I write gay romance novels.
That statement contains three concepts: I write fiction. I write romantic stories. I write gay male protagonists. It is often assumed by my readership and my heterosexual peers that the greatest “shocker” in that list is that I’m a married female in the Midwest writing gay fiction. But the sad truth is that’s merely an eyebrow-raiser, usually begging the inquisitor to ask me more about why, and how that works. In fact, the “gay” factor in my declaration of what I do for a living is a buffer. Because when I say I’m an author, everyone gets excited. When I say I write gay fiction, everyone is intrigued.
When I say that I write love stories, noses wrinkle, and disdain is rampant.
The year is 2014, and we’ve come a long way, baby, but much as Cliven Bundy can tell you all about “the negro,” the international media and everyone at peace with our two-faced, condescending patriarchal culture, those romance novels are trashy bodice rippers. The men and women who read them write them, produce them, promote them, maintain a billion-dollar industry via them—they’re all silly, and sex-crazed, and if they aren’t fat spinsters in curlers eating ice cream in the middle of too many cats, they’re definitely that type of ridiculous person at heart.
Because today when it was announced that Harlequin Enterprises, who advertise themselves as “We Are Romance,” was sold to News Corp, we didn’t receive reporting on what such an unexpected, potentially industry-changing merger would mean, or what this did to the outstanding lawsuit against Harlequin. We didn’t get gravity and insight, or attempts at insight into what this might mean—not often, not overall.