Because why not?
So, a few days ago I found a question on the NaNoWriMo site (I’m doing it of course 😀 ) asking about what not to do in a book about a gay romance. Now, I’ve read a lot of gay romances, and I’ve written one. Well, two. My best friend is gay and I hear about his relationship all the time, so I consider myself pretty well versed in the world of gay relationships. (By gay I mean male/male, but a lot of the relationship stuff applies to anyone). So here are the few things I said to the original poster.
Things to avoid:
- The “coming out sequence.” I mean, yeah, it can be important, but most of the time what I see is a shy guy who has to admit to himself that he’s gay, or he’s shy about it, or his parents don’t like it and kick him out, and so on. Be careful with it. I start my romance with the main character knowing full well he’s bi and not caring what other people think. The only reason he doesn’t talk about it is… well, women are his preference. So it’s not something that’s prominent in his mind. And it’s not like all straight romances have the main character think about their sexuality. He doesn’t even think to tell his parents until his boyfriend mentions it to him. And when he does, he just states it to them at dinner like an every day thing, his parents give him a look, and say, “was it supposed to be a secret?”
- The idea that there is a distinct and constant dominant and submissive in a gay relationship. I talked to my friend about this, and he laughed and told me he and his boyfriend switch depending on the mood. Doesn’t matter to them. Sometimes, yes, there will be a personality who is more strong willed and dominant, but think about heterosexual relationships for a minute. Traditionally the guy is dominant, but very often the girl is, or they both are, or neither are. Don’t fall into the stereotype that one of the men is shy and acts like a high school girl you’d see in a movie, and the other is a dark and brooding dominant who likes to control everything and always tops. People don’t fit into only two categories.
- One of my most hated things that happens in a male/male romance, particularly in fanfiction, is that every single freaking character is gay. Because in real life it’s not true. It’s one thing to support the gay community and want them represented, but you also have to think about how realistic it is. In my romance, the MC is bi, his eventually boyfriend his gay, there’s a lesbian character who makes a short appearance (she’s more relevant to one of the prequels), but other than that? They’re all straight. Why? Because the majority of the people in the world are. Now I’m not going to get into the kinsey scale and all that. Far too complicated for me at 6 in the morning. But be very careful about how many characters you put in who are gay. Straight people do exist.
- But! My even more hated one? Women bashing. It’s not as common in published works and LGBT novels, but in fanfics? Or stories I’ve read online? There’s a joke that if you’re a woman in a LGBT book you’re either a @*$#*( or a lesbian. And the weird thing is, most of the people writing/drawing these things are women. So don’t fall into the stereotype of the girl who tries to break up the main couple because she’s jealous or really wants the guy to herself. Most girls I know who have a crush on a gay guy end up just admiring from the sidelines and being totally supportive. Some girls are not nice, but it’s like with the dom sub thing: everyone is different. Don’t let stereotypes run your novel (which is actually a good idea to have for ANY novel)
- Not all gay guys are into fashion or talk like a girl would. Some do. I know plenty of gay guys who talk with a stereotypical lilt and who love to talk to girls about… well “girly” things. I also know gay guys who dress in a bro tank and shorts all the time, say, “dude” and could be considered a stereotypical bro. Everyone is different. Make sure you’re writing a character, not a gay character. People and characters are not defined (or, shouldn’t be defined), by their sexuality.
- Gay couples fight. They do. I’ve seen it happen with my uncles, I’ve seen it with my best friend, and I’ve seen it in my high school friends too. They get into arguments and scream at each other and say things they’ll regret later. So make sure to avoid having the couple be absolutely perfect with no issues. Perfect couples scare me. I always think they’re hiding something. Like a body.
- Another, not always talked about, thing to avoid: bashing religion and/or people who are uncomfortable about homosexuality. Everyone has a right to feel what they feel and think what they think. In my romance, I have two characters who are made uncomfortable by homosexuality. Both think it’s a sin, and both don’t like going into any sort of detail about it. But I don’t make them out to be horrible people. They’re not. They don’t go out and beat up members of the LGBT community, they don’t actively protest gay marriage or make snide remarks whenever gays are around. Thoughts and feelings should not dictate a how a person is treated. Their actions should. People like this do exist. They’re not comfortable with it, but that means they don’t get into the argument at all. No picking sides for them when it comes to political action. I hate it when I see people like this getting put down in books or movies or television shows. I think it’s rude and not very welcoming.
- One last thing to avoid: the idea that gay people can’t be mean or catty. I went to a high school with a group of lesbian supremacists who thought if you weren’t a lesbian, you were wrong. People think I’m crazy when I say this, but I promise you I’m not. This does happen. Because people are people and some people are mean. So try to have a wide variety of people in your cast. Maybe there is a LGBT member who’s just insufferable. Instead of making them right, or making it so people see their point and therefore they have no punishment for being a jerk, let them have a punishment. Again, sexuality does not define a person, nor should it defined your character.
Alright, so I think that’s enough. Overall? A relationship is a relationship. There is no one right way to write a M/M or F/F relationship, and there is no one right way to write a M/F relationship. Everyone is different, and every couple is different.
So that’s all folks! I gotta go do Chinese homework now.
I’m out! Anyone have anything to add? Feel free! Disagree with one of my points? I’d love to hear about it.