Rant: Marginalization for Profit

Some of you, but not all, know I’m engaged to Kate Aaron, and because she’s English and I’m American, we have to go through the immigration process. I haven’t posted on it much because frankly, it’s a lot of handwringing, asking why the hell the government needs to know that, and a hell of a lot of loneliness. I don’t want to be a drag, so I don’t talk about it much. However, we’re nearing the end of all the requirements, and only one step remains: Kate’s interview at the US Consulate in London sometime in the coming weeks. Just thinking about it makes my heart pound in anticipation.

One of the discussions we’ve had centers around the question of the best place for her to fly in to the country once her visa is approved (because I cannot allow myself to think of what would happen if we get denied). Despite the possibility that Atlanta may have more flight options, that Delta, whose largest hub and HQ is located at Hartsfield-Jackson International in ATL,  is a better airline than American for those long hauls over the ocean in terms of comfort, and that the cost of the ticket might be cheaper, we’ve decided it would be best for Kate to fly in through Chicago, which likely means American Airlines. Why?

Because marriage equality wasn’t legal in Georgia until SCOTUS ruled it’s legal in all 50 states last month. And because even with a federally recognized marriage visa approval in her hands, she might not have made it through Atlanta’s customs checkpoint with such paperwork. Georgians didn’t have to recognize same sex marriages or any related paperwork.

Now? It doesn’t matter what airport she comes through with her approved marriage visa to make an honest woman out of me.

For obvious reasons, this elates me. But are our equality struggles over? Far from it. There’ve been a slew of articles discussing how we can’t let our momentum slow on helping keep LGBT students from getting bullied, how while the EEOC recently ruled sexual orientation is already a protected class in their handbook, it’s not federally mandated that LGBT people cannot be fired in all states for our orientation. There’s still a MASSIVE homeless problem for LGBT youth. We are nowhere near done with the equality fight.

So when I saw a couple discussions in the last few days from m/m authors asking if sales were likely to suffer (or already have been) because marriage equality renders the coming out rejection angst less of a struggle for gay people, and therefore less of interest to readers who might think such a plot line is now passé, I saw red.

(Warning: stop here if you aren’t ready for a rant of epic proportions, because I’m not going to censor myself this time.)

M/M has exploded in the last few years, going from 50 or so authors to hundreds, going from hundreds or thousands of readers to tens of thousands. (I can’t speak for F/F because I know nothing about that market, but if the acceptance of same sex relationships has a foothold in the growth of readership, it’s not a stretch to assume F/F is comparable.) We’re helping people see the struggles, and yes, one of the biggest in m/m fiction is coming out. To family, friends, coworkers, etc….

I’ve seen so many memes stating how people can’t wait until it’s not gay marriage, it’s just marriage. That there’ll be no need to come out anymore because a guy can casually mention his boyfriend or husband without people falling all over themselves to scream that he’s no longer human, the fucking sodomite! That the girl growing up thinking her fellow teammate on her softball team is hot and that maybe she’ll ask her to the homecoming dance won’t be so worried about getting beat up for doing so.

Will these idealistic ideas ever fully happen? Probably not in total. There will always be people who think two men together is upsetting. Or parents who don’t want their daughter doing more with a girl than being friends. Fine, as long as they’re not allowed to tell those individuals they can’t be with who they love in every way they want to be, including marriage, adoption or other ways to achieve parenthood, when both are in the end stages of life and in need of medical care that accepts their relationship, and finally, death benefits.

The whole point has been to end the marginalization.

So for someone to theorize the lack of marginalization makes LGBT characters no longer interesting, and worse, hits the writer personally in the pocketbook, strips us of our humanity once again. As if our only purpose is to come out in a fiery argument of bible verses and tears (and maybe some physical blows) so the readership can pop their popcorn and watch the trainwreck unfold.


So suppressing my rights as a human being if it jeopardizes your plot line wherein you make money off telling a facet of my story is okay? I don’t fucking think so. We need allies who are happy for us right now. Be glad future generations will be more likely to think same sex couples are no big deal when they see us on the street holding hands. Or when Kate gets here and I rush her at the airport to lay a kiss on her lips when I’ve spent the last six months without her, we won’t get scoffed at or called dykes. Be proud that the stories we all tell about LGBT struggles have possibly done good to make those struggles a little less necessary.

