I’ve spent the morning reading some of the entries made in the Hop Against Homophobia blog for May 17th’s International Day Against Homophobia. The stories have been fascinating; hopeful, sad, infuriating, and mostly just….stories. Stories are history. Stories are entertainment. Stories are the stuff of legend. They take us to other places, other times. The reason we read them is to experience something we never have and, most likely, never will.
That is also the reason we write.
When writing, authors pull from their own emotions. “Of course, we do!” I hear you say. “How silly to bring that up now!” I say this because so many times writers, especially women who write in the m/m genre, are asked “Why do you write this? You’re not a man/not gay/not trans, how do you think you can write this with any sort of realism?” How? I’ll tell you.
Emotion is HUMAN experience. Not male. Not female. Not young or old straight or gay….just plain HUMAN. When a writer transcribes feelings they put themselves in a place they haven’t been and face those feelings head-on. This works for every sort of feeling, be it love, hate, anger, sadness, joy and even boredom. Are male writers like G.R.R. Martin asked how he can write about mythical sword bearers, dragon queens, and manipulative, hyper-sexual little people? Being as he is none of these, how can we take his stories seriously? Of course not! He’s G.R.R. Martin! (if you ask too much he may kill your favorite character, but that’s beside the point)
I defend this by saying that he’s done what we all do and use heart, mind and imagination to complete the picture and present it as realistically as he can. It’s what all writers do; very few authors have ever had any contact with what they write about. That’s part of why we write! Martin knows he’ll never be lopping off heads on The Wall or stepping into a fire to emerge wrapped in dragons, though he may have been gangbanged by prostitutes….I couldn’t say….but he threw himself into the situations and used his own emotions to make the characters and story come alive. Again, it’s what writers do and if no one had been willing to do that, if no one took themselves out of their present and dropped it somewhere new, then we would have NO LITERATURE AT ALL! Without storytelling there would be no plays, no television, no movies…99% of the world’s entertainment would have never existed.
Think on that for a moment.
It’s acceptable for 20th century historian to write about American Aboriginal tribes and European colonialism even though he’s never had contact with either colonials or said tribes. It’s acceptable for a 21st century black woman to write about her ancestry, even though she was never in the chains herself. It’s even acceptable for a straight man to write about two women being in love. But it’s not okay for me to write about two men who fall in love? Are you kidding me?
I ask that we all stop applying our own prejudices to what authors give us. If we don’t like it, we don’t read it…very simple, yes? We need to end all the internal bickering and accept that there’s room for all of us. The water is deep and warm. Dive in…head first…