by Annie Anthony
For as long as there have been humans, there has been story. Stories are educational. They entertain. Narratives serve political, religious, and cultural purposes. Art taps into the archetypes of human experience and at the same time resonates on a specific and individual level with you, where you live, as you sit on a couch/bed/in a waiting room reading your book/eReader/smart phone.
What do I mean? Think Fabio. Romance readers, writers, publishers: where is Black Fabio? Gay Fabio? I think I’ve seen him scaling the brick and mortar walls of bookstores, “popping up” in the digital space.
Part of why I write is to share the stories that are relevant to my own life and experience, and of course I hope that my stories entertain, educate, enlighten. My own coming out process was difficult (agonizing) and protracted (took far too long.) As a publically “out” lesbian, my writing reflects the stories and issues that are meaningful to me. But does that mean I write only for my tribe?
A well-known fact in publishing is that roughly 60% of the readers of MM erotic fiction or MM romance are women. Straight/heterosexual. Married. Women. Why? I have edited MM erotica and romance. I have read in that genre more than I’ve edited, but I don’t think I am the average consumer. As I like to say, I see homosexual men and women as two sides of one gay coin. Reading about gay male experience is relevant, right? To me? A lesbian? Just because the sex doesn’t arouse me doesn’t mean I don’t relate to the humor, the tension, the conflict and oh-so-delicious resolution.
That brings me back to my original statement: story as both archetype and individual.
What do any of us really choose to read and why? Sometimes for pure distraction or sexual titillation; sometimes for education or information. Sometimes we read just to feel that basic connection to a human who has articulated our own personal feelings and thoughts better than we might be able to do ourselves. To connect.
If the fundamental purpose of reading is to satisfy hunger—be it a profound or simple need—why has popular fiction been painfully bereft of Black Fabio? Gay Fabio? Lesbian Fabio… er, Fabia?
The answer to that question is complex and difficult, but the reality is that we have a powerful opportunity today, right now, and never more publically than during the month of October. Writers, readers, publishers, bloggers—together we have access to media and the ability to create material that will allow stories to reach unprecedented economic, social, and personal spaces.
If you want to experience multicultural stories, gay stories, heterosexual stories—there is room for all of us at the table. October is like Thanksgiving for story and for queer—a feast, a celebration, and a joining together.
Whether you participate in Queer Romance Month, Spirit Day, National Coming Out Day—other/none, I invite you to chat up someone at the party this month who you don’t already know. Meet someone new in October. If you’re straight, ask yourself whether gay romance might be entertaining, educational. Power dynamics, economic realities, gender stereotypes—these themes are universal to both heterosexual relationships and queer couples. And what about pure entertainment? Writing about sex is about so much more than body parts… the chemistry, the insecurities, the desire—that hunger. If you’re hungry, if you’re at the party, try talking to someone new this month. You never who you’ll meet and what adventures are there for you to enjoy.
To read an excerpt from Annie's latest release Blue Suede Boi, please click here.
Annie Anthony writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and lists. She edits professionally but promises she does not critique text messages. Annie volunteers with children who have medical special needs and also with GLBTQ causes. Originally from Chicago, she currently lives in Los Angeles. She is a tattoo lover, a dog mama, and last but not least, a lesbian. Annie hopes you will visit her blog, like her Facebook author page, and follow her on Twitter. Her lesbian erotica short story, Blue Suede Boi, is available from Musa Publishing.