Don’t be sad your bank account is emptier because we are now more free.

As long as human beings have strong feelings both for and against each other, there are plenty of plot lines to explore. I’m an angst hoor, so I am a huge fan of plot lines involving inner turmoil, sexual tension, and pining for an unrequited/broken love. I know plot lines exist besides coming out, that LGBT people can be characters in books without the main premise being that they’re gay, and those books are still interesting. LGBT people aren’t one dimensional, and our only struggle isn’t our orientation. We have hidden depths, like bills to pay, and favorite foods and TV shows, and things everyone worries about, like the safety of our loved ones and the direction our careers take. Yes, we’re LGBT, but we’re human first.

Explore plots without relying on coming out rejection angst rather than lament the coming out plots are dying. But don’t you dare say it’s bad that we’re becoming more equal if it makes your bottom line suffer, because all I hear when you say that is my oppression is okay to you as long as you’re making money off my struggles. If you’re not creative enough to come up with something more to write about and move with the times, then shut down your computer and go find a different job. Society is evolving for the better, so either get on the train or get left behind. But don’t you dare say such evolution should slow down or stop so you don’t get stuck on the train platform with your head stuck up your ass.

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51 thoughts on “Rant: Marginalization for Profit

  • WOW! YES!!!

    I read some of those discussions on FB and I’m going, “Huh? You’re worried about losing sales because you feel you can’t capitalize on my oppression any more? HUH?!!!’

    I LOVE your passion, AJ! I’m saving this post for future reference!

    • Heh. What you call passion I call spitting nails. I probably should calm myself down a bit.

      There’s a fine line between writing for a cause and writing for trends, but it’s in the nuance of such things that a story can really fly. Making people think evolves with collective consciousness, but when that consciousness shifts, shift with it to stay relevant.

  • First of all, I’m glad I appear to have missed those discussions on FB since I don’t think I could have kept my mouth shut. I would have let rip, as you did above, and that’s me, whose happiness doesn’t stand or fall with what other people think about the way I love.

    Secondly, I really, really wished that marriage equality meant that coming out was no longer an issue, that kids would no longer be kicked out by their parents and that we’d be one big accepting world, except that’s not what has happened and in all likelihood (and unfortunately) not going to happen any time soon – so anybody who does depend on writing angsty coming out tales and can happily continue doing so. I mean, all we need to do for comparison sake is look at the non-white segment of most (if not all) Western countries’ populations to know that just because you’ve been declared equal doesn’t mean you get treated as such.

    And finally, how dare they. I’m not going to expand on this one, because all I would do is repeat what you already said. I’ll leave it at this: regretting somebody else’s good fortune because it hurts you in your pocketbook is selfishness taken to the extreme. So please, say what you think and feel and say it loud. Clearly people -even those who were supposed to be allies – still need a lot of education.

  • I saw that thread going on FB and started to comment but then deleted my comment. I do that a lot. I may do it here, too. We’ll see.

    I remember a conversation between Helena Stone and myself about how ridiculous this writing “profession” really is. For the amount of work that goes into a book, the return is laughable, at best. And even then, someone will bitch about a book being priced at $2.99. I also remember – in that same conversation – our discussing that we’re in the unique position of fighting for something that would potentially put us “out of work,” so to speak. (Not really, though – if TRUE equality were to ever exist, then, yes, it would hurt the angsty storyline of a character’s ‘coming out’ but most MM and FF books at this point should have more to their story than just a ‘coming out’ in my opinion.)

    But let’s be real. Yeah, SCOTUS ruled in favor of equality, but the reality of it is, while we (LGBTQAI and Allies) were celebrating, a very large percentage of the population was not. They’re STILL pissed – I see it on my timeline every day.

    Those precious plotlines will still be valid. I, personally, would love nothing more than to see the day when they aren’t, but I doubt I’ll live that long, seeing as how there’s still people in this world that still have a problem with interracial couples. And I’m sure, just like the race issue, there will be pockets of the country that take decades to accept same sex couples – we can set our stories there. Or, simply set the story in 2014 – we’re writers – we should be able to do that without a whole lot of effort.

