What Happened To Love Is Love?
Recently there has been a little stir within the MM genre (which never happens, right?) in which a female MM author suffered backlash over an MF series because she dared to venture into those mysterious hetero waters.
Some believed she was utilizing her pre-existing MM universe for evil. Some thought she didn’t give a crap about the LGBT community in the first place, and that her MF series was proof enough (Because apparently, the MM community is the mafia. ONCE YOU’RE IN, YOU’RE IN FOR LIFE). And, some people simply don’t like MF, therefore didn’t want to see her put out something they wouldn’t enjoy.
She suffered countless comments on her promotional material that scrutinized her hard work because the people in question didn’t want to read about a woman falling in love. Seriously.
What happened to love is love?
Personally? I believe she’s an artist following her muse. Like me. Like most of us in this community.
Now, I always like to prefix my articles on the MM community with I love this place…but there’s a but. A big butt. A bubble of a but. You see, SOMETIMES, there’s a FEW people within the community that can come across as…heh…a little elitist? These are often the people that say women shouldn’t write MM, and that complain about unauthentic MM relationships in fiction (because, y’know, all MM relationships must be super Masc without any of that feelings crap crammed in there) and that like to voice off at this, that, them, you and me.
In fact, the reason I changed my name to Craig Barker, leaving T.C. Orton to die in the gutter, was because I no longer wish to be associated with “MM” fiction. Yes, I want to write LGBT characters. Yes, I love man-on-man action. Yes, I am a gay male. However, there is a certain stigma/expectation (depending how you look at it) that dictates that a self-proclaimed MM author’s work must be filled with X amount of sex between two men—plots be damned. And, if they should dare to cross over into absolutely any other genre that doesn’t give their readers more of the same, then you can bet your ass there’s going to be trouble.
Now, do I have an issue with readers who only want MM in their life? No, of course not. That’s not the problem here—the problem is the way some of these readers go about voicing their opinion on the matter.
You can’t cry open-minded, open-hearted, equality, peace and love for all in a pride march, then ridicule someone for writing about love when you get home because it’s not the kind of love you want to read about.
By all means, don’t buy a book you’re not into, but why actively hate the book? Why post all over the author’s personal group and promo material, letting her know that this isn’t what you want?
What do you expect that author to respond with? What do you hope to accomplish?
And this isn’t something limited to MM authors writing MF. This happens to MM authors who write gay young adult stories too. Sometimes they’ll get one-starred on amazon because “the book didn’t have any sex in it” despite the characters being fifteen-years-old. Sometimes contemporary MM authors will try their hand at paranormal MM, only to be flooded with comments like “Oh, I don’t read paranormal” by their fans, which, whether they intend it to be or not, is highly discouraging.
You don’t see me commenting on your crappy taste in décor in that picture of your newly decorated living room, do you? Do you want to know why? Because, regardless of my personal preferences, I can understand when someone has worked hard on something, and that, to them, this might be a big deal. So, I do that thing where I keep my thoughts to myself because I don’t want to upset someone.
And do you really want to know how these remarks make us feel as authors? Worthless. As if we’re interchangeable fictional porn distributors that, after working ourselves into panic attacks over the course of months to get these books to you, are met with one-liners such as “hot” and “sexy” and that you’re not really following us for our talent, but simply to get your next fix of MM from the nearest source.
Again, I’d like to reiterate that this is a small (but vocal) portion of the MM community. And I also think it’s worth pointing out that, as indie authors, we’re able to connect on a much more personal level with our fans, which can be absolutely fantastic… But as these incidents show, can also lead to a lot of stress.
We don’t just hear about backlash, we witness it. We don’t just hear about your grievances, we’re tagged in the damn posts. We don’t just hear that you dislike our latest book before it’s even out the door, we then go on to watch you offer alternatives to people who seem interested in our work.
It’s fucking heart breaking.
Anyway, before I head off to write my new YA series featuring absolutely no explicit content because I’m a gay man that’s more than just his sexuality and would like to see a gay protagonist make it through a story without his dick getting involved, I want to leave you with a few notes that were approved by the gay council. (Meetings are Tuesdays at 7. Bring your own quiche)
- Women can write MM and MF and still be considered allies.
- When you see an author you like trying something new, be supportive regardless of if you’re going to read their next book or not. (Alternatively, don’t say anything)
- Try to stop asking how much sex a book has in it unless the author specifically markets it as an erotic, sex-filled adventure.
- Always wipe front to back.
- Stop tagging authors in posts if you don’t have anything nice to say. Some authors have to keep a professional appearance and can’t tell you how much of an absolute twat-waffle you’re being, but I will.
Of course, this is just one gay’s opinion and is the start of a dialogue. If you have anything to add on the complexities surrounding MM author-reader relationships, feel free to comment below.