Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Erastes, Beecroft, and . . . Anne Rice?

Clicking on the post title will take you to an enlightening and commendably candid interview with Erastes and Alex Beecroft at Out magazine. I was fascinated. I silently cheered. Then I admired the china. (Honestly, I did.)

What brave and articulate authors! I feel honored even to be in the margins of the same fiction community. How many female writers and readers of slash fiction and m/m romance, I wonder, secretly identify not only with but as gay men? My guess is, far more than people realize. I'd love to see a study of this phenomenon. [Edited to add: I've looked into this, and apparently I'm behind the times. Wiki has an entry here, and it appears the subject has indeed been studied and discussed. But how extensively or scientifically, I have no idea.]

When I was still in my twenties, a boyfriend told me, "You're the only woman I've ever known who wants to be a gay man." My current SO is befuddled and a bit snarky about my love of gay fiction and porn. Me? I don't quite understand this crooked river of gender fluidity, and I've never had any desire to undergo transformative surgery, but I do sure as hell identify with male homosexuality. I just don't worry about it. Instead, I try to funnel that mindset into my fiction.

What added even more stun to stunning was an interview with Anne Rice in the same magazine, and how some of it related to what Alex and Erastes had to say. For example:

I have no consciousness of being a particular gender. It gets me into trouble all the time. I’m constantly reminded that I’m a specific gender. When I rejoined Christianity and discovered the tremendous amount of emphasis they put on gender, it was just jarring.

Anne's responses to all the questions were thoughtful and made eminent sense, even if one isn't as devout a believer in/follower of Jesus as she is -- although, I should note, she's divorced herself from all organized religion. This interview combined with an anecdote about her generosity, which I read on one of my m/m groups, has instilled me with a new respect for her. (And keep in mind her celebrated, bestselling author-son, Christopher Rice, is gay.)

Final note: Regardless of Ms. Rice's opinion of her books, I still believe Cry to Heaven was the most extraordinary novel she ever wrote.

Read these interviews. Seriously. They're eye-opening.


Jason said...

You know, KZ, I found myself a little shocked at how the columnist reacted to Erastes' and Alex's claim of having an inner gay man. I have heard this so often from both the m/m readers groups and also from my circle of friends that it wouldnt make me bat an eye. I wonder how in touch these journalists really are.


wren boudreau said...

Hiya KZ!

I read those articles, too. And I agree with you that Alex and Erastes were wonderful! The article was enlightening to me as it made me realize that yes, some part of me identifies as a gay man. I'd just not articulated it before. It's relatively new for me, proving again that gender is fluid, especially when we open ourselves up to that idea.

Like Jason, I was a little shocked with the reporter, then just annoyed with some of her questions/responses. Our authors still appeared articulate and classy, though, which was great.

Chris said...

Erastes commented a bit about the article a few days ago on one of my m/m romance groups and, apparently, the next issue of the magazine will contain a correction about the wording on the cover, since neither she nor Alex exactly identify as straight.

Like Jase, I had to shake my head at the interviewer's tone regarding how the authors identified. An ex of mine described dating/living with me being like hanging out/living with a guy, so... :)

K. Z. Snow said...

Jase, how are you doing, cutie? It's a delight to see you here! {{cuddle-hug}}

Thinking that people should automatically embrace the gender they were born into is narrow-minded in the extreme for anybody claiming to be a journalist. The attitude might be mildly annoying or offensive to women who harbor and cherish "an inner gay man," but it must be severely hurtful to trans individuals who suffer on a daily basis because their bodies don't reflect their psyches.

I really do wish somebody, somewhere would devise a poll related to "gender disaffection" (for lack of a better term). The results, especially within the m/m fiction community, would be pretty damned interesting.

K. Z. Snow said...

WREN! What's up, snookums? I've missed you!

I wouldn't be surprised if the majority of women writing gay romance--at least, those of us who feel most at home in the genre--have some degree of longing to experience loving a man as a man. And there's no doubt in my mind we're all fervid believers in GLBTQ rights.

I think that's one of the reasons female authors get irked when uppity nay-sayers question the "authenticity" of our voices. They have no clue what our backgrounds are, and even less what's going on inside us. At the very least, we feel a profound connection to our characters and themes.

K. Z. Snow said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Chris. I'm looking forward to that "correction."

And welcome to the Chicks with Perceptive Exes Club. :-D

wren boudreau said...'s nice to be missed :)

You are so right when you say:
"They have no clue what our backgrounds are, and even less what's going on inside us." I think that's why it's so hard to explain when we're asked why we write what we write. How do you describe those innermost feelings, where you are a woman and a man and everything in between?

K. Z. Snow said...

That's why I was struck by Anne Rice's comment, especially considering it appeared in the same mag. As Jason implied, there must be a lot of women who feel this way. (Damned if I understand the biochemistry of it, but I do know how I feel.)

