I apologise in advance: as this is a questioning article, soliciting your views, it follows that it contains a hell of a lot of question marks. Sorry about that. So, where were we? Ah yes. As a gay male myself, I’ve yet to fix my opinion (if I ever do, I might not) on straight women writing erotica populated by men having sex with men (as opposed to fiction that includes gay characters among others). Is it right to call it gay male erotica? Is it for gay men to read? Why write it if you’re not gay? How does a straight female author answer the criticism that she’s never known the closet, its impact on the gay psyche when young?
Gay erotica, as I understand the genre, is written by gay men for gay men and that’s almost like an invisible contract of knowing, between gay writer and gay reader. Whether the writing is any good or not, there’s an authenticity involved. If you write gay male erotica and you’re a woman, there is no invisible contract. Well, there might be, with other women, but it’s one gay males haven’t signed up for. I am presuming the women who write erotica inhabited by gay men (calling it gay male erotica, as is common, bugs me—because, surely, gay male erotica is by gay men for gay men?) write it primarily for other women and not for gay men at all. So what’s the thrill, what’s the draw? I mean, I’ve never heard of a single out-as-gay male writer devoting himself to producing heterosexual or lesbian erotica. I have, however, heard of straight women who pump out one gay male sex-fest after another, with devoted female followings for their work. What’s going on here? Explain it to me. Please. Because I simply do not understand. Are these women yearning for greater sensitivity or more foreplay from their heterosexual male partners? I’m not saying they are. I’m asking. In the same vein, is gay sex somehow safe for women to explore in literary terms? I’m interested in knowing, in this as a phenomenon—because, judging by the success of these books, a phenomenal genre it is.
When sex of any kind is part of a wider narrative that isn’t erotica, I reckon many of us can and do get away with walking on the literary wild side. I wouldn’t write F2F or M2F stuff other than as components of a bigger story, though. I’d feel I was presuming too much, trespassing if you like on the sacred ground of others. Let the straights write about their straight sexual fantasies. They know better than I do about such matters. You can research all you want but if you don’t feel it, if you don’t have the grounding in actual experience, I’m not sure you can get it right if you, pardon the expression, bang on for a whole book as opposed to a few scenes.
Besides, there are plenty of erotica authors of all persuasions who really do know what they’re writing about—and whether it’s your natural inclination or not, you can always support genuine gay and lesbian authors. I mean, if you’re a straight woman and like to read hot gay sex stories, why not read about passionate male encounters written by actual gay men who know what it feels like, smells like, tastes like, what emotions it engenders, what urges are provoked? Is there something different in the writing styles, something about the real deal, as it were, that puts you off when set against a female-penned fantasy of two men? I know that heterosexual pornography often turns women off, with its depiction of women by men being less than appealing to women viewers. I’ve met straight women who watch gay pornography because (a) it’s all good-looking men and (b) there are no women, in whom they have no interest sexually. Is that something close to an understanding of these books and their market?
Feel free to express your views below, respectfully. Remember, we never stop learning in our lives and this is one controversial topic I’d like to gain a bit more understanding of.