The past 6 – 12 months of witnessing as well as being personally involved in shit storm after shit storm has really made me wonder about this so-called m/m community of ours.
I wonder if we cling to this notion of being a close-knit community. Remember those times when it was us against them – them being the mainstream romance genre?
I wonder if we’ve become overly comfortable in the niches we’ve created for ourselves. Remember what it was like to be the expert – the one who was approached by newbies? Who was listened to and respected without question?
I wonder if we’ve become too complacent. Remember when reading this genre made us automatically knowledgeable and supportive of the whole alphabet of GLBTQQ people?
I wonder if we ever really were a safe community, a space where all people could freely be themselves. Remember when we all sat around our monitors squirming in titillation at the thought of two men *whispers* having sex?
And I wonder if there are any others who, when they began to see these rosy assumptions for what they were and those cardboard pedestals collapsing, have become as disillusioned as I am about the m/m community?
It’s been the way in which the word ‘community’ has been flung around – in some cases slapped across the face of the ‘other’ in the internet version of challenge to protect one’s honour – that has really got me thinking.
Because we aren’t really, are we? We aren’t a ‘community’.
Sure we may be a bunch of people who come together because of a shared love for m/m romance and gay fiction, but that doesn’t make us one entity, one whole, one community.
The fact of the matter is we are way more complex than that.
We are communities.
With the exploding popularity of the genre (and the sub-genres), the numbers of readers, authors and publishers has increased dramatically. As have the many groups that have come to be in/formally established due common interests in and around the genre and its varied themes.
Whether you view this as a good or a bad thing is entirely up to you. What we should all remember however, is that societies grow and develop, and they change.
Neither communities nor individuals remain static.
People can become more conservative in the face of uncertainty, they can sigh nostalgically and ramble about the ‘good, old days’, they can build up barriers and avoid what is happening, or they can grow and learn.
It is the latter which creates possibilities, not the bubble-wrap approach.
Let’s face it, there’s no such thing as The Perfect Utopian Society, and the m/m community as it once supposedly was doesn’t – if it ever really did – exist.
We can sit in small circles crying about the terrifying divisiveness of disagreements, or we can see differences of opinion as an opportunity for all communities to have open and civil discussions and become more aware and tolerant.
Besides, I don’t know about you lot, but I’m not so easily ‘fit’ into just that one m/m squared-shaped whole. I tend to drift vaguely from one place to another, staying longer when my inherent nosiness demands it.
Plus, I’d start to think I was going even crazier if a whole bunch of mini-mes started popping up everywhere.
Not to mention bored shitless.
Not to mention bored shitless.