What do you do on Valentine’s day when society, family, and other obligations keep you from the one you love? The following is a special(late) Valentine’s Day editorial on one such scenario. Do I know if it is real? Nope. But we live in the world of fiction, so sometimes our imaginations can take us on some interesting journeys.
Unlike many readers and writers in the M/M genre, I didn’t find this genre through fanfiction. I don’t read or follow fanfiction. It’s a personal choice.
Another thing, I don’t do, is follow the lives of celebrities closely, if at all. There was a time that I was a not-so-secret casual observer of many things “entertainment”, but as I aged, I decided the intrusive nature of the hobby made me uncomfortable. It’s also quite an inefficient use of my time. I made a decision not to support the invasion into the personal lives of the men and women who choose to entertain for a living. I choose instead to focus on the product of their talent and appreciate it for the gift it is.
However, I seem to be in a minority on this, if the proliferation of “entertainment” news sources is anything to go by. I can’t even name them all. However, even living in my bubble, I can’t escape many of the “bigger” names in tabloid media.
All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.
– William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII
Oh, how the media takes that to the extreme… They play with the hearts and minds of the general public while playing with the lives and relationships of the subject of their “reports.” All in pursuit of the mighty dollar (yen, pound, Euro, pick your chosen currency). If you have the talent or the “it” factor to become “A-list”… the “ultimate” celebrity, your life is no longer your own… or at least that is how the media treats it/you.
Feeding this machine are the artists themselves, to an extent, but more often than not, it’s those AROUND the artists that pressure them to play to the crowd. The management. The agents. The labels. The studios. You are no longer a person; you are a product.
In short the whole media machine sickens me… but mostly, my heart hurts for their subjects.
I was recently introduced to the world of Ships. Hell, I don’t even know if I am using the term correctly. Specifically, I was introduced to the Ship that is affectionately known as Larry Stylinson. If you are unfamiliar with the term ship, here is the definition from Urban Dictionary:
N: Short for romantic relationship, popularized in fanfiction circles.
V: To endorse a romantic relationship.
Now this term can be applied to both fictional and non-fictional “characters”. In the case of Larry Stylinson, they are real people. Specifically they are two of the five singers if the Boy Band of the hour, One Direction.
There are, of course, opposing ships. I am not, however, here to talk about Larry, Elounor, Ziam, Haylor, or any of the other copious number of choices. I’m not here to endorse any particular One Direction-based ship. I’m here to talk about the thoughts and feelings brought forth by my tumble down the rabbit hole.
Don’t worry, I will bring this around to MM shortly.
Forty-eight hours ago, I’d barely heard of One Direction. I had a single One Direction song in my digital library that I’d purchased on a recommendation of a Facebook friend after an open call for “new music.” (The song is You & I, in case you’re wondering… excellent song… gives me chills, but I digress.) I loved the song (hey, I will listen to almost anything… not too into Rap or R&B). I didn’t know who Harry Styles or Louis Tomlinson were. I had a vague knowledge that a group by the name of One Direction existed. In short, these two weren’t on my radar.
Thanks to a good friend, I now know, or suspect, more about them and their “world” than I ever cared to know. Along the way I have gained respect for their talent and have been enchanted by their personalities. However, what sucked me in and wouldn’t let go, is the injustice that I see imposed on the members of the band by “the man” and “the media”. Specifically, the perceived closeting of one or more of the members.
In a way, the whole ship is one big conspiracy theory. Basically, the theory is this: Harry and Louis met in 2010 during their run on X-Factor (a competition show on which they came in third). During this time, they were pretty openly “together.” They talked to each other on social media and about each other to regular media. They were constantly touching. They lived together in a flat in London. There are those out there that called it a “Very close bromance.” There are those who called it love. They never overtly confirmed or denied, but there was plenty of innuendo and speculation. Then, suddenly they went into a meeting with management. Upon leaving that meeting, Harry was in tears, and Louis was on the arm of his “girlfriend” Eleanor (who he is still “with” to this day… when it is necessary to remind the world that Louis “is, in fact, straight.”).
From the moment of that meeting – until this past November when something obviously changed – Harry and Louis were rarely, if ever, photographed together unless they were with the entire band. They were not “allowed” to sit or stand next to each other during interviews or anytime a camera was around. Watching footage from that time period, you hear the men talk about girls and say all the right things, but if the other is in the camera shot, they look pretty damn pissed, or hurt, or… The “evidence” as the Larry shippers like to call it is pretty compelling. However, if you don’t open your eyes and your mind you would miss most of it. Which is exactly the point of a PR machine.
There comes a time when the blind man takes your hand and says, ‘Can’t you see?’ – Grateful Dead as Tweeted by Harry Styles
The PR machine is certainly at work.
