I have never really gone out and told anyone that I read m/m stuff…
If they find out, they find out and with the amount I read and the different type of genres – I don't think they would actually be surprised to be honest… (I have been reading it for so long – I think it's now a non issue.)
My mom knows, the siblings knows and the girls of course…. The BFF is always at the house so the kids are open to the fact that some literature of that kind may be found on my shelves..
I will say however that I live in a liberal area, I interact with very open minded people – so I am more the type to start a petition to get Yaoi in my local library than shying away from who will find out if I read m/m stuff..
I am a constant embarassment to my kids….
and I could not care less…
Chris: Your blog readership/followers have kind of changed as well haven't they? More people who read m/m follow you too now?
Miranda: Your focus went as soon as you mentioned pretty boys. It was a tad noticeable. 😛
“He does not savour the blush of the aghast social spotlight as much as I do.”
Well, what fun is he! He's coming with you to yaoi con, isn't he? We'll have to take him out to Castro with us. *g*
Tam: “Mostly it's because MOST people believe other people like what they like. They don't understand why other's don't like the same things they do and don't really want to either most of the time. They just write it off as weird.”
That's very true. Slight tangent. I remember when friends found out that I read romance years ago their first response was always 'you don't seem the type'. I later realised that it they were projecting their own reading tastes on me. It's certainly led for some interesting debates over the years. As you say Tam, you take the time to explain/discuss with the people who you actually have or want to have relationships with.
Yes, it's a fascinating mixture of knitters, cat lovers, and m/m readers…
Wren: “Unfortunately, I've got partner in life who's damn important to me, and works in a very conservative environment, so I dial way, way down.”
I think that's fair enough. It's a similar situation to those who are unable to be as open about the fact that they write m/m because of the impact that it might have on their EDJs.
“Did I already mention that I didn't come out to my husb about my m/m reading until I started writing it?”
No. Do go on. I'm as curious as Chris.
Lily: “I frankly don't care to spend any time explaining myself to people that I'm not even close to.”
Word. Then again, hypothetically speaking, it may be interesting and fun to have arguments with complete strangers about your reading habits. Or so I'd imagine… *GRIN*
Val: “Why should we explain? Who cares anyway? With exceptions being, as Tam pointed out, someone like a new friend or new relationship that you're going to invest some time into.”
Yes. It's interesting, though, how we all have similar opinions on the matter. Makes me think that's it's partly because we've all 'been there, done that' with our romance reading more generally, and partly because like-minds tend to gravitate to each other and all that. 🙂
Janna: “And to be honest I wouldn't feel very comfortable about confessing, no… It's too private. For me my m/m reads belong in that category. At least for now.”
I'm wondering if you feel that way because you're at the early stages of exploring the genre, Janna? I'm pretty sure that initially I was in an awkward 'it's none of their damned business what I'm reading' mode before I decided to say 'you know what, fuck it, I'm reading gay romance'. It will be interesting to see if you will go through the same phrase albeit with a lot less swearing. LOL.
Ingrid: You would have been in deep trouble if someone on board the boat was also a fan of westerns and asked to read the book after you. 😀
EH: You know, I'm trying to work out whether I want to be adopted by you, EH, or want to be exactly like you when I grow up. I think I'll do both. 🙂
Chris: “Yes, it's a fascinating mixture of knitters, cat lovers, and m/m readers…”
LOL. That it is.
…with the stray er0tica writer or three thrown in for excitement!
Oh, my veri is zooke! Doesn't it sound like an exclamation I would use? Zounds! zOMG! Zooke!
Chris, it's definitely eclectic that's for sure. LOL.
'Zooke' is what Terry Pratchett's The Librarian would say if he was chatting on the interwebz.
I cant' believe any one would want to be like me – too many issues and I want to have my own way most of the time. (all the time – if truth be told)
Just the traffic through my house would drive you mad.. I sometime wonder why I live here myself….
All in all I am quite chuffed at my outlook in regards to my reading and my thinking…
I was born in a country where just the thought of you being gay, queer, homo – you would be killed..
So thanks to my Dad, I would like to think I am better for all the books he made me read growing up…
So I would never shy away from saying it like it is…
I'm going to say it's the sex aspect. It's one of those totally open secrets. We all know everyone's having sex, wanting sex, or messing with porn but that's not ever something you talk about with people.
Unless you're online or drunk with friends.
So i think the whole m/m thing relates to the sex and erotica aspects. I doubt anyone would be embarrassed to say you read gay fiction right? It's that m/m denotes liking sex which is like porn and really… no one talks about their porn preferences. It's not a big deal really but I just can't see it in casual conversation.
Could be totally wrong!
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Mmmhh… I've never said to anyone I read m/m romances, but then again I've never tried very hard to hide it. I'm sure that some of my close and not so close (but nosier) friends have gone to my facebook profile at one time or another and spotted the “I'm reading” application. Now, I don't update it very often (ok, almost never), but there are m/m books listed in there. So, hipothetically speaking, were someone to ask me about those titles, I would answer with something like “yes, gay romances, because it's like romeo and juliet only better and without the stupid death at the end” – I think I would gloss over the erotica side of it, at least at first :P. TBH though I'm a coward – I wouldn't initiate a discussion about m/m books deliberately. It's disheartening but I don't live in a very liberal environment. Of course most of my friends share at least some of my ideas/ideals, but homosexuality is still seen by way too many as an embarassement or yes, even a shame. In bigger cities, like Torino or Milano for instance, things are different but here in rural country the atmosphere is permeated by a strong, pervasive, conservative miasma. Speaking with some people I know about m/m books would be tantamount to hitting my head against a wall of concrete, repeatedly.
