When I sat down to write a piece for the YAM Blogathon, I had to think of a topic. I hate thinking of topcis, by the way. So, I went with a common question posed to M/M authors is: WHY?
Let me sing you the song of my people.
The last time someone asked me why, it was my mechanic. Now, I love Frankie*. He is the main mechanic at the shop I take my Firebird to and we get along great. We laugh. We tease. We gang up on the others in the shop together. We’re the same age and have a lot of core values in common. And are diametrically opposite in others. But the best part of our relationship is that we can talk about those differences and he’s willing to actually listen to my WHY. And I am willing to listen to his.
So someone at the shop said; Rhys writes books and he asked what kind? Where can I get them?
I said, I write about a gay detective…and I respect you and like you but I know the content isn’t for you. He cocked his head, acknowledge that he wouldn’t read about a gay detective then asked, so why don’t you just write regular mysteries?
Regular mysteries. I answered: I do write regular mysteries. The detective just happens to be gay.
Frankie then nodded and said, yeah I can see that. I told him it was okay for him to not read what I write. It’s not for him. My books are not for everyone. Hell, my books aren’t for everyone even if they do read the genre. It’s a matter of personal taste.
I ended up talking about this conversation with a few other people (we were discussing genre likes/dislikes) and one woman piped up with that I should have convinced him to read them because he needs to be educated to be more tolerant about gays.
No, I disagreed. That is not my place. Nor would it be hers. Frankie is more than tolerant. He doesn’t give a shit if a guy is gay or not but neither would he seek out a book about a gay detective (who has sex in the books). Any more than he’d seek out a Regency romance. It holds no interest for him. He knows homosexuality makes him uncomfortable at this point in his life… because he doesn’t understand the why of it. As a heterosexual male, he doesn’t understand how a man would find another man attractive.
But I know, after having a conversation with him, he would be the first person to work to embrace his daughter or son’s homosexuality if it came to pass. Because his child comes first. He would have problems with it. He knows that. But his child comes first.
Tolerance is a two-way street. I have as much responsibility to respect and tolerate Frankie’s beliefs. Neither one of us were forcing our ideology on one another but rather we were discussing things openly and without rancor**.
Without Rancor. That is key.
As an author, I write M/M because I like the content and exploring the possibilities. I also write mysteries and old school urban fantasy because I like the style. It doesn’t mean I have an agenda to change the world to my way of thinking. It means I offer stories written for people who either want to explore the possibility of a gay detective or enjoy a story about one.
As a person, I want to learn about how someone arrived at their beliefs and the WHY of it. Just as Frankie wondered about the WHY of my writing. Both of us understand we’re different in these key ways and we’re okay with it. I’m not going to change how he feels about gay men and he’s not going to change the way I feel about writing mysteries with a gay protagonist.
See, we don’t need to. Because neither of us thinks the differences between us require intervention of any kind. We respect one another’s beliefs. We tolerate…no, I would say we embrace… that we are different.
And it’s okay that we are.
I will admit, I cannot wait for the day when my detective being gay doesn’t matter. But for right now, it’s not as important because I have the freedom to write him that way. It would be lovely if we were all mingled in the bookshelves in our genres and not separated out by sexuality.
I would like to say that about the world as well… that we are seen as individuals and not defined by who we love. But that day will come.
So I ask the people around me to be tolerant of my beliefs while at the same time, promise to respect and be tolerant of theirs. Discuss but do not seek to dominate. Embrace but do not seek to embroil.
We’ll get there. I know we will. I have faith we will. Because we try. Because we have to. Because we are every mother’s son and every father’s daughter, regardless of who we love.
Hit up the YAM site this week to see others contributing to the Blogathon. And help us celebrate our differences.
* Name changed to protect the unwary.
** Malicious resentfulness or hostility; spite. Not the creature Luke Skywalker had to kill in the pit to amuse Jabba the Hutt before they rescued Han.