GRL or GayRomLit: If You’re Going, Here are Some Ideas on How to Tell Folks Where You’re Going

March 12, 2016

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Since today is the day registration opens for GRL, I thought this post was appropriate. It’s also appropriate as talking points for telling people why you love gay romance.

I once overheard some people talking about what they tell friends and family about their attendance at GRL, a retreat, as we all know, for lovers of gay romance. For a reason that’s alien to me, some of the people I overheard felt the need to not be totally open about the event they were attending. As a gay man who’s been out of the closet now almost more years than he was in, the secrecy is a bit hard to understand, but I guess there are still people out there who A. care what someone else thinks about how they spend their off time or B. there are people (like, say, maybe a teacher at a parochial grade school) who knows their association with ‘gay’ literature might be frowned upon.

Whatever the reason, I offer the following to help you decide what to say when people ask you about where you’re going and what you’ll be doing when you attend GRL.

For the straight folks in your life who have never heard of m/m romance

Now, for those of you who are open about where you’re going and people who don’t know your tastes in reading ask something like, “Gay romance? Why gay romance? You’re not gay, are you?” This is such a silly question, as if we have to confine our reading tastes to only who we are. Reading a book with African-American characters and you’re white? Why? Reading a story that’s about aliens from Mars and you’re not one? Why on Earth?

When you put it that way, you begin to see what a silly question it is. It would be like me, as a gay man, saying I don’t read stories with straight characters. I’m not straight, so how could a book about straight people possibly interest me?

Because I’m human! Because we’re all human! And our needs, desires, hopes, aspirations, and despair do not divide us; they unite us.

If someone wonders why you read m/m, you might clue them in that, in the end, you like reading about people falling in love. People. And then you might use the opportunity to tell them what’s so wonderful and different about m/m romance and why it makes sense not only for you to read, but why it also might make sense for them to step out of their comfort zone and give it a try.

For the gay folks in your life who wonder why m/m romance and not just gay fiction

And here, it gets a little trickier. I heard someone say on Facebook recently that m/m romance is by and for straight women and that gay romance is by and for gay men. Putting aside the inanity of trying to classify who reads and writes love stories, you still might have to talk to gay friends about what they might perceive as reading in a genre that’s not gender-appropriate for you, especially if you happen to be a gay man. Again, the same thing I said above applies–we’re all human. And human love stories, whether they’re about gay people or straight people, have a lot more in common than they have differences. Most of us want to find our happily ever after. Most of us have trouble getting there and may even have the misfortune of kissing a few frogs that did not turn into princes along the way. M/m, gay fiction, gay romance (my personal preference) whatever you want to call it, if it centers around two people falling in love, then it’s blind to gender and you really don’t have to defend your reading choices. Tell them that…and tell them that reading or writing about love is about our shared human experience and has very little to do with what’s between our legs, but what’s between our ears. And we all have that in common.

What to tell those who simply cannot know

So you may fall into the camp of someone, for whatever reason, must keep your attendance at a gay-related event on the down-low. I wish the world weren’t a place where this was sometimes necessary, but if it is in your case, you have lots of options (and these you can say without even lying). Tell ‘em you’re attending a fan convention for fiction, a romance convention, a get-together with other readers like you to compare notes and meet your favorite authors. See, the specifics are nobody’s business but your own. Yet, I urge you, if you possibly can, to be open about where you’re going. Come out of the closet! You might be surprised that people are not as judgmental or surprised as you think. And by being open, you bring the possibility of the good news of m/m fiction more out into the world at large.

What to tell people if you’re an author

I can only speak for me, and the answer to that question is easy. I come because I want to connect with my tribe. For each of the four years I’ve been coming to GRL as a featured author, my experience is always the same: it’s like a family reunion. It’s a chance, for almost a week, to be with the people I write for, the people who ‘get’ me and I them, and to connect with others who write what I do and be go fan boy on them. It’s truly a retreat…into a perfect world where everyone likes the same stuff as I do. I am not big on swag or giveaways. My best giveaway, I’ve always thought, is a smile and a hug. Those are the things that give me my biggest return.

And speaking of gay romance

BigLove

What I think of as my best gay romance–BIG LOVE–comes out on April 4. But you can preorder you copy in ebook here or in paperback here right now!

BLURB

Teacher Dane Bernard is a gentle giant, loved by all at Summitville High School. He has a beautiful wife, two kids, and an easy rapport with staff and students alike. But Dane has a secret, one he expects to keep hidden for the rest of his life—he’s gay.

But when he loses his wife, Dane finally confronts his attraction to men. And a new teacher, Seth Wolcott, immediately catches his eye. Seth himself is starting over, licking his wounds from a breakup. The last thing Seth wants is another relationship—but when he spies Dane on his first day at Summitville High, his attraction is immediate and electric.

As the two men enter into a dance of discovery and new love, they’re called upon to come to the aid of bullied gay student Truman Reid. Truman is out and proud, which not everyone at his small town high school approves of. As the two men work to help Truman ignore the bullies and love himself without reservation, they all learn life-changing lessons about coming out, coming to terms, acceptance, heartbreak, and falling in love.

 

NOH8Rick

RICK R. REED is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.”

Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”

FIND RICK:

Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RickReedWRITER
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Email: jimmyfels@gmail.com

 

 

5 Responses to “GRL or GayRomLit: If You’re Going, Here are Some Ideas on How to Tell Folks Where You’re Going”

  1. Susan Ford says:

    I’m a bit careful of what I say to co-workers. This is Oklahoma, and I am in a job that requires a lot of public interaction, so I just say book convention. And some of those co-workers are deeply, deeply conservative.

    To friend and family, they know and don’t care, or are jealous… ;)

  2. Michelle says:

    Very well said! One of these years I will make it to GRL! It sounds like loads of fun. Congratulations on the new book. It sounds like my TBR pile is going to be getting closer to the ceiling again. :) Have a great retreat, and hope to see you at the next one.

  3. Dawn Sister says:

    All my friends, colleagues and family know what I write. It never ever occurred to me to hide it. Plus it really gets my goat when people assume I write porn, because that is the only view they have of gay relationships. I like to educate them on the differences. I feel if I can not be open about what I write and read how can I expect others to have the strength to be open? It’s not as if I’m doing something horrific. I’m writing about people falling in love.

  4. Rick R Reed says:

    Thanks for the comments! And Dawn, I love your last line…it’s pretty much what I said, only you said it more succinctly.

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