    I’m all over the place here and my inner editor (she’s like an inner goddess only meaner) is screaming to highlight and hit delete, but I think I’ll go ahead and post this – if for no other reason than to say I felt bad when I read that thread because I knew it was going to unintentionally hurt people and I’m sorry that you and Kate have had to jump through so many hoops just to be together. You’re living proof that angst will still exist regardless of the SCOTUS ruling.

    And if I could be a fly on the wall at the airport…I’d pay to see that moment. <3 <3

    • And this is why I usually hit ‘delete’. Just to clarify, in the discussion with Helena and myself, we both agreed that, in a perfect world, we’ll have to find another genre ;o)

      • No you won’t. You can still write about LGBT people, but it won’t have to be labeled M/M romance. I won’t have to put a post-apocalypse story in romance just because the MCs are in a relationship and they’re both guys. We can browse ALL the titles when we’re picking our next read, or delve deeper by keyword if we so choose. In a perfect world, write the stories anyway, but fuck the labels.

  • I really do not understand human beings. The authors you mentioned lamenting a drop in sales is a good example. If they applied that logic, then we would still have the KKK riding around in bed sheets and someone making a buck writing about it!! I celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling but, it is a baby step on the path to equality. As long as humans exist, hate and discrimination will still abound and, those writers wishing to turn a profit on it will continue to have that opportunity unfortunately.

    On brighter side, I am glad things are progressing with Kate. Governmental paperwork is a nightmare. I have a large backlog of books on my Kindle. I started reading my first Kate Aaron book. I love her style and, I know I will be hitting that One Click button on Amazon to purchase more of her books.

  • I want to be clear, I’m not saying coming out stories shouldn’t be written anymore. Not at all, because as much as I wish otherwise, people will continue to struggle with this for years to come. I’m saying if there’s worry the market for these stories is shrinking, write another idea. There are plenty that are just as valid, just as furthering of the cause, and just as interesting to readers, who are human beings and nuanced in their reading tastes, too.

  • I saw some of those posts yesterday and my first thought was WTF? You’re worried about your bottom line? How egotistical and self-centered you have just proven yourself to be. I don’t read m/m for the hardships the characters have suffered. I read because the authors I stick with write incredible, moving, and mind-blowing stories that may or may not put them thru angst hell. Your *rant* as you call it is 100% spot on.
    Congratulations to you and Kate getting closer and closer. 🙂

  • First of all, AJ, congratulations on your upcoming nuptials (I ‘ve always wanted to say that) and all of the little offspring books you two will birth 😀 ! When I read stuff like this it strengthens my resolve to stay off of social media. Since I don’t have Facebook, I may have missed a pertinent point: what the hell does marriage equality have to do with coming out? There are more vocal loony tunes out there than ever before! I agree with everyone here. You give good rants, AJ. By the way, I have hundreds of m/m books on my kindle and I can’t recall too many where coming out is the main thing, and I love angst.

  • The discussion you referred to is flawed and downright disrespectful on multiple levels. How dare authors, or anyone, capitalizing on M/M romances whether that be in a book, movie, song, vlog, etc . be upset or worried that their bank accounts will be a little lighter now that marriage equality is the law of the land! Just because all 50 states now have to legally recognize SSM that does NOT mean that the PEOPLE IN THOSE STATES WILL BE ACCEPTING!

    LGBT people still face discrimination every day in this country, as do many other minorities. Just turn on the news at night and listen to the shit that is coming out of the mouths of some of the men (and women) running for President of this country. The path to true acceptance is a long one, and it’s also one that starts with ourselves. Maybe the authors discussing this concern meant well…I don’t know…I wasn’t around to see it for myself (NOTE: This is a HUGE reason why I left Facebook), but from the outside looking in…that’s not something a true ally would worry about. If you truly wanted equal rights and protections under the law for LGBT people then that discussion never would have happened. Just my two cents… *crawls back into obscurity*

    • Which brings me to another point: oppression isn’t just an LGBT thing. Police brutality, shaming people on public assistance for being poverty-stricken in a country where the rich are getting richer and fuck the rest of society, stripping women’s rights, and religious inequality and racial profiling. People are dying because of hatred, being suppressed for reasons that have nothing to do with their character and everything to do with who someone thinks is the terrorist-flavor-of-the-month. We have a long way to go for an equal society, and profit from marginalization can only be lessened (because frankly, I doubt it’ll ever be stopped) if we say hey, fuck that noise. I’m not okay with that.