I’m not here to convert you. I’m here to talk about the motivations behind this, and what has me sucked in. Do I think “Larry” is real? Well, I’ll leave that out of the discussion. What I do believe, with all my heart, is whatever relationship these men had – be it bromance or romance – it was obviously special and was obviously squashed by ‘someone’ in a position to do so. It’s pretty clear that management didn’t want their relationship construed by conservative “tween” parents as a gasp gay relationship. Of course, being “gay” is wrong, and their image would be forever tarnished by love! (They sing love songs for cripes’ sake)… Or that’s the message sent to the members of One Direction and their fans… By management. That’s the message being upheld by the media machine who acquiesce to requests by management to crop photos. Or who show up at “X restaurant at Y time to take a picture of … some 1D member with a girl.”
Is some of the onus on the men themselves? Yes and no. Let’s face it. If someone was dangling your livelihood, the livelyhood of your bandmates, and everyone that is part of the “team” (and the adoration of millions) in your face and telling you “play it straight or else,” most teenagers and young adults are going to fall in line. They are a “boy” band. Boy bands are expected to have a certain image. Being seen as gay (whether true or not) is certainly not part of that image.
That’s the part that hurts my heart. I don’t know for a fact if “Larry” is real. I’m a natural skeptic. Conspiracy theories and I are not generally friends. However, it is pretty clear from a study of this ship (yep, it was all for science, you will not convince me otherwise) that, bromance or romance, it was contained and neutralized by management… at least in the public eye.
Even with all the media icons leaving closet, people are still running scared from an image. The powers that be still think that the public will see a gay relationship as wrong and will do everything in their power to ensure the couple gets cozy Mr. Tumnus.
Queue the tugging heartstrings.
Here is the thing, though. Most of those prejudices are ingrained in the PARENTS and the older generation… not the target audience. Their fans (and yes I mean the tween and teens ones) are smart. They can tell that these men aren’t being true to themselves. Watch any interview with them, and you can see the reactions that they can’t hide when the subject of their “love lives” comes up. You know they are being forced to be portrayed as something in contradiction to what they are. It doesn’t matter if they are gay or straight. They obviously are not being allowed to be themselves.
In the case of One Direction, they have an entire LGBTQAI fanbase known as Rainbow Direction. “Security” at the shows has been reported (repeatedly) by members to confiscate their signs for having the rainbow logo. The theory is that this is done so the rainbow logo doesn’t accidentally appear on camera.
It is a case of the old man in his Ivory Tower deciding what is right and wrong for the rest of the world, instead of realizing that the world has moved on without them.
Whether economics or discrimination, it has to change.
This paradigm is what has to change. Yes, marriage equality is a buzzword right now and as of this writing 38 states are on board, as well as a number of countries. Countries on board include the UK, home of four of the five One Direction members. Ireland, the home country of the fifth member, is set to move forward on ME later this year.
Over the last decade, I’ve adopted a live and let live attitude. I may have grown up in a conservative Texas town, but as I’ve grown, met people, seen the world, and learned more about said world, I came to realize how narrow my views were.
As a mom, I don’t know what, or who, my kids will grow up to be, but I want them to have the freedom to be themselves – without fear and without being told everything they thought about themselves is wrong.
So how does this relate to M/M books? My entire trip down the rabbit hole brought to mind a few titles, of course. If you don’t want to think about puppet masters playing with the lives of real men (and women), or you just need to know that your guys WILL get their happily ever after, I have a few titles for you.
Catch my Breath by MJ O’Shea. Two men in love in the public eye, forced to closet themselves… sound familiar?
Conquest by SJ Frost. Yes, this one is closeted rockers, but they manage to take control of their relationship in the media.
Replacement Guitarist by Lori Toland. A guitarist and his manager. The closet is a huge part of this one.
Moonlight Becomes You by Piper Vaughn and MJ O’Shea. This one is kind of an ideal. Two rockers who don’t know the inside of a closet finding love.
Tigers & Devils and Tigerland by Sean Kennedy is a favorite series of mine. This one isn’t rockers, it is an Aussie footballer, but the same closeted theme. In this one, they are outed by unscrupulous pap… which brings up a whole other issue I have with the media circus.
On the Right Track by Sam Kadence – Boy band member closeted by management… need I say more?
For those of you interested, if the Larry shippers are to be trusted, Harry might just be ready to bust out of the closet. Over the last few months his personality has taken another turn to being more open and free with his words and actions. He has already been making strides in the media. Just recently during an interview he answered “Not That important” when discussing the importance of a “girlfriend” being female. How huge is that? I actually