Book clubs, group discussions, blogs, all kinds of stuff about M/M and F/F romances are popping up everywhere. There’s obviously a market for it.
This is what I think.
Although hetero romances are fun and make us feel good, there’s a bit more to a gay romance: it’s against the odds. It’s harder, more difficult, not as easily accepted, shunned and judged. If the characters make an effort, despite the adversity, to be together, it makes us feel even better.
Everyone knows how a good romance story is built: A and B fall in love. A and B encounter a difficulty. A and B work it out. A and B live happily ever after because true love always prevails.
When A and B are two guys or two girls, they’re already starting with a difficulty. In this day and age, even if we’re better about it than, say, 50 years ago, it’s still hard to be gay. Depending on where you live (if you’re gay I hope you don’t live in Uganda) it can be life-threatening.
To see two characters live through it and succeed, have a happy life, adopt kids, whatever, even if it’s two young adults who just come to terms with their orientation and decide to live a gay life with the one they love, they don’t even need to encounter a typical difficulty for us to root for them.
And it’s sexy for women to see men in a vulnerable, soft light, even if it’s all hidden behind a macho, virile, very-male badass. For some, the more the better.
The fact that we can now read books in public on our e-readers without anyone seeing the title or the book cover helps a lot, I’m sure. I remember being transfixed by a girl reading “The Story of O” in the bus when I was a teen. I was embarrassed on her behalf! Now? You can read fifty shades of whatever kink turns you on and no one is the wiser.
Also, if we heteros like to read romances about couples like us, guess what gays like it too! Especially young adults who want to find literature that will speak to them about what they feel. We need more teen books about gay life. We owe it to our young ones who need to feel they’re part of something and that something is good, healthy and accepted.
Live long and prosper, gay romance.