Why do I write gay romance? I answer the question yet again.
I’ve been asked this question repeatedly. Last time was during a little mini interview for the UK Meet. Basically, I said I like the dynamic between two men and I think love is love, and, well, I love it. 🙂 I adore romance. It’s always been my preferred genre—for reading and writing both. A lot of authors (and readers when asked why they read gay romance) will say “well, one man is hot, two is even better.” And, yeah, I think two men are hot together. But I also like two women together and a man and a woman, so it’s not just about the visual for me. It’s deeper than that.
I had a moment just now when I was scrolling on Tumblr and I saw a collection of pictures of male couples on the verge of kissing, that moment when you’re just a breath away, sharing the same air, lips barely brushing. There’s anticipation there, a breathless expectancy of that first touch and then a warm, slick tongue. And it made me think. See, I’ve known a lot of strong, proud men in my day. The Latino culture tends to be pretty macho in general, and my family members for the most part aren’t an exception to this. I’ve known men who you’d never see cry, who see it as a weakness. Then a man like my father, who is fairly intimidating at first sight, who I’d sometimes find sitting at the kitchen table thinking of his mother, crying because she died when he was in his late 20s and to this day he misses her. All these different types of men, some who were more communicative than others. I had a boyfriend who never cried, at least not in front of me. My husband? He cried with me while I was in labor, and he admitted to crying over episodes of certain TV shows when he was younger.
You know what I love more than anything? I love watching a man fall in love, because for some men, it’s the only time you get to see them vulnerable, see them tender, watch them let go of some of their pride. I think it takes a lot of strength to let someone in emotionally, to give them the power to hurt you. You put your heart in someone else’s hands and you think to yourself, Please don’t break it. It’s the only one I have.
I think women in general love more easily. A lot of women wear their hearts on their sleeves. Some men are like that too, but in my experience, not nearly as many. With my ex, it was a battle to get him to admit he cared about me in any way beyond friendship, even though we were dating. In fact, it wasn’t until he cheated on me and I was crying and brokenhearted and we were on the verge of breaking up that he admitted it. I asked if there’d been any time, any time at all, where he loved me as more than a friend. He said yes. He later proved this in a series of soppy letters about how much he missed me and such. By then, it was too little, too late. He could have admitted caring while we were together. He never did. My husband told me he loved me within two weeks of our meeting. Eight years later, he says it still.
Two men who loved in very different ways, and one whose pride never let him fess up to it when it actually mattered. However it happens for the man—quickly or fighting tooth and nail—I like watching, reading, and writing that process. Because I think, for men, it’s not as easy to be openly affectionate and loving, especially when in a relationship with another man—not only because of fear/awareness of their surroundings and possible repercussions from close-minded individuals, but also because a lot of the time, I feel like society expects men to be these strong, impervious creatures. A man never wants to be picked on for being a “sissy/pansy” (or whatever slur you can think of) or for being “caught up” or “dick/pussy-whipped.” That ex I mentioned? He maybe held my hand in public once during the course of our year-long relationship and only kissed me in public one time when he was drunk and we were in a dark bar. Everything else happened behind closed doors, and even then affection (both verbal and physical) was rare. He just wasn’t the demonstrative type.
So the point to all this rambling? I just adore it when a man can open himself to love—both being loved and loving someone else. I like the vulnerability, the joy, the pain, and everything else that comes with it, and I like it even more when the man falling in love isn’t the type to think he’d ever want or need it. That, especially, is my weakness. ♥