Gay men and how I like them best

14 Apr

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 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!!Β 

And here I will end my rant.

Leave a comment, do you agree or disagree?

Read on!



10 responses to “Gay men and how I like them best

  1. pephredo

    April 14, 2012 at 5:08 am

    This post rocks! Thank you for writing it. I’ve read through–or, rather, tried to read some of the gay fiction out there, the kind written by the bored housewives, and I’ve rarely been able to finish. As a gay man, it’s almost an insult the way we’re depicted in these stories. Not that I’m implying those writers mean any disrespect, of course, but it reminds me a lot of the way gay men were often depicted in popular media (when they were) not so long ago. Sometimes we’re still shown as the stereotypical swishy queen with no backbone. Stereotypes that did more harm than good. You are so right when, talking about young people coming out, you say, “the books they read might be the first impression they ever get up close of a gay guy.” I know I looked for role models when I came out. Hopefully they find better than the bored housewife brand of “gay” fiction.

    Also, I’m definitely going to check out the authors you listed as good. πŸ˜€

    • Kia Zi Shiru

      April 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Thank you for your kind reply and your reblog.

  2. pephredo

    April 14, 2012 at 5:18 am

    Reblogged this on Somesuch Nonsense and commented:
    Kia is spot on when talking about a large part of gay fiction these days. A lot of it is written by bored housewives who think that, just because they’re women who have sex with men, they’re able to write a convincing gay male character. Well, it’s not true. Most of their stories end up coming off as these wishy-washy gay male characters who act like teenage girls more than men. It’s almost an insult. In her post, Kia talks about this topic, and does so very well. Enjoy!

  3. Red Haircrow

    April 16, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I appreciate your posting, Kia. Most of my fiction is far from delicate both in content and theme, and some would be considered horror or psychological erotica. Others, like upcoming titles heavily involve subject matter such as child sex abuse, drug and sexual addictions, which are based on facets on my own life. So if someone is going to come looking for “delicate”, they might justifiably be horrified. I really write across genre, different characters and settings in both fiction and non-fiction, whatever moves me at the time.

    I know you probably didn’t mean it as such, but I must admit my Apache warrior heritage was bemused at that description of “delicate” regarding my personality. We just don’t feel the need of an outward show of what we are. If you have to talk about how much of a man you are or act out to prove something, be rough or whatever, to us it shows there is some thought of deficiency there in the man’s mind in the first place.

    I think it surprises people, and some choose to take offense from it, but I don’t read m/m romance per se anymore and rarely read gay fiction labeled as such although I often enough read work which may have a gay theme or character. The story itself has to totally appeal to me. As a young person I also looked for material representative of gay life, and I found some good stuff that I liked, but as time passed and a new style and movement came on the scene, more female writers, I found most of it did not at all represent me or my life as a gay person accurately. The amount of stereotypes just left me cold. So basically, I tried got dissatisfied and returned to my first loves: sci-fi and fantasy or military non-fiction and history.

    My own article, Some of the comments are particularly telling, which were given by other authors.

    • Kia Zi Shiru

      April 16, 2012 at 9:01 pm

      hmmm, I was wondering why I hadn’t seen that post before, though looking at the date, that was the exact day I moved to the UK, that is probably why πŸ˜‰

      I had a hard time describing your work, but delicate came closest. It isn’t sweet, but it shows love for your characters and they feel alive. You feel they have a past. I found delicate to be the word that best described that feeling you give. All your work shows that same dedication and love for what you write. That is what I tried to describe. (and I’m going to use the cop-out that I’m not a native English speaker, so my association with some words might be totally different from what others feel.)

      I’m always scared when sharing Black Sheep with people, I know on most websites I will attract mostly female readers and although I’m fine with that I’m not writing for them.
      Black Sheep has been a struggle for me at parts because although a lot happens there is a thin line between being dramatic and melodramatic, and especially when it comes to men.
      I’ve had men tell my my story is too feminine and I’ve had men tell me my story is fine the way it is, they could recognise themselves in one or two characters and the rest was believable.
      I know it won’t appeal to everyone, I am very aware of that. None of my characters struggle with their sexuality or anything of that sort, they are strong within themselves, but what they are struggling with is a past and a present, and in some cases a future.

      So yeah, I am scared of how people perceive my work (as a decent piece of fiction of which the characters are male and in love or like a rip-off of “real” gay fiction), but usually I shrug and go on with the story. It is not about my characters being gay, it is about them dealing with life.

      Fun to see I’ve sort of got the same background in reading though, I am an avid fan of fantasy, and have read some sci-fi. But there only are so many hours in a day, or a week, or a year.
      Although my first story I was writing was actually a sci-fi, and I might actually re-write it since the story line wasn’t a problem, the language (Dutch) and my skill of the language (crap) is a problem πŸ˜›
      Hmmm, I think I might actually have a story for CampNaNo (summer edition of NaNoWriMo) πŸ˜‰

      • Red Haircrow

        April 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm

        I am not native speaker of English either. I totally got that, and understood what you might have meant. I have the very same sometimes in speaking or reading. I actually get in regular trouble with my professors because they tell me my word choice is not English. Then I tell them, er, I’m not English, so what?

        As you say, for me also, I write as I write. I do not write for anyone in particular, men or women or anyone in between. I write what I need to express or as the characters present themselves to me. I say what they want me to write out for them. They tell me themselves and their stories, and I share it. Sometimes the stories are based on my own life, and a character may reflect me as friends know “me”, but some are a surprise to me too!

        As the motto of my small indie label, β€œDance above the surface of the world. Let your thoughts lift you into creativity that is not hampered by opinion.”
        β€” Red Haircrow

        Old saying, a bit vulgar, but very, very applicable. “Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one.” πŸ™‚

        Write as you feel to write, and even I say this to other authors who may have perceived censure from me. I may not agree with what they write or how they write characters, but it is totally their choice and I support that.

  4. Leo

    April 17, 2012 at 1:38 am

    I totally agree. While I do not read a lot of gay fiction or M/M books, I do find it offensive when the men are written to act like girls. I love being a man, and I like men. πŸ˜‰ peace

  5. Kelly Hitchcock (@KellyHitchcock)

    April 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    Nicely done post! Nobody likes archetypes.

    • Kia Zi Shiru

      April 23, 2012 at 5:14 pm

      Thank you. I’m glad this post seems to resonate with so many people πŸ™‚

  6. Pingback: Kia's blog

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