Friday, June 27, 2014

Writing as a Gay Man

I've been thinking about writing and the following words--wishes, fears, knowledge, background, experiences and desires--and how they relate to me as a writer who is also a gay male.  Other than occasionally writing gay male characters, I'm not sure how I write as a gay man.  I write women characters, too, and I'm pretty sure that doesn't make me a female writer.

(Pause for gay super-hero madness...)

I stand before my secret Phallic Shrine, which is guarded by a band of taut satyrs, and which I go to to renew my Gay Writer's Pen.  In the pink glow of the shrine, I hold my pen up to the Mystic Gay Phallus and recite:  "By Brightest Day / By Darkest Night / My Gay Body / Brings Great Insight / Let All Who Worship / Writing Trite / Beware My Power / Gay Writer's Might!"  When writing wrongs, those whom I have rescued exclaim, "Ooh! Look at that pen!  You must be... Gay Writer!"  

(Meanwhile, back at the essay...)

My personal gay male story is probably not as a unique an experience as it sometimes feels to me.... I officially came out in 1995, when I was thirty-one (hooray for me, I got to go through awkward dating rituals fifteen years after high school).  As a result the gay narratives of the Baby Boomer Generation feel like they're for characters in an old play, and the gay narrative of Gen Y seems like it's come from some inappropriate party-tunes radio show.

Trying a different tack, I wonder if I can approach being a writer who is gay by asking how I read as a gay man.  Man, that sounds like a Gay Agenda Joke waiting to happen.  

Um, it would be nice to read about gay characters who don't die in car crashes as soon (or just before) they discover their same-sex desire, or who don't die so we can see how the other gay character is sad and noble.  It would be nice to have gay characters who are more than just gay, or who spend time outside of a gay ghetto.  I want my gay characters to be more than "magic gay guys" who exist only to give another (usually straight) character advice and who's sole source of wisdom is that they're gay (Queer Eye, I'm looking at you).  I'd like more stories that are not about coming out, pride, or reminiscences about post-stonewall/pre-AIDS New York City.  And just because there's a gay guy in a story isn't going to automatically make me like it; it has to be a good story.

There... that's enough queer literary theory for today...   

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