When J.A. Rock emailed me to ask whether this site could be part of a blog tour about the Loose id wedding collection called I Do – Unless I Don’t, I indicated that we didn’t do blog tours 😮 but if she wanted to write a post about gay weddings, that would be great. 😀 So, not being one who is easily daunted, she said she was up to the challenge and here’s the result which I’m sure you’ll enjoy as much as I did. The Loose id collection will be released starting tomorrow.
When I asked if I could guest and Wave suggested writing a post about weddings in m/m romance, I said sure, because it behooves me to commit to things before I think about what they actually entail. This way I never get tripped up by my own limitations. It’s like cramming a bunch of food into my stomach before my body has time to realize it’s full.
The problem is I’ve never read an m/m romance about a wedding. Or any romance about a wedding. Part of that could be that I read almost exclusively BDSM romance, and books like My Best Friend’s Collaring Ceremony and Always a Witness to a Slave Contract, Never a Slave haven’t been written yet (Next project. Check.). But also, weddings don’t particularly interest me.
Maybe that’s not totally true, because I did write a wedding book, and it was wildly fun. It got me thinking about what does interest me about weddings—namely, the backdrop they can provide for mayhem, as well as what the institution of marriage says about people, society, and the way we define and redefine our relationships and values.
Writers of LGBTQ romance sometimes have to navigate tricky territory. In the real world, homophobia exists. It’s unavoidable, undeniable, and right now in the U.S., one of its most prominent incarnations is the “debate” about gay marriage. Don’t ask me how there can ever be a debate over whether people should have equal rights. But apparently there is. The, uh, compelling counterargument to allowing gays to marry is that we would have to “redefine” marriage. Which we’ve already done. Many, many times. Like when we decided marriage no longer meant women were chattel. And when we decided being married to someone wasn’t blanket permission to rape them.
Even in states where gay marriage is legal, it seems difficult for a same-sex couple to get married without politics coming into play. Each same-sex wedding becomes a small victory for equal rights; each failed same-sex marriage a statistic for opponents to cite. A same-sex union isn’t going to be recognized everywhere in the country, and obtaining a divorce may prove impossible for residents of a state that doesn’t recognize their marriage. There’s even some backlash from those within the LGBTQ community who believe gays shouldn’t want to get married because marriage is an outmoded, heterosexual institution, and that to participate in it is to attempt to imitate the hetero norm.
But romance is fantasyland. So can we create worlds where LGBTQ characters never encounter homophobia? Where a gay wedding never gets political? Where a committed, long-term same-sex relationship isn’t considered an act of hetero-conformity (and, conversely, relationships that are not long-term or monogamous aren’t seen as an assault to societal values)? Of course we can. Is it irresponsible, unrealistic, or imperceptive? I don’t think any more so than the myriad other liberty-taking conventions of romance. There’s something to be said for going Gandhi and demonstrating the change we wish to see in the world.
With The Brat-tastic Jayk Parker, my first stab at a book featuring a wedding, acknowledging the current political atmosphere gave me an entry point into the characters’ anxieties about their wedding. I didn’t want politics to become the focus, but I wanted to explore how politics forced the characters to confront some of the deeper, more personal, and more universal issues concerning marriage.
Yes, Jayk wonders if he and Amon can get married without it being perceived as a “statement.” And yes, Amon is hurt when his mother urges him not to invite his conservative aunt and uncle to the wedding. But their real fear isn’t what society thinks about two men getting married—it’s how marriage might redefine who and what they are to each other. Why, in other words, get married at all, when they have a good thing going sans hyphens, and marriage seems so…final? That’s not a gay concern, that’s an everybody concern.
And I think the answer is that people like to celebrate. When we have big, bold moments of passion, achievement, and revelation, we like to see them recognized. And any relationship—gay, straight, poly, open, monogamous, kinky, intercultural—requires enough work that maintaining it can feel like an achievement on par with the birth of flight. Jayk and Amon are proud of what they’ve built together, of the years they’ve spent loving, supporting, and not-murdering each other, and they want to share that.
Jayk also wants an excuse to have cake.
I’m more activist than partier, so I’d love to read some great fiction that explores the political aspect of gay marriage. But I also like that fiction can serve as a vantage point to an ideal future, where gay marriage is just freaking called marriage, and where marriage belongs to everyone, and it’s not playing hetero dress up to participate in it. And where the reason you don’t want to invite Aunt Kathy and Uncle Dan to the wedding isn’t that the relatives aren’t down with the G-A-Y, but that Aunt Kathy will inevitably have too much reception wine and start spilling about her experimental new bunion treatment while Uncle Dan not-so-discreetly wraps the hors d’ oeuvres in a napkin for a later-snack.
In both fiction and RL, I like to see us acknowledging the politics and prejudice, challenging the unjust system, but focusing on the celebration.
If you like weddings, be sure to check out the rest of Loose Id’s big gay wedding party. These m/m books are part of LI’s I Do…Unless I Don’t collection this June:
Cassandra Gold – Always a Groomsman
Dev Bentham – Bread, Salt, and Wine
Dominique Frost – The Bitter Rednesses of Love
J.A.Rock Contact Information