Queer Romance Month (3) with Alexis Hall and Beverley Jansen:
Welcome to the third week of QRM round ups with Alexis Hall and Beverley. It’s been wonderful to read your comments and we are so glad that you are enjoying our rambling discussions.
AJH: I’m certainly having a blast.
BJ: So do you want to kick off this week with your favourite post as I have one which has lead to a bit of an essay lol. It sparked off that many thoughts in my poor brain.
AJH: That sounds like a brilliant starting point. Which post was it?
BJ: Blaine Arden’s Celebrating the Diversity of (my) Men…It struck me as including some very simple truths.
AJH: I love Blaine, I think they’re awesome. I remember they were worried about the title of that post – in case ‘my men’ looked appropropriative, but I thought it was perfect because it was such a personal post. I mean, if you can’t call your family, well, your family … something has gone wrong somewhere.
BJ: Absolutely. It got me thinking how we encourage children to be unique and accomplished and as parents and guardians we celebrate our attempts to bring our children up free of defined gender roles. Then as adults they are expected to behave in a fashion which meets with societal approval based on the very definitions we have tried to keep our young ones free from. It’s as though we condone these behaviours in the young but expect them to ‘grow out of them’ if they are outside of the normal patriarchal binary system. We then wonder why young people become confused? We tell the next generation they can achieve anything and be whatever they wish… but there is a proviso they must conform to preset definitions. This applies to gender, sexuality and indeed most aspects of the human condition.
AJH: Well … yes, he says helpfully. The thing is, though, I can see where it comes from because it’s a fundamental drive to want our children to be happy, and to equip them for happiness in the world…. which very naturally includes a degree of conformity to expectations, no matter how harmful or arbitrary. It’s like I remember getting into this quite intense conversation with an old friend of mine because her son likes the colour pink. He’s too young to understand that colours are … this sounds absurd. I was going to say he’s too young to understand that colours are gendered but of course colours aren’t bloody gendered. So basically he’s at that stage of youth where one is potentially wiser than at any other point in one’s life. But he was starting to get a bit of grief at kindergarten by other boys who had been taught pink was girly and consequently shameful. And it was this horrible dilemma: because while you want to support diversity and the development of selfhood, it feels wrong to be actively encouraging your child in something that might make their path through life more painful than it has to be.
BJ: That is the real dilemma and as a parent or rather as parents Jeroen and I avoided that decision by only dressing our daughter in bright primary colours, until she could decide what she wanted to wear. Of course now it’s just black!
AJH: Yeah. I’ve really enjoyed how many of the QRM posts have been family-based or family-inspired. Family is such a potent symbol for me, since while I’m sort of talking to some of mine now, there’s probably never going to be closeness there. There’s a kind undeniable sense, sometimes, that queerness exists outside traditional structures, but I like how many people are finding ways to integrate the possibility of in into their lives. Sarah Frantz has this really hilarious story about her son coming out to her as straight.
BJ: I read that somewhere, and I had a similar apology from my daughter that ‘she wasn’t a lesbian ‘…but watch this space’ she said 🙂 I think the reason for so many family oriented stories in QRM is that we often seek to make families if our biological/traditional family unit rejects us in some way. I know that my ‘created’ family, knows more about me than my biological one.
AJH: Yes, my family is constructed as well. But it had to be, you know? What I really like about the family-led QRM posts is that … it doesn’t have to be a refuge any more. That there are people growing up in a world where you can have both: your biological family and your chosen family. There’ve been another couple quite personal, queer-centric posts this week I’ve very much enjoyed. Power Perceptions by Sam Schooler and Queer Tectonics by John Jacobson.
BJ: Yes. I really enjoyed the Power Perceptions post and it was interesting how the fascination with power in relationships took Sam Schooler to BDSM and stories relating to this lifestyle, whereas it looks like the journey to accept themselves and their needs is taking John Jacobson begin to write gay romance of the type he likes to read.
AJH: I think John, although he’s a lot younger than me obviously (ouch, I’m old), speaks more naturally to my own journeys and experiences. I think what Sam highlights is the way ideas of power and gender and queerness are, to a degree, inextricable when your context is shaped by marginalisation and disempowerment. For me personally, though, the ritualisation of power exchange (BDSM) is less interesting than explorations of power and vulnerability, sex and gender, on their own terms. If that makes sense.
BJ: Makes perfect sense to me but I am running a fever of 99.9 at the moment! I like the idea of the psychological aspects of BDSM and power exchange but I agree with you that it is more interesting and personally more fulfilling to incorporate them into your own relationships without such a rigid structure and form of behaviour.
AJH: One of the things I struggle with a bit in some m/m is the way sometimes power dynamics are portrayed as inherent rather than, as Sam articulates, constructed. I think to a degree this the difference between BDSM-as-queerness and BDSM-as-reinforcement.