      Good to see you again.

  • Step out of fb & get left behind! I’m appalled that some author wrote that theory down. Storytelling is an art form … you don’t make money off of art … it is fulfilling a need to express yourself! WTF?! Who thinks they have to make money off of art? To me … a story should be about humans … the gender “labels” should be interchangeable. Stories are about interaction with each other … not interaction of “labels”. The SCOTUS ruling didn’t change a thing in so many lives & made it worse in a lot of lives!! Hatred doesn’t go away just because there is now a “rule” that says you can’t do that any more! You & Kate are Absolutely correct in your flight arrival determination!! People man those counters … humans who have the capacity to hate & make life a living hell for others! I am thrilled that your nuptials are so close!! Keep us posted … we need Great GOOD news in our lives. We supporters are still here supporting every step of the way. Equality & Respect is for Everyone … “labels” are for No one! Love to All from Alaska

  • Oh lord, I am about to step in it, but here goes:

    There is a line that is drawn between people who write m/m fiction and queer folk who write about gay issues.

    This isn’t a bash the authors comment, but listen to what I am saying:

    There are people who write what they write because they see it as sexy, or scandalous, or because the idea of men getting it on, turns them on. There’s no shame in it. Its derived from slash fic and fanfic and it is what it is, and that is fine. But I have seen way too many comments and pictures on facebook with two men making out or in some stage of undress that makes this very clear.

    But there are queer people who write what they write because its what they live/ lived. They don’t exist inside the protection of a heteronormative lifestyle. They are professing their life and their experiences. Like African American literature, written by black people, once they write ‘the end’ they have to return to their queer life and all of the pressure that comes along with it. Beyond the sex, beyond the angst, beyond the bedroom and the sexuality actually takes a backseat to the day to day life these artists are trying to portray for the world.

    Whether or not m/m disappears, which I don’t think it will, really isn’t an issue. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the calm before the storm. Just because SCOTUS made marriage a real thing, doesn’t mean the backlash isn’t coming. If you remember, Jim Crow came AFTER the 14th amendment. We’ve all been screaming about the stars and bars flag in North Carolina, but that came AFTER the court made integration a reality.

    Regardless of the reason why you write what you write. You MUST keep writing. YOU MUST KEEP WRITING.

    Don’t lament yet, the storm clouds are gathering. Your opportunity to be in the midst of a chaos hasn’t started yet. The hard stuff is coming. Gay people know this. They’ve been commenting to this recently. Hold on, its gonna get bumpy.

    • You really want to open cans of worms, don’tcha? 😉

      Here’s the thing: people are sexual beings, and to find attractive something outside our experience is to be open minded to different lives, the uniqueness of people, and the beauty in relationships different from our own. Now if that doesn’t make people feel like their own relationship is less than (by that I mean seeing only one kind of relationship portrayed when they know they’re into a different kind of relationship and feeling deprived because their kind of ‘ship isn’t represented) then it’s an enlightening thing. If it stops there, there is absolutely no harm, no foul, and hey, perhaps in the process of seeking out books about the kind of relationship this particular reader wants to read/writer wants to write, they learn another facet about these other kinds of relationships. There’s a bit of knowledge gained. And even if there’s no lesson learned but someone is entertained, it’s still a win.

      This is a good thing.

      But there are also writers that want to go other directions, which are less about the relationship and more about, I don’t know, tackling every day life or a specific scenario that could happen regardless of the kind of relationship the MCs are in. Maybe these stories are a little less sexy but with more explosions or espionage or superheroes. Maybe it’s these stories, about the gritty life of characters with more going on than their sex lives, that will be helpful when, like you said Fred, the shit hits the fan. Maybe it’s the first kind of story that will help. We can’t know, so we need BOTH. We haven’t even BEGUN, I don’t think, to imagine the backlash for this.

