Friday, August 31, 2012

BIG GAY BLOG WEEK! With Ellis Carrington

*Ellis Carrington is a new friend! ( I'm making so many this week!) Romance requires a hopeful ending and that is why Ellis Carrington is driven to write it. She loves to create original stories that are gritty, witty, and a little unexpected, just like the heroes who inhabit them. Her men come in both human and non-human form because spirit guides and vampires deserve happiness too. Her favorite things are great friends, great music, and books that make her sob like there's no tomorrow.*

Love Heals (The benefits of romance in the gay community)
By Ellis Carrington

I recently watched a really interesting movie on Netflix called Private Romeo. This gay adaptation of Romeo and Juliet—set at a men’s military academy as a statement about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell—was fascinating to me for a couple of reasons aside from its political statement: The pronouns were not changed. Juliet’s character was played by a handsome young man but was referred to as “she” throughout. The ending of the movie, however, was slightly different. The lovers lived.

Ohmygod. A happy ending?? F’real?


When questioned about changing the story ending, the film’s director stated emphatically that the world needs to see more gay love stories that end well. God bless you, Alan Brown, I am with you all the way.

I get a lot of interesting reactions when I tell people I write male/male romance. Derision. Amusement. Bemusement. Genuine interest. Excitement. Porn Jokes. You name it, I’ve probably heard it.

I am grateful beyond measure for the enthusiasm I get from readers across the spectrum. What concerns me is that within the gay community—that’s where I feel like sometimes gay romance takes the most heat. So I’d like to talk a little about why I write romance and why I see it as beneficial to humans in general and the gay community in particular:

  • Improved Mood – The core rules of romance are these: the focus must be on the love story, and happy ending required. This means that no matter what trials and tribulations your couple faces you can be guaranteed a satisfying resolution at the end of a romance story. There’s a lot of ugliness in the world, and sometimes we need to crawl in bed with a book that gives us a little hope that maybe sometimes love can win the day. Stress and depression is a serious concern especially in the LGBT community. Everyone needs a happy place. I once had a reader tell me that paranormal romances like mine helped her get through a major depression. Love heals, even when it’s fiction. Yes, really.
  • Improved Sex Life – Whether it’s with a partner, your hand, or your favorite battery-powered toy, romance and its associated erotic bits can increase sexual desire, blood flow, interest in exploration, etc. Sex burns calories, improves your self-esteem, gets rid of headaches, reduces cholesterol, and improves monogamy in existing relationships—yanno, if that’s your bag.
  • Awareness – Thanks to e-publishing, LGBT romance is less constrained than mass-market romance, and can more easily touch on controversial subjects. Drug abuse, suicide, homelessness, child molestation and rape, DADT, and the bazillion and one ways that living a closeted life in our various cultures around the world can affect a person’s health and sanity. Just because the ending has to be positive doesn’t mean there can’t be plenty of angst and pain along the way. A good author writes true to life characters with varied pasts, just like we have in real life. Covering these topics in romance causes readers to consider subjects of importance they might not have otherwise. As a civilian, my eyes were opened to the insidious impact of DADT when I started researching an in-progress military novel.
  • Pick your flavor – I once thought I didn’t care much for romance. I thought it was all historical Harlequins with windblown women in poofy dresses, riding horses on the cover. Well those books are still out there, sure. But there are also men who turn into werewolves and the vampires who love them. Everything from sweet, young adult gay romances with nothing but kissing to BDSM stuff with whips and fisting. Angels and spirit guides. Lesbian Gothics. Trans* romance. Male/male Amish romance and tentacle erotica (I swear I am not making this up). You name it, it’s out there. Don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tasted a few.
  • Advocacy and Allies – Here’s a biggie, in my opinion. I have readers all over the LGBT spectrum. Many of my readers are also straight women. For a myriad of ways and reasons they across the genre of gay romance, and they begin to read it--maybe because they realize that they think sex between two men is hot or maybe because they just like the story. Or both, or for some other reason entirely. But what they become, are advocates for the LGBT community. They realize that same-sex couples falling in love is beautiful. DADT was unfair. Parents kicking their kids out for being gay is vile. They speak up about it; they vote their conscience at election time. We need these people on our team, and in my opinion if it’s the happy ending and a little smexing that gets them there, then rock on.
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