I recently got a review for Hungry for Love where the reviewer said something along the lines of “I read m/m because I want to read about men; I don’t want female characters messing things up.”
This surprised me, perhaps as much as the uninitiated are surprised when I tell them the readership for gay romance is at least ¾ straight women. Women don’t want women in their gay romances? Seriously?
I put women in my novels. They have major or minor roles. They are mothers, sisters, and friends. They are sometimes wives or ex-wives or jilted brides.
But they are there.
And it still stuns me that female readers would object to their presence in gay male romance. I mean, to me, the concept feels vaguely misogynistic and downright odd when one considers the dislike is coming from women themselves.
Two of the things I strive to do in my contemporary gay romances is put the gay romance front and center. The relationship is the plot. But I also like to make the world in which those characters live real, so that the reader can be transported into the world of my characters and disappear into it for an hour or two. To my mind, anything unreal or wrong would simply jar a reader out of the story.
Hence, I put female characters in my stories, who have varying degrees of importance. Why? Because in my experience, most gay men have significant women in their lives. Because, in my experience, many gay men love women and I count myself among them. No, we do not want to hook up with them, but we do often admire them, coveting and treasuring their friendship. Myself included, most of the gay men I know have significant female friends. It would take a lot longer than this blog to do an in-depth analysis of why this is so, but I have seen the reality of it proved anecdotally in my own life again and again.
One of the first gay novels I really remember falling in love with was The Object of My Affection by Stephen McCauley. It was a love story, really, about a gay man and a single pregnant woman. It explored the deep bond that gay men and women can have, perhaps because sexual attraction is removed from the equation. Do you have a favorite gay romance that features a female character or characters? Which is it?
As a gay man who loves women (and even has crushes on some of them), I have to say that even if I do get flack for putting women in my novels, I will continue to do so. Because for me, that’s real life. And I think women have a place in my stories.
What do you think? Do you think women have a place in m/m romance? Not as the leads, of course (the men, the love interests, are always the leads) but as part of the real life and world of most gay men? Or are you of the mind that there should be a sign on the door of most m/m romances reading “No Girls Allowed?”
Rick’s Hungry for Love, released in September of this year from Dreamspinner Press, is a good example of how men and women can peacefully co-exist in the m/m universe.
Nate Tippie and Brandon Wilde are gay, single, and both hoping to meet that special man, even though fate has not yet delivered him to their doorstep. Nate’s sister, Hannah, and her kooky best friend, Marilyn, are about to help fate with that task by creating a profile on the gay dating site, OpenHeartOpenMind. The two women are only exploring, but when they need a face and body for the persona they create, they use Nate as the model.
When Brandon comes across the false profile, he falls for the guy he sees online. Keeping up the charade, Hannah begins corresponding with him, posing as Nate. Real complications begin when Brandon wants to meet Nate, but Nate doesn’t even know he’s being used in the online dating ruse. Hannah and Marilyn concoct another story and send Nate out to let the guy down gently. But when Nate and Brandon meet, the two men feel an instant and powerful pull toward each other. Cupid seems to have shot his bow, but how do Nate and Brandon climb out from under a mountain of deceit without letting go of their chance at love?
Rick R. Reed Biography and Contact
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
Visit Rick’s website at www.rickrreed.com or follow his blog at http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/. You can also like Rick on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/rickrreed. Rick always enjoys hearing from readers and answers all e-mails personally. Send him a message at firstname.lastname@example.org