      Just the other day, I read an article about an amendment to the No Child Left Behind law, which called for protections against LGBT bullying. The amendment was struck down by a wide margin, wanting to leave it to the state and local law enforcement rather than make it federal. I fully believe that’s part of the backlash.

      Then there’s this article that says marriage equality support has dropped since the SCOTUS ruling: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/07/18/ap-poll-sharp-divisions-after-high-court-backs-gay-marriage/30341661/

      We are still divided, and we still need people writing these stories with LGBT protagonists, whether its for the sexy times, the coming out times, or the saving the world times, to remind people we’re HUMAN FIRST, and to look us in the eyes while arguing we should be denied rights. Maybe more people seeing us as humans and not some statistic will make them pause and go, “Wait, that’s not fair.” If that realization of our humanity comes about because they read a sexy book or a scary book or a dramatic book or a thrilling book about an LGBT pairing, then we’re doing it right. Not writing the books, that’s the travesty. Just… don’t do it only because of the money, and then say it sucks when we gain fairness because that hurts sales.

    • I also want to say that those living the life as well as writing LGBT from a more reality based perspective are not immune to the sexy times books. I can only speak for myself that sometimes, I’m in the mood for a story with a lot of action, a bigger-than-life plot, or something supernatural that just doesn’t lend to sexy times, and sometimes I want a book about two people falling for each other and getting totally googly eyed. It’s not either or. It can be both without being contradictory.

  • Maybe I’m borrowing a spark from your bonfire, or about to piss diesel fuel on one of my own. Any committed relationship is double damned hard because human beings are complex creations of a Zealous Godden. That any quasi-sentient hominid thinks it’s OK to restrict loving behavior of any sort is short-sighted and asking for the Foot of Karma to make a deposit of toe jam in their lower intestinal tract. Marginalizing any loving behavior between those of consenting age is an act worthy of being identified with criminality, ignorance and bigotry of the lowest form. I’ve watched the dance of Love, Frustration and Renewed Hope between you and your beloved for more than a year now; each setback makes me cry, each hurdle you clear makes me cheer (ok, I cry too) and now that things are so close to your well-deserved HEA, it seems like all I can do is whisper a little prayer each morning….with fingers crossed, salt tossed over the shoulder, and ashes cleansed from the fire pit. The candles are still on the altar, AJ…

  • Congrats on getting the love of your life here (if you have). I agree. I want to imagine a world where two people holding hands are looked on with “aww, aren’t they sweet” thoughts rather than differentiating on their sexuality. There are more stories out there, writers. Find them. Being LGBTQA isn’t only about coming out. Sheesh.

  • OMG what is wrong with people. Soooo glad I missed that discussion on FB, although it would have been a quick way to pare down my friends list I suppose. Christ.

  • I know I’m going to make myself unpopular here but this discussion started with my post about how my sales have dropped by half, I also read the separate posts which followed on.

    I fully agree with everything you’ve said, except I think shaming authors for wanting to make money is unhelpful. I’m not going to apologise for writing for money. As a single parent this pays my bills and feeds my kids, and a drop in sales means I’m now working two extra jobs as well.

    I can be happy for you and Kate. I can hope for a much better future but I still need the coffers to be full.

    • Until Kate moves here, I’m a single parent with bills, too and have been for five years now. I write for a living (for the last 9 months only after being laid off) because I’ve been lucky with timing of my books and very generous readers recommending them to friends. I’m in no way shaming an author for making a living at their craft or I’d be a big fucking hypocrite.

      Also, I saw your post, and you mentioned nothing about why your sales have slowed, just that they have. So this post wasn’t in response to you.

      My issue is the supposition that now marriage equality is legal in all 50 states, that the coffers of angsty storylines are drying up, thus possibly being responsible for the decline of sales. There could be any number of factors, but I was grossly offended by the idea that, “Oh, now that LGBT people have ONE equal right, there’s no longer money to be made and everything is hunky dory. Let’s pack up our gear and find the next thing, a physical or mental deficiency maybe, to fall back on to bring that lovely, lovely angst.”

