Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Does Gay Mean Erotic?

Well, of course it doesn't. Queer literature covers many genres, and explicit sex is only a small slice of the offerings. You'd think it would be obvious that a cozy murder mystery with a gay detective isn't necessarily erotic. It may not have a single sex scene.

And Yet.

To the straight world, that no-brainer seems to be impossible to wrap their brains around.

This came up in a conversation on Speak It's Name (gay historical fiction) that spanned days about RWA's habit of taking money from GLBT writers and then shunning them like lepers and refusing to extend the same services for that money that they extend to writers of straight fiction. Many of the writers on Speak It's Name write what should be classified as sweet romance. However, reviewers, many publishers, and
organizations such asRWA have decided that in order not to offend anyone, if a main character is gay, those sweet romances should be lumped in with erotica.

Okay, so you're thinking What's the Big Deal?

The big deal is that readers looking for a story with a queer main character but NOT looking for erotica don't know that everything from Westerns to sweet romances to science fiction are lumped together. A great/terrible example of this is Max Pierce's lovely The Master ofSeacliff (Max - if you read this, we bandied your name about freely and everyone agrees you need to write another book). The Master of Seacliff
has - to my memory - one very brief sex scene that isn't explicit. Love scene is a better term for it than sex scene. Many (female) readers were upset (to the point that they bashed Max) that the book didn't have explicit sex in it. If the book had been properly classified as a sweet romance, they would have known they shouldn't expect erotica, and the reviews probably would have been much more supportive. (As they should have been. Max - we're waiting for the next one. Hint. Hint.)
But as it is, the queer stamp on it means that most review sites won't touch it. They don't want their readers to get upset.

Readers should be up in arms about this. Do you really need to be coddled? Are
you so damn fragile that you can't abide the idea of a reviewer talking about a sweet romance that has queer characters? Would the books you want to read be tainted if they shared shelf space with queer romance? You're an adult. Do you need a censor to protect you? If not, then contact your favorite review sites and ask them to cover queer sweet romance and to treat it as sweet romance. Or start your own review

I write erotica. I don't write sweet romance. But I can completely sympathize with writers who get lumped into erotica when they don't belong there.

Queer ≠ Erotic

Does anyone else see the inequality here?

No comments: