Due to the amazing thing that is the internet, the kindle and (self)publishing I feel I need to write this post about something that really really bugs me and leaves me not reading about half the books I get on my kindle.
Crappy gay books
There, I said it and now I’ll explain what I mean with that.
I’ve been around the internet and their amazing channels of less popular genres for quite a few years, nearing 8 years of knowing Fanfiction.net I think… Apart from some slash pictures and stills from yaois I’d never run into anything that was part of the genre of men love. By that time I had a few gay characters in my own work, but I’d never seen any gay characters in other people’s work, which I thought was sad.
That was until I found the Harry Potter department of FF and especially the vast amount of Sirius on Remus fanfictions there were. It was quite a hit and miss there, though there are some quick ways of finding the good stories (I will talk about that in my guide soon). My other obsession soon after was Kaname on Zero (Vampire Knight). From there on I found FictionPress a daughter site of Fanfiction but meant for original works.
That is where my real dive into good gay characters started, after a few false starts I found a few great writers that I still follow till this day.
These days I find most of my stories on Smashwords and in the Kindle shop, often freebies and cheap ebooks. Here any story is a hit or miss, it is hard to find a good story linked to the next great story.
What really gets to me is that mainly there are two types of stories when it comes to gay works. The almost real ones and the definitely fake ones. It has nothing to do with subtypes of the genre like coming out and things like that, I’ve seen good and bad of all.
I’ll start with what I feel to be the fake gay story.
The story sets out describing in detail the surroundings of the characters, into details that I don’t even see, let alone most guys. The characters are overly feminine, they use real girly vocabulary and over all make me (as a girl) want to strangle the character. These are often the stories that if you make the MC a girl it would change into a regular chickflick, and one of those really cheap ones too. They are usually written by women and I can only assume also for women. And the real downside? You can’t see it on the cover or read it in the description… Basically, they are stories that are about how the writer would act if she was the gay character, without actually thinking about the fact she is a girl and her character isn’t.
Gay men are not the same as girls!!!!
What I do when I encounter such a story? I delete it from my kindle and remember to stay far away from that writer.
Women who write male characters in other genres won’t get away with crap like that, why should they in gay stories?
Now then, what do I find to be good gay stories?
The guys are actual guys, they go outside and do not see the flowers, but they see that their bike has been moved by someone. They don’t constantly talk about fashion and end every sentence with “guuuurrlll”. I’m not saying you can’t write ‘queen’ or ‘fairy’ type of gays, but I’m saying that no matter how stereotypical gay they are, they are still men. And especially in company of other guys they will act like guys, not over the top girls.
I don’t care if you write stereotypes, I know that Sean Michael pulls off some great stereotypes in his stories but does it in a way that just works, you know why? Because all his men feel like men.
There are more writers like this, and not all male either. Nephylim and Daisy Harris are two female writers of totally different genres who write amazingly strong and believable gay characters. Nephylim is more for the gothic type guys and rock stars and often deals with heavy subjects and sweet but painful love. Daisy on the other hand likes her guys buff and hot, stories are often more of the easier for the mind type and the love is more physical.
Both writers work with an array of stereotypes and work their way through them well.
The same differentiation I would not dare to make between Red Haircrow and Sean Michael, they both have vastly different works in their name. Though I have often found the stories by Red to be more delicate at times and the works of Sean to be rougher and more growly, but what I get is that this is purely down to their personalities.
Can I pinpoint why these stories work for me? I can always try. For one, they might over think things but they don’t spend half a chapter whining about it. They act like most straight men would, though sometimes slightly more feminine, feminine, not like a female. They are more likely to appreciate the body underneath clothes than the actual clothes. They don’t whine about their weight 80% of the time (unless maybe around a faghag). It’s hard to pin down but it comes down to this:
Gay guys are guys, who like other guys.
It is that easy. Gay guys are not women who are in the wrong body and are still straight, no, they are men, who like men.
I think this video might explain it better than I can:
Gay stories are not just the newest craze for bored housewives, there are actual people out there who are gay. Real gay men, they also like to read these stories. I found that actually, more 16 year old girls on FictionPress seem to understand this idea than published women who are in their early 30s.
I find this a sad sad thing. For some people the books they read might be the first impression they ever get up close of a gay guy… That must be so hard on guys who are approached like they are some sort of copy-woman.
Gay men are not some sort of second rank woman, stop writing them like that!!
And here I will end my rant.
Leave a comment, do you agree or disagree?