Can she write gay men?

This blog post has come about because of a few comments I got on my blog post last week. I said ‘Someone’s genitals don’t matter unless you’re sleeping with them,’ and I got a few comments saying, ‘It matters in m/m because there are a lot of people who think women can’t accurately write a gay man.’

I figured a blog post would be the best place to address this. I’ve heard that argument frequently in this genre and this is why it annoys me:

As a guy, I never get shit for writing anything. I’ve never heard someone say, ‘I want to read fiction written by women, because a man can’t possibly get it right.’ Men dominate most genres outside of romance, and yet nothing is said about the way men write women, as someone who is at least partly a woman, I’ve seen a lot of men mess it up. I’ve also seen a lot of men get it right. I understand there are people who feel a gay man can write the best gay men, but honestly, some of the best m/m I’ve read has been written by female authors. I’m a guy, I know how guys think. I’ve also read some real crap written by gay men as well as straight men. It depends on how you view a man. There are all types of gay men, just like there are all types of straight men. Maybe the people making these comments think differently than I do or maybe the people making these comments think men can only be one way. This is not the case.

I said in my last blog post genderqueer is a spectrum, but I want to take it one step further. GENDER IS A SPECTRUM.

There are tons of effeminate straight men, just as much as there are macho ‘manly’ gay men. This is why I really hope our society can get away from such hard and fast gender roles. People are people. Everyone of them is different. I can tell you from my own experience you can’t tell someone’s orientation by how they act. My partner is bi, 6’5 and about 215. He’s covered in tattoos, played football, and everyone thinks he’s a man’s man. Well he’s also bi. His appearance don’t scream bi. I’m also the dominant partner and I’m shorter than he is. Appearance means nothing.

I think it all comes down to the author. There are plenty of people who don’t do research and get things wrong, but that’s not just in m/m. I’ve read some really horrible BDSM books. I’m a pilot and I’ve read a book by a NYT’s bestselling author where the aviation information was all wrong. Not a little wrong, in this book she had the impression small planes fall out of the air when they lose an engine, but the don’t they glide. I wanted to claw my eye out reading it. No one objects to writers writing pilots, firefighters, magicians, or spies when they aren’t one. Women who write m/m are the only people I see getting shit for their gender. It bothers me. So I will stick to my ‘gender doesn’t matter unless you’re sleeping with the person,’ stance, because a good writer will do their research and get it right, even when it’s a woman writing gay sex.

If someone wants to read only books written by men, I won’t ever yell at them. It’s their choice to read what they want, written by who they want. I’ll say here are my books. I’m not going to bully them or rant about them, but I do think this is a really oppressive view towards women writers. Hopefully a little perspective will change this view.

Now for my big list of thing to do this week.

Keep getting my house ready to sell.

Deal with showings of my house. I’m a neat freak but it’s hard to keep your place clean 24/7

Find a place to live. This is harder than it sounds.

Pack my house. (Weeps into my coffee a little)

Finish Clouded Hell (Yes I’m really working on it)

Read more than 14.7% of Magic’s pawn a day

Current song obsession: Hozier – Someone New

Have you picked up Bad Alpha yet?

23 thoughts on “Can she write gay men?

  1. Another insightful article J.R. I agree with you. It’s inaccurate for someone to make such a blanket statement like that because not everyone writes the same way. I think a lot of people make statements like that because of something they read and just want to paint that whole gender in the same light. NOT FAIR..AT ALL.

  2. With every blog post, my respect for you grows. I couldn’t be more proud to call you my friend. And my Lobster. ❤

  3. Well, you know I’m 150THOUSAND percent behind this post! I have had this question thrown at me several times, but I think the craziest reference was in a 5 star review on my second book. The reviewer couldn’t say enough good things about it, then threw in a full paragraph on why women shouldn’t be writing in the genre. I must have read that review 10 times, trying to make sense of the premise “i loved this book” but “a woman shouldn’t have written it.” Just retelling that makes me want to bang my head against the wall.

    1. I can’t imagine how horrified you must have been. ‘You wrote this book and did a fantastic job, but…’ How is there even a but with a 5 star review?

  4. I truly appreciate your commentary on this, especially since I’m one of those women who write M/M. One of the primary responsibilities a writer has to the readers is to get the details right, and that means research. Some women writers do have a horrible habit of putting a penis on a female character and thinking, “Oh, I’m writing M/M now!” (and I get just as pissed off at that as gay men do). Some of us, however, have done our research. We know men and women react to things differently and we want to get the M/M dynamic right, which is why we talk to gay men about love, sex, and relationships. It’s not just a matter of “How does THIS feel” — it’s also, “How would you react to THIS situation?”

    1. Thank you. I completely agree. I also know not everyone would react the same, and not everyone views the world the same, but clearly this realization is beyond some people.

  5. You know how much I relate to this my friend. All of it. This issue and the gender post too. Nothing is black and white in this world, I’m pleased to be comfortably in the grey and I’m so damn happy that your particular hue of Gray has found its way into my world too!
    As a romance author, I write make and female PoVs and yes, I write m/m too. But really, all I do is write about desire, lust, love and physical gratification. Things every human being on this planet experiences in their own way. I don’t see how my gender has anything to do with my ability to take fundametal aspects of my own human experience and re-imagine them from someone else’s perspective. It just makes no sense to me.

  6. Agree completely. I’ve read wonderful m/m by women, and horrid m/m by men, and everything in between. Sadly, most humans seem to have the need to be able to put things in a box, and put a label on it, and nothing should ever mix between. And, the sad fact is that while it may not look exactly the same, there are similar issues in other genres as well, they’re just labelled differently. It just doesn’t always show, until someone waves a flag, like this blog post.

  7. Are you reading Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey? That was the first book of her’s I’d ever read. I picked it up because the cover drew me. Still one of my favorite authors and one of my favorite series ever! Enjoy it.

      1. It’s been awhile since I’ve read her, but I believe she has a number of queer characters throughout Valdemar, not just Vanyel and Tylendel. In that series is one of my favorite love scenes.

  8. Yes! Thank you! I’ve been writing M/M for going on 7 years now. And I always get that reaction. ‘You write gay male? But you’re a straight female!’ Ugh! Such nonsense! And I’ve gotten the nasty reviews too. Complaints about my guys being too weepy, too girly, not manly enough. Thing is, after you’ve done your research on everything you possibly can, you mold that into the story you’re creating. And since we humans, male and female, are such varied individuals, well, no two reactions to a situation are going to be the same. And just because you’d react one way doesn’t mean my character would act in a likewise manner. Really frustrating trying to get some people to understand this concept.

  9. I’m struck by the fact that these thoughts (comments) are coming from within the mm romance genre community (I’m assuming). It’s so contradictory. What happened to all the demands of equality? Is that only supposed to work one way? Of course it comes down to skill.

    I respect the hell out of you and appreciate that you’re willing to be so gracious in clarifying your words. But it sucks that you’d need to, especially amongst your peers, in the first place.
    You are so awesome J.R.
    Really awesome!!

  10. I was gonna say something thoughtful and shit, but then I hit “Read more than 14.7% of Magic’s pawn a day” and I’m still fucking laughing. It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking coffee at the time!

  11. Amazing the audacity people have to make such a statement. Who cares if the author is male or female? Who even knows if the name the author is using accurately depicts the gender of the author? And who cares? I care more about how the book is written, regardless of the gender of the author. I’ve read books written by people I know their gender because I know them and then there are authors that I don’t know their gender. I am more concerned about the story and its flow, not if a male or female wrote it. I don’t think it makes a difference. You are either a good writer or you aren’t. And hands down here, you are a good writer.

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