      I bite my tongue a lot, but about this I won’t. I’m not shaming someone for making money writing. I’m mad because of the cavalier attitude that now we have gained a single major protection in the equality fight, 1. our struggles are over, because they are NOT, 2. that the only reason to write m/m is for the money and now that it’s not working so well, it’s OUR (LGBT people’s) fault for not having more trouble due to coming out which 3. is a shitty thing to have to do in the first place, but we’re a minority so people will always assume straight unless we tell them otherwise. It’s not shaming. It’s demanding to not be viewed as a commodity.

    • I’ll second what AJ says. I’m another who makes their full income from writing (two years and counting…) and I’m the last person who’ll go all highfalutin about “art” vs “commerce” because we can write what we want and still keep a business head on our shoulders. A lot of authors are reporting sales are down, for myriad reasons. I’m happy to speculate about almost any of them.

      What I object to in the strongest terms (and what wasn’t on your post, or anything to do with you) is the glib attitude that the uppity gays have ruined the fantasy for everyone by going and getting themselves a smidgen of equality and taken all the fun out of watching their lives implode. Like it’s somehow our fault if people can’t profit off us anymore. At least, that’s how it came off.

      And underlying that assertion is the belief that there are no stories about queer characters other than stories about them being queer, and if that isn’t difficult then what’s the point? Never mind the flood of het romances that are published every day, to say nothing of the thousands of other genres with characters whose sexuality *gasp* really isn’t relevant to the plot. It’s reductive, it’s shortsighted, and it’s downright offensive. One might as well say there’s been no point writing about black characters since the abolition of slavery.

    • I want to apologize, Sue, if my post made you think I was dogging anybody for trying to make a living writing. I’ve participated in hundreds of discussions on the reasons behind sales numbers or lack of them, without getting offended at all. Your question wasn’t what raised my hackles. It was what followed and the way it sounded like LGBT people only have one value to bring to the table.

      • Thanks, AJ. Sorry, it just touched a nerve at the moment. I’m sure you can relate ;). I wonder if people, in discussing factors affecting sales, failed to see their discussion as others’ lived experiences. It’s easy to talk glibly about something in the abstract if it doesn’t really affect you. I’ve had some eye-opening discussions with people since I came out.

        • Clearly, it touched a nerve for me, too.

          Well, my tone isn’t exactly non-confrontational here, but maybe the discussion itself can move beyond the nerves and into the realm of experiences and that maybe some good will come of it instead of it being just another internet scuffle.

  • If some people are lamenting a smaller paycheck because ‘it’s ok to be gay now’, they are writing what they are writing for the wrong reasons, or they lack imagination. The battle is far from won, anyway. Personally, I will not stop buying and reading gay romance, just because same-sex marriage is now legal. I read it because I like the dynamic. I read authors whose stories I enjoy. That isn’t going to change just because some folks have gotten a bit closer to equality. And when full equality is achieved — I will still read gay romance because I enjoy the dynamic and I will still read authors whose stories I enjoy.

    Btw, you just illustrated the biggest reason I can’t visit FB very often. Too much noise and not enough signal. I’ve often been tempted to delete my FB account altogether…

  • I probably don’t have much original to add to this discussion, but I just wanted to say that it’s undoubtedly a good thing I didn’t see the posts that prompted you to write this, A.J. Because if I had, I think my blood pressure would probably have sprayed out my ears. And that wouldn’t have ended well for anyone. The sheer unmitigated fucking gall…. *mutters quietly in a corner until the urge to kick something has mostly passed* I’m thrilled about the Obergefell decision. Thrilled. But I’m a lawyer, and I know it’s just the beginning.

    One other point I’d like to make, though. I’m not a gay man, and I’m a cisgender female, so I suppose when I write about two or more men, it’s always going to be considered “m/m” rather than “gay fiction”, never mind what my actual sexuality is, That’s okay, because I can’t expect people to understand me, who I am, how I identify, and why I write what I write, at a glance. But I’m an author, and I take pride in what I write. And I’ve never given that much of a damn about romance tropes (which is probably why I’ll never write for my whole living! 😉 ). And I want what I write to be as true to actual lived experience as I can get within the mythic and legendary fantasy subgenre in which I live and write. I may not always get it right, but I’m really, really trying not to write het tropes in jockstraps. And I know I’m not alone.