BJ: Ah you have hit the nail on the head for me there. I think BDSM can be seen as a way to reinforce gender roles in a non binary relationship. I think this creates a slightly false construct rather than confronting new dynamics within non traditional relationships.
AJH: Yep, yep, the dreaded Penetration Politics ™. I think being the receptive partner can be an act of surrender but then anything can be an act of power or surrender, depending on how you, err, approach it. And … gosh … I honestly think because of the things we’re taught as being inherent to masculinity part of its charge can be that sense of physical and gendered vulnerability, and the taboos associated with such things. But at the same time I think we forget how constructed these ideas are. And what I really admired about Sam’s post was how well she articulated and explored those dynamics.
BJ: It’s amazing how often our conversations lead back to the constructed definitions of masculinity and for that matter femininity as well.
AJH: Yeah, it’s kind of a thing. I should probably get a new theme. Any other posts grab you by a non-gendered region this week?
BJ: (snorts coffee for a second time!) I enjoyed Wanted your Story by JC Lillis, in that it made me think about the pressures of writing to be correct and helpful in your subjects, versus the market and not alienating readers plus what people say about an author’s work and misinterpretation.
AJH: Oh yes, I love JC Lillis (How to Repair a Mechanical Heart and We Won’t Feel a Thing are two of my favourites), and that post was wonderful. It makes a kind of nice companion piece to Reflections by Del Dryden. Something that really excites me about QRM is that … through so many voices you get these wider stories, these themes and preoccupations. It feels so very human to me. Everything that connects us being so much greater than the things that divide us.
BJ: One of the extraordinary moments for me was when I realised I was ‘getting’ the swing of how people were expressing themselves in these posts. I say this because at first I found it quite aggressive and a rather worrying site to be on, but the more I have read the more I realise that it is a way of expressing issues and commentaries on lives which have been devalued and ridiculed. The tone of the posts reflects the immense emotion behind the genre of Queer Romance and Queer writing in general.
AJH: I’m glad, a lot of passion can be powerful, though it can also be intimidating. I’m honestly just kind of humbled by how much of people have given, of their time, and their hearts. Their willingness to talk and be open or be vulnerable or be angry. Speaking of which, I loved Alex Beecroft’s post as well: Oh I Am Glad You Called It That.
BJ: I think Alex ended that post with one of the most romantic statements so far, when speaking of love in all its diversity:
‘It transcends everything society can throw at it, and is still the most beautiful thing on Earth.’
AJH: Yes. I loved the post, and I love Alex Beecroft. I find her writing … stunning, romantic, and completely necessary. She manages to get into all the masculinity stuff I keep banging on about, and still bring me a beautiful love story. I. Yeah. So important to me.
BJ: As you know the posts which are to come…Can you tell me is there anyone brave enough to approach the subject of ‘Alpha Males’ and their prevalence in m/m romance?
AJH: Now that would be a fascinating post. But, uh, no is the short answer. Next year, maybe? Perhaps you can write it? crazy grin
BJ: I think you like to get me in trouble…but who knows maybe I might!
AJH: Maybe Brandi will let us come back for a chat about it one Sunday. But, we do have some amazing posts coming up.
BJ: Anything you can give us a clue about?
AJH: Well, I did a sneak peak post over at Love Bytes Reviews. But I’m personally really looking forward to EE Ottoman, Ginn Hale, Cecilia Tan and, ahem bias alert, Julio Alexi Genao. His post is, well, it’s all Julio, and I love him. But it’s beautiful, and intimate, if rather painful sometimes.
BJ: I’m beginning to see E.E as my nemesis! They write what I think, but in a much better fashion and I want to give them an ‘apple for teacher’.
AJH: I have a complete braincrush on them. Just want to follow them around the internet going “YES THIS!” Oh, and we’ve had some really stunning original fictional fiction on QRM this week. There’s The Purpose of Ife Leighs by Aldous Mercer, which is weird and intriguing. And Rose by Mary Ann Rivers and Ruthie Knox which is, frankly, perfect. And, speaking of what’s ahead, there’s some really lovely fiction to come – LC Chase wrote a story called Shimmer which is so good. And there’s a piece from Vanessa North as well which I also loved to pieces.
BJ: I think it’s one of the signs of how successful QRM has been that it has attracted such high quality original fiction from such intelligent authors. Plus, I do encourage everyone to pop over to the QRM associated blog posts elsewhere on the net. The links can be found on the right hand side of the QRM home screen.
Once again thank you to Alexis. This week’s post is a little shorter as I’m afraid I’m currently in bed with a fever. I suspect Alexis is starting to suffer some tiredness as he is one of the powerhouses behind QRM and can be found producing wonderful commentaries and blog posts there and elsewhere on the net.
QRM continues throughout October do pop over and read the posts, leave a few comments and generally enjoy! Next Sunday is our final QRM discussion and I hope to be joined by Julio Alexi Genao as well as Alexis Hall of course.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|