Sunday, November 16, 2014

LOVE IS LOVE ~ a sex-positive view on insta-love and gay romance writers

Aloha everyone! Thanks so much to Grace Duncan for setting up this great idea on a sex-positive blog hop! :-) 

Lately there’s been a fair few scuffles over two things which I see popping up in all sorts of blogs and comments.

One is the moans and groans about women writers of gay romances. 

The other is the insta-love thing that seems to stick in some people’s craw.

There’s a lot of "not realistic" stuff thrown about over "insta-love." And it only seems to apply to m/m romances. Why? People DO fall in love instantly all the time. If it hasn’t happened to you in your life, I’m not sure whether to say you’re lucky or not lucky. I’m going with NOT. Even Shakespeare knew about love at first sight. 

I think about descriptions from WWII, or from men I’ve met in this lifetime, or have read about. We often hear,  “…the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew she was the one, I was going to marry that girl. It was love at first sight.”

“When I met her, it was instant kapow, right between the eyes. I just fell in love with her.”

Often people have a soul connection from another lifetime. So when they meet again, they’re reconnecting from the past, recognizing each other again. Of course, they would love instantly.

Also culturally things move differently in different countries. I come from New Zealand and we don’t "date" for years. We go on a "couple of dates" with someone and we’re either going out with them or not. We might not fall in love with them instantly, but we do know whether there’s a connection there.

I’ve fallen in love with someone kapow the first day I laid eyes on them and also grown in love with someone. I actually think I’d take the kapow kind. I can’t see that either produced a better relationship funnily enough and you’d think one would work better, but that hasn’t been my experience.

We fall in love instantly with lots of things. Why not a partner?

The moment I saw that car, I just fell in love with it…

The moment I laid eyes on that ginger kitten, I knew I had to take him home.

The moment I walked in that house, I knew I had to have it.

On my first bite, I fell in love with the dish, I had to get the recipe.

Is it really so odd? So unusual? I don’t think so.

I think we’re geared to love. On a heart and soul level, love is such a binding force in the Universe that we naturally gravitate toward it.

And when we recognize that connection to another kindred spirit—we take it.

Because love is love and it doesn’t always come along in several varieties to choose from like say a car, or a dress or a selection of cheeses. Often we only get presented with one love at a time. Sometimes not, of course... :-) 

Which leads me to the women writers on gay romance thing.

Like it or not, writers have always written about things they know nothing or little about, but are drawn to for some reason.

Q: “Why did you write about a past life set in WWII?”

A: “I’ve always been interested in that period of history.”

Q: “Why did you write about the Civil Rights Movement?”

A: “I’ve always hated prejudice. I wanted to say something about that particular incident and highlight what went on for people.”

And the list goes on…

We write about what interests us often as writers.

I write the characters that pop into my head, often unasked, uninvited. They just turn up, noisy, fervent, raiding my booze cabinet, clattering around in my kitchen, until I have no choice, but to sit down and listen to their story.

And once they start and I’m intrigued, I find myself reaching quietly for a pen and paper to take notes.

Sometimes a story is going in one direction and then a rogue character turns up and hijacks the whole thing. My first full length novel Henry and Isolde due out in Spring next year was like that. It started out as a "nice wee romance," until "bloody Charlie" turned up. He was nicknamed that by me because he wanted to be in the relationship with Henry and Izzy. I just said no. You can’t. People won’t like that. What will the readers think? (I had no idea at the time I started writing that, that people WOULD like that.)

I talked to my mentor. He said, give him one scene, let him run with it. It’ll probably satisfy him. It didn’t. Four books down the track…and Charlie’s almost the main character. LOL.

We women like male/male romances in the same way we like male/male sex.

Why? Because we like men too.

And generally I think we’re gravitating more toward whole men. Men who show emotions, aren’t scared to cry or feel afraid. We want a more "feminized" man. I don’t mean an effeminate male. I mean an actualized man who shows he’s human. They’re very attractive to many women. For years too, we’ve often felt left on the outside on the seeming chasm that are men’s emotional states, thoughts, and feelings. We WANT to know men are human, feel, get hurt, get emotional, all the things that are often not deeply seen in m/f romances. Although I write my men that way because I have known real men and I like them enormously.