    • As with any subject, there are ways of learning more in the research process to write the best possible story people can. It’s why we shouldn’t be restricted to writing about only our gender or the career we’ve chosen or the city we live in. I don’t know shit about the military, so I got myself a military advisor who can answer all my questions, tell me if I got the tone of my characters right, their language and mindset, and anything else I need to know. Same for writing about LGBT people. Or doctors. Or someone from Mexico or New Zealand. It’s a matter of research and respecting the lives we’re trying to portray. Genuinely trying to get it right is all any of us can do.

      • Exactly! (And by the way, my son’s dad is from Poland — was undocumented when we met, in fact. So I’ve done the whole immigration interview thing, plus adjustment of status, albeit in a hetero marriage and in an era before US Immigration became insanely paranoid. But I did find it survivable *winks* Sending you and Kate best wishes and all kinds of positive energy.)

  • To those writers who complained about their sales, here’s an idea… How about concentrating on writing plot, and on creating memorable characters who are human beings first and gay second? If you do, believe me, sales with take care of themselves. If you’re laboring under the impression that the only salable themes in the m/m genre are coming out/marriage inequality, you’re doing yourself, your readership, and the population you claim to support a huge disservice.

  • M/M, and F/F for that matter, are not genres that interest me in the slightest, though I know a good few authors in both camps. Let’s be honest. Heterosexual marriage was legal for centuries, and it didn’t do Barbara Cartland any harm. But you make a good point, that despite the law there will still be bias and hatred against the LGBT community. But fretting that reduced opposition is going to hit your bank account? That sucks throughout, because it’s illogical and bloody selfish

  • Probably a very good thing I’m not on FB, I would have let them have it. But then, it’s not something I haven’t noticed in the past.

    But the market will continue. Sufferage didn’t diminish the romance genre, it expanded it. I’ve no doubt lgbt equality will do the same. If you can’t get past the tropes, then you’ll die an author’s death. And good riddance.

  • Hi AJ! Nice posting. Very direct, which I appreciate. I suspect that those authors discussing the topic weren’t intentionally trying to be hurtful, but they definitely weren’t considering the larger context or the implications of their words. And as authors, we need to be aware of the words we’re using. It’s one of our many obligations to our readers, colleagues, etc. And I share your upset about linking marginalization with profit. Sometimes people just don’t think.

    Also, in terms of the coming out trope: I suspect it will be around for many years to come in many forms. And if it’s not, we’re writers, we’ll come up with something else. There are enough other causes of conflict in relationships/peoples’ lives that I suspect we’ll somehow manage to keep our readers engaged. 😉

    And congratulations on being so close to having Kate join you. 🙂 I love her Free Men series and I love your Power Exchange series. I’m looking forward to seeing what you both do in the future.

    • And that’s basically what Sue Brown said in a previous comment: I wonder if people, in discussing factors affecting sales, failed to see their discussion as others’ lived experiences. It’s easy to talk glibly about something in the abstract if it doesn’t really affect you.

      I can see that perspective, for sure, and I’m quite certain I’ll put my foot in it at some point in the future, too. None of us are exempted, but it needed to be said that LGBT people deserve better than what the conversation I witnessed reduced us to.

      As for what Kate and I are up to (aside from moving preparations), she’s writing the third book in a series; the first of that series is called Balls Up. I’m working on book 2 in the apocalypse story, and book 1, The Long Fall of Night, was out in June. 🙂 If you’re interested, you can click on My Books page up at the top and see if anything strikes you. Thank you for the comment!

  • I look forward to the day when you won’t need to concern yourself with which gateway your fiancée arrives at. Living in Canada, it’s been a non issue for a decade. I expect that will happen after a while in even the conservative states. I wish you both every happiness, and thank you for your gift of telling wonderful stories!
    Aloha, -Geoff

    • I look forward to that day, too, but hopefully it’ll be to some other couple’s benefit, because she’ll be here and already my wife when that day comes. Aloha!

