This past week there has been a lot going on in both the LGBT community and the gay romance writers community. If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw some of my reactions to the ongoing discussion. It revolved around one topic in particular: the ‘gay for you’ trope.
An incredibly popular trope in the m/m romance/erotica genre, it has been staunchly defended by those who enjoy writing and reading it while at the same time much of the queer community has expressed concern over it as being multi-queerphobic.
It’s been debated far and wide on the internet and I’m not going to get into it here. I will say that I personally loathe the trope for a long list of reasons, but instead of getting into that I am going to show you how to make the trope work.
That’s right. It can work. I promise you. Though the ‘gay’ part might need rewording.
First let’s take a look at the trope itself. What does ‘gay for you’ mean? Straight cis male falls in love/lust with another gay/straight cis male.
Hmm, okay. Well if you are straight and then suddenly find this one specific person who is your same gender attractive *surprise* you aren’t straight and you never were! Welcome to queerdom!
But-but, yes they are! You exclaim pointing to all the straightness of your character.
Shh, it’s okay. There are many people out there who thought they were straight and ended up being queer. Sexual exploration can be on ongoing and fluid thing. Shoot, I thought for years I was a lesbian (mostly because people said I was), then ace, then learned about demisexuality. However, most gay men I’ve met, talk to, read about, knew they were gay since they were young. I’m talking like from their teens and sometimes even younger. You learn pretty early on who you find sexually attractive. Well, most of us.
What do I mean by that? Well, not everyone who is queer is gay or lesbian. Some of us don’t find anyone sexually attractive. (gasp)
Let me use myself as an example. I am 37, soon to be 38 years old. My entire life I have found only two people sexually attractive who happened to be different genders. And no—I am not bisexual. I am demisexual. I cannot and do not feel sexual attraction unless I have a deep emotional bond with a person and this doesn’t mean I’m hot for all my friends. Doesn’t work that way.
But that’s just me. There are some bisexual people who have only found one or two people of their same gender sexually attractive. They are still bisexual.
So what does this have to do with the trope.
Everything. There is a big issue in the entertainment industry with never looking beyond the G & L and basically erasing every other orientation out there, not to mention trans persons. Which is incredibly frustrating and very sad because the variety brings you so, so many opportunities for incredible stories.
This trope wouldn’t even be an issue if the character came out as bisexual, demisexual, pansexual or gray-asexual. All of these orientations would neatly explain why a character is attracted to someone of their same gender when they never have been before. One or two sentences is all it takes. Please allow me to demonstrate:
Reilly sat down next to Timothy in the booth. His best friend wriggled over to give him more room.
“What’s up Rei? You look a bit worried.”
Reilly shrugged and slid down in the seat. “You remember Quintin?”
“Yeah, he works at the cafe on the square. I almost asked him out. Why?”
“I don’t think I’m as straight as I thought.”
Timothy chuckled but quickly sobered. “Wait … really?”
“I don’t get it Tim … I’ve never … I’ve always thought I liked girls. I know I’m not gay.”
Timothy leaned over and bumped Reilly’s shoulder, “So maybe you’re not, maybe you are bi.”
It really is seriously that easy. In fact there really are no excuses beyond ignorance and laziness. And I know you are not like that.
So instead of ‘gay for you’ maybe ‘hot for you’ or another choice of wording might help us to be more inclusive. Just in case you need help here is a link to my worksheet and so helpful links.
Going Over the Rainbow: The Trope Trap
Going Over the Rainbow: Moving Beyond the LG in LGBT.
Going Over the Rainbow: Show and Tell
The Mythical Unicorn of LGBTQIA Novels (Or, the A doesn’t stand for Ally.)
Do you have any questions for me regarding asexuality/demisexuality or the ‘gay for you’ trope? Which orientation would you like me to feature next month?
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