Tam said...

I was surfing my tublr dashboard (shut up) last night and I follow someone named Sugar on a Stick and he posted the excerpt and was quite shocked himself that us straight girls were writing/reading gay smut. :-) But he posted several snippets from the interview and lots of people follow his Tumblr (mostly nekkid boys) so maybe a few people were educated.

It was a very interesting article. I'm not sure I associate myself with a gay man or not. I don't really think about things like that much. I grew up a tom boy on a farm and I was never a girly girl, but what does that mean? Who the hell knows. My head hurts already. ;-)

I like what I like, I like what keeps me amused and entertained. I'll not try to put it in a bigger social context at this point. I'll leave that to the philosophers.

I'm thanksful that unlike Alex I've never had to reconcile my tastes and beliefs with a counter viewpoint. Even though I grew up in a small town in Western Canada, what little religious involvement we had was in the most liberal church in the area. Now? It's a non-issue for this heathen, I'm all about the golden rule. That seems to work well if people would just apply it with a bit more zeal.

K. Z. Snow said...

I've heard so much about Tumblr (and seen so many pix from there -- shut up *g*), I really must check it out.

"I'm thankful that unlike Alex I've never had to reconcile my tastes and beliefs with a counter viewpoint."

Same here, Tam. Golden Rule all the way.

Anonymous said...

Well. KZ, I've come to your blog long way around; I'm a first time reader and writer here. Alex's book False Colors was the first M/M book I read. I've read nothing but M/M books all summer. My husband hasn't questioned it at all and he has certainly benefited from the "good" parts of the books!

However, I'm sitting at my kitchen table after reading what Alex and Erastes had to say, and I'm in tears. It explained so much about ME. I'm 52 years old and I remember always wanting to be a boy, I always wanted to be Michael. Anyway, the important part is that when I started to read the M/M books it became obvious to me that I clearly identified with gay men. I felt pretty alone. Thank God I'm not.

This is a great article and well-timed. Thank you.

wren boudreau said...

Patty - it's a comfort to know that you're not alone at least. Most of the m/m 'community' (is that the word for it?) is welcoming, understanding and tries to follow the golden rule.

K. Z. Snow said...

Hi, Patty! You're very welcome.

First, let me say how lucky you are to have a tolerant husband. That makes a big difference when it comes to self-acceptance.

No, you're hardly alone. And there certainly isn't anything "weird" about you, or there wouldn't be so many women who feel the way you do.

I think this whole "hidden" segment of the female population has been converging through m/m fiction, whether it be as appreciative readers or devoted writers. I know that when I turned from writing straight romance to gay romance, I suddenly felt at home. I felt in my element. And it made sense, given my background. So I've finally come to a full acceptance of this gay-man aspect of myself.

People lose sight of the fact that human nature and sexuality are enormously rich and varied. There really should be nothing shocking about women like Alex and Erastes and hundreds of others in our "community."

Thanks so much for sharing your own experience. Please drop by again!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Wren and KZ. As you noted, most of us have very strong opinions about church, marriage, and GLBT rights. After reading the article and your blog, it all just clicked into place for me. I'm very appreciative of having a place where I could .... "come out" safely? What's inside of my head is not something I would ever actually discuss with my husband, I don't think. He's just great about the fact that I've always been athletic (we met working out together), I only wear dresses and LOW heels under duress, and I like M/M books. He asks me about the stories, who the characters are, and about the authors. My husband is a keeper. :-)

And yes, I'll be back.

Kris said...

I just read the article and one that was almost a follow up to it in Gawker.

I have a great deal of admiration for Erastes and Alex Beecroft for the honesty and openness with which they dealt with the reporter and her questions, especially about their gender and sexuality, but at the same time both articles made me a wee bit angry at their derisive tones.

It really made me wonder if there would ever be a day that m/m romance isn't tarred with the pron or weird brush.

Chris said...

Kris: Did you read gehayi's follow up? Very, very nicely done.

Kris said...

Chris: I hadn't so thanks very much for that link. It was an awesome response.

K. Z. Snow said...

That was one impressive takedown, thorough and reasoned. The points were irrefutable.

But OMFG, that simple-minded mess of a Gawker article! I hadn't seen that until now. A barn dance with insulting phraseology tripping over pop psychology colliding with misinformation.

It astonishes me how unhip hip people can be.

~ the Horny Lady Writer Who Pens Homo Bodice Rippers for Suburban Ladies Who've Given Up Paperbacks with Fabio on the Cover Because They're Now Obsessed with Gay Sex


K. Z. Snow said...

Why doesn't somebody who's actually READ some of our books do one of these interviews?

Kris said...

KZ: "Why doesn't somebody who's actually READ some of our books do one of these interviews?"

Thoroughly agree.