  • I haven’t read everyone’s comments so if I am being redundant please forgive. First of all if the only way those writers think they can turn a buck is to exploit the misery of others then they have much bigger problems than EEOC and the marriage equality act. See romance books are about romance. It’s the LOVE STUPID. If they didn’t get that memo then that’s why their sales are dropping. Or maybe their books just suck. Seems to me they should try reading some authors who write about life, love, troubles and triumph in the past, present future and supernatural. AJ maybe you should email them some books from you, and Kate and ohhh out 20 other authors I have in collection with storylines that have not one damn thing to do with the angst of not being able to get married. How dare they try to minimize such a powerful forward step that it took this country centuries to take. Oh hell, now I’m ranting again! Here’s a thought, maybe they will just stop writing since they think they have nothing to write about. There’s a saying that ends, if you think you can’t you won’t. Frankly if they can’t see this as a positive thing the f***k em. Let them go join the author who shall not be named, that thinks indie writers are the reasons his book sales go down. They can form a club, get hats and t-shirts that say “poor me” on them. OK hissy fit finished now.

    • One more thing. I am sure their readers, if they have any are ohhh so happy to know how shallow these authors think they are. Just sayin.

  • I’ve always been about writing us as we are. I think you can have an engaging story with a strong romantic thread that is NOT genre m/m romance (I still shudder at the box that comes with that genre but that’s just me – a bonafide gay man whose life experiences have been literally all over the spectrum – debauchery, being on the wrong side of the law, partying with porn stars, family man (with kids and grandkids) – you name it – I went there. I write from these many experiences and those I have culled from my gay brothers from in-depth conversations we’ve had about the successes in life as well as the harrowing disasters. I can’t compromise my voice. Angels of Mercy is total headspace with a young boy who comes directly from my own past – from my own notes where my head was AT THAT AGE. In many respects, I am writing to that boy that I was who held onto other gay men’s voices (Gordon Merrick, John Rechy, Felice Picano) that gave me hope and got me through days of harsh bullying and abuse.

    I want stories that are far more reflective of our lives – completely absent of “oh you shouldn’t do that” – listen up kids, life ain’t safe. The writing (for me at least) shouldn’t be either. I am a firm believer that powerful (love) stories can be told with all of the foibles and follies that befall all of us as we try to eke out some small slice of happiness to call our own – in whatever form that may be. Infidelity, threesomes, moresomes, open relationships, addiction (sexual or otherwise) – it should ALL be on the table as tools to tell stories.

    Someone in the pub world once said – It isn’t romance unless I say it’s romance – get over yourself sweetheart. You DON’T hold the barometer of what is romance. Romance can come in MANY forms and it should. I know this won’t win me romance fans (so not concerned with that – I am writing us as we are so rose colored BS isn’t on my radar). But I do write romance that is closer to the bone, riddled in blood, sweat and tears.

    Having polled several of my gay brothers why they don’t read gay fiction they often cite one of two reasons – (1) the darkness of the whole HIV/AIDS days of writing and how it became too much – which I agree were dark but I also firmly believe they are a part of our collective queer history; and (2) the works being published now are gay in name and body parts only. Not much in the way of being accurate representations of our lives as we live them. I tend to agree with them – the genre as it stands now is broken and needs to evolve. We need to break free of any rules and let authors write the stories that they need to tell and maybe, just maybe, as a reader you’ll discover a mode of writing that you never knew you would appreciate.

    As a reader myself, I want honest-to-goodness page turners. Reading m/m fic now – I know how it’s gonna end (even if I don’t) – it’s just too fucking safe and comforting. Bleh… pasadena. Rattle some fucking cages, dig deep and have some REAL powerful storytelling that shows what we’re up against – how our lives really are. I love the threads you’ve been posting lately AJ, and I can’t wait to get you and your lovely lady on our podcast show to talk about it. To be honest – I am fairly chomping at the bit to get on with it!

    Kisses and hugs to you both! Bright and shining examples of where we need to be going with it all.


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