And I don’t mean a holiday yarn of fun and mirth. I mean M/M kissing and passion.
Why am I reading a male love story? Because…well…I just don’t know much about it.
Reading gay literature is a first for me. I didn’t even know what M/M meant until I began looking for book reviewers. M/M, or MM, was one of the genre abbreviations I had to figure out, like YA and now NA (New Adult).
I also discovered that my estimation of how many women sink their hearts into romantic sagas was way too low.
They can’t get enough. Women write for women and they have that world all to themselves. I think men are invited, but I don’t know a single guy who reads that stuff – not that any guy would ADMIT to reading it. Still, I don’t think they do. Like hidden porn mags, if a dude’s secretly perusing romance pages on the toilet, somebody like me will eventually find them.
I have yet to discover a Pirate & Princess book cover buried in a dude’s sock drawer. I DID find my Dad’s nudist magazines stuffed between his shirts. Treasures unearthed, I couldn’t wait to be alone in the house. I was fifteen.
My parents would have been pleased to know I was looking at naked ladies. They thought I was a homosexual, or potentially one. I found out about their dreaded fear in my twenties when Mom finally admitted to me that she cried after I told her the story about me and Donald P..
Donny was sort of friend in the seventh grade. Every few weeks we’d play Monopoly after school at his house. His parents were never home. So one day he asked me to tie him to the posts of his bed. And he wanted to be naked too.
Now even at thirteen I thought that was pretty strange, but he didn’t want to tie me up so I went with it. Life was simple in the early sixties. Kids grew up with sex later than they do today. So it never occurred to me that Donny P. had jumped into BDSM a month after his Bar Mitzvah.
Of course we didn’t know what BDSM was, or blow jobs or anything about grown-up sex. Donny just knew he wanted to be tied down and have his private parts touched. I didn’t want to touch his private parts. I was still figuring out how to touch my own.
So after a few minutes of looking at my friend on his back, tied to his bed, with his penis long, I unknotted the clothes line and I went home and told Mom about it.
BAD IDEA, as I learned years later. And it’s dawning on me now, as I write this post, why Dad kept asking if I “scored” on those first girl dates when I was sixteen.
The romance book I ordered was reviewed by a heterosexual wife/mommy, written by a heterosexual wife/mommy, with lots of heterosexual wife/mommies reading and reviewing it.
I knew women liked romantic things. I didn’t know they loved everything romantic, including gay romance.
But ya know, I should’ve suspected it. Years ago I asked my friend Lisa if she ever watched porn movies. She said, yeah, but only gay porn because the guys were so much more buff and handsome. I should have remembered that. I should have remembered that gay sex wasn’t a turn-off for my lady friend.
But I didn’t remember, so recently I asked a reviewer how she related to homosexual romance. Why would she find it interesting? She said, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Love is love, but with men it’s supercharged with testosterone.”
And I’m thinking…this gay book she’s talking about, the one she awarded five stars, it was written by a woman…with a husband and kids…and pets, and living in the Midwest, the Heartland of America!
Wow! Are farm wives reading about cowboys bouncing in bed? And if so, why am I not on this train? As a writer in search of my next novel, I gotta read this book for two more reasons.
One: Writers are supposed to write what they know, but reviews of this book said it really delivered. Yet it was written by a non-gay female. I wanted to find out what it might deliver to me, a heterosexual married man.
Two: Romance novels are in demand. They get read. A lot. I like that. I want to write a love story and get reviewed. But I need to know what works in that genre, even when it’s gay.
You see, I have a love story already in mind. I outlined it a year ago. It would not be about what I know. It would be about a transgender couple. Yes, I could write about feelings. But is thinking in transgender terms too much of a stretch? I’m not a woman trapped in a man’s body or a man buried within the frame of a lady. I’m a guy living like a guy, which so far has worked out without any deep soul searching.
Write what you know. WRITE WHAT YOU FEEL! Okay! How would I feel with breasts and a vagina? Humm… I’ll need some research.
Still, if love is love, as lady reviewers tell me, maybe I could write about romance and wanting and vulnerability and trepidation and lust and sorrow from a place that’s sort of universal.
That’s why I’m reading this book. It’s homework.
Last night I stopped at page 100. I’m bored. But it’s research, right? I’ll finish it. And here’s what I’ve discovered so far.
If I imagine one of the male characters as a woman, nothing would change plot wise, or with the character’s behavior, or even the internal thinking.
The M/M sex? Well, it’s hard to evaluate because I have no reference. Guys don’t talk about explicit sex and passion and no gay man has told me either. The two sexual scenes I’ve read so far remind me of girl-boy stuff, the love-is-love thing.
Do guys nuzzle each other, stroke hair and seductively yank it, or breathe kisses into ears? Are men, or some men, attracted to body scents? Do men increase an orgasm by holding it back while masturbating? I don’t know about anybody but me, but what I read seemed like a woman’s romanticized fantasy.
It doesn’t matter though. There were sixty terrific Goodreads reviews and 131 rating for this self published gay romance book. I saw maybe six names I recognized as men, which means men don’t write as many comments as woman, or gay men haven’t discovered this book yet, or gay men don’t read gay books written by straight authors, or five other reasons I don’t know about.
Like I said, I know little about the reading public, but I’m now convinced romance is still hot, always will be, and I better love it if I’m going to write it full-bore.
It won’t be gay though, or festive, or merry, or mirthful. It will be about how so many of us hide our true nature while denying it even to ourselves. And when the right person comes along, someone we trust, someone who won’t hurt us as we expose our vulnerability, we grow.
Donald P. trusted me enough to show his inner needs and by doing so, I came to understand a little more about Irving Podolsky. Gay people don’t threaten me because I don’t fear being one. And I don’t fear being gay because I don’t think homosexuality is a mistake. It’s another way to express our Godly essence and love for another.
Tuesday night: My wife and I spontaneously invited our gay friend to dinner. I told him about my blog, explaining how little I knew about the gay culture. And then I asked about heavy kissing and hair pulling and romantic rapture between two men. And our friend said yes, it’s all that, like a man and a woman.
Wow. So it is true. Love IS love. And love is universal.