Men that don’t cry or show emotions scare the shit out of me.

We women I think too are doing our small part in gay awareness, relationship equality, slowly fighting homophobia. We ripple out into layers and layers of society. Afterall we do know what it's like to be an oppressed minority. 

In my Big Fat Greek Wedding, there’s a scene where the mother says something like, “The man, he is the head of the family, but the woman…she is the neck, she turn the head of the man.”

We have that influence across the board.

I see women authors and women in general supporting gay rights on fb more than the men sometimes. And I think we do that in so many ways as women. What we do ripples out from a single person to a group. The majority of women are still the larger group or percentage that bring up children. We have a great deal of influence in the world. We can teach our kids to hate or teach them to love.

Throughout history, we women have quietly influenced all sorts of things:

Back in 1848, a group of women started their fight for women’s right in Seneca, New York. Stanton, one of the chief organizers drafted a “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions,” that echoed the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal.”

In 1941, Eleanor Roosevelt helped open some doors and endorse the first black airmen to serve in the US military as pilots—The Tuskegee Airmen. She was immensely interested in their cause and insisted on flying with their leader.

Although the Secret Service was anxious about the ride, Chief Civilian Flight Instructor Charles Alfred Anderson, known today as “The Father of Black Aviation,” piloted Mrs. Roosevelt over the skies of Alabama for over an hour.
Flying with Anderson demonstrated the depth of Eleanor Roosevelt’s support for black pilots and the Institute’s training program. Press coverage of her adventure in flight helped advocate for the competency of these pilots and boosted the Institute's visibility. Roosevelt was so impressed with the program that she established and maintained a long-term correspondence with some of the airmen.

Back in 1955 on an Alabama bus, one woman sparked the Montgomery bus boycott that lasted for 381 days and brought about massive reforms when she said NO.

In her autobiography, My Story Rosa Parks said:
People always say that I didn't give up my seat because I was tired, but that isn't true. I was not tired physically, or no more tired than I usually was at the end of a working day. I was not old, although some people have an image of me as being old then. I was forty-two. No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.[23]

On the day she went to trial:
— December 5, 1955 — the WPC distributed the 35,000 leaflets. The handbill read,
"We are...asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial ... You can afford to stay out of school for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off the buses Monday."[28]
It rained that day, but the black community persevered in their boycott. Some rode in carpools, while others traveled in black-operated cabs that charged the same fare as the bus, 10 cents. Most of the remainder of the 40,000 black commuters walked, some as far as 20 miles (32 km).

Can you imagine walking in the rain and often the oppressive sweltering humidity of Alabama for 381 days—that's over a year? Getting to work exhausted, already foot sore, hot and sweating like a pig, then doing a full day’s work for awful wages and walking home again?

It changed things though.
One woman…started a spark…
Changes DO happen when people speak out, say what's not right, stand up for what they believe in, write about, blog about, get on social media...

We forget that once:  
We women were not allowed to vote and had few rights. 
It was legal to have signs in windows of businesses saying "No blacks, negroes, colored allowed." 
It was illegal for gay people to marry like any other human being. 

And despite being hetero myself and a woman to boot, I’m still happy to be counted as one woman who cares. I hope that possibly something I write will bring about a small change somewhere for someone regarding gay relationships, rights and equality. I hope that I research well and am sensitive to the gay men I write about and love. 

Because love is love, no matter what form it comes in. 

And I am tired of people saying otherwise.

Aloha everyone! Meg :-)

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  1. What an amazing and wonderful post. These points are all something I've thought of before but I've never seen them put together so eloquently in one post before. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Aloha Sarah, :-)

    Thanks so much for reading and your great comments! :-) I appreciate that so much!!

    Its nice to know someone else has had the same thoughts. :-)

    Thanks and aloha Meg :-)

  3. Wonderful post, Meg! Much food for thought!

  4. Aloha Alexa! Thanks so much for reading and commenting. :-)

    I appreciate you coming over here. :-) Aloha Meg :-)