My family's quite open-minded, but we don't talk about sex – we joke about it (well, my brothers and I do) but please – I don't want to know anything about my brothers', let alone my parents'!, sex lives. So I don't forsee any confession about my reading's choices in the near future… unless wine or beer are involved of course, in this case all bets are off ;).
EH: If you're self-aware at all, you always see – or over see – the faults in yourself. Me, I think you're pretty damned awesome. You should trust me on this since i'm so fantabulous myself. 😉
Kassa: “I'm going to say it's the sex aspect. It's one of those totally open secrets. We all know everyone's having sex, wanting sex, or messing with porn but that's not ever something you talk about with people.”
I think it's a good point, Kassa. I always thought it was more the 'pulp fiction' notion of it or the perceived sappiness of reading romance, but I can certainly see, especially with erotica and pron, that people could be embarrassed by the 'sex' parts.
And now I feel like a teenager again. LOL.
Sara: “So I don't forsee any confession about my reading's choices in the near future… unless wine or beer are involved of course, in this case all bets are off ;).”
*snicker* I think it would be pointless trying to deny the things my family talks about, which has much to do with my baby brother and I being completely and utterly shameless in our attempts to embarrass each other and shock the parents. Did I tell you about the dinner conversation we had once about scat play? That was fascinating. *g*
Me (after talking myself into talking about it): Honey, I've decided finally to try writing a book.
Him: Wow, that's great! I know you've always loved to write. Is it about vampires? (at the time I was very into vamps and this was before I started Ice Cream)
Me: Um, yeah. There's a vampire. And a sort of elf.
Him: Sort of elf?
Me: I'm making up my own race for that one.
Me: And honey?
Me (hiding my face in his shirt): The lead characters are two men.
Me: Two men who fall in love. With each other.
Me: They're gay.
Him (with weird half-smile on his face, not sure whether to be appalled or entertained): So you've got a gay vampire and a gay elf. How'd that happen?
Me: I dunno. I've found some gay romances and I really like them. And when I started to write, I thought it was going to be a man and a woman but the characters wanted to both be men and so I went with it.
Him: You're not using me for inspiration are you?
Me: *snorting* of course not!
Him: Okay, then.
I guess that is taking it pretty well, Wren! LOL.
He does have a tendency to remind me that I'm lucky to be with him! (I remind him that he's lucky to be with me because I have the patience of a saint)
Fat chance Kris. The other book I had with me was Tigers & Devils *g*
“Him: You're not using me for inspiration are you?”
Did he have a wistful look on his face when he said that, Wren? 😉
Ingrid: It would have been fun, though. You might have been able to hook some more m/m readers with the soft m/m that T&D is. LOL.
OMG Wren. That is adorable. You guys are too cute for words.
I figure I'm at the point now that I'm in so deep if I ever decide to find a man it will be easy to weed out the idiots because they'll know right up front what my schtick is. Less stress that way, you either accept it or we don't go beyond a handshake.
“I'm wondering if you feel that way because you're at the early stages of exploring the genre, Janna? … It will be interesting to see if you will go through the same phrase albeit with a lot less swearing.”
That might very well be, Kris. Who knows how I think about this in a few months time. At first I didn't (want to) tell hubby either but that felt like cheating, lol. I don't have those feelings towards my friends, so I don't see any reason to tell them. But I have a bit of a rebellious streak in me and it might very well be that at one point I feel the urge to shock them *grin*
Oh, and I'll do the swearing in Dutch 😉
@Tam: Really? Right up front? Like: “Hi, I'm Tam and I read gay romance.”? Wow! That's brave 🙂
“Did he have a wistful look on his face when he said that, Wren?”
No actually. It was more that horrified/amused look. I interpret that to mean that he would be pleased, and worried about being pleased.
“OMG Wren. That is adorable. You guys are too cute for words.”
Thank, Tam. Sometimes we feel like our life is its own little sitcom. (Sometimes its a dungheap in a shithole, but let's not go down THAT road)
Well, not quite Janna but the blog and books and my friends on-line are such a big part of my life it would be almost impossible to hide it for long. If someone asks “what did you do last night” and I was writing a post for Wave or reading I'm not going to lie about what I wrote or what I read. So I think it would come out pretty early in the game.
Word veri: poopyria. LOL For when you can't spell diahr…diarhe … you know, that other word.
Tam: You could have business cards made up. That would save you some trouble. 😉
Janna: I'll look forward to hearing what your rebellious streak does, Janna. *g*
Wren: “I interpret that to mean that he would be pleased, and worried about being pleased.”
LOL. I can see that happening. 🙂
A very good question.
So most people having not read it don't understand why you would find it interesting leading to the “great justification” speech.
Exactly. And since I seem to spend a large majority of time justifying everything about me…I'm loathe to add something else to the list. And I worry how I will be judged. I wish I didn't 😦 …I need to work on that
Orannia: Most people worry about what others think of them to varying extents. I think it's only those who are pretty much fully comfortable with and accept themselves who aren't. I wish I was more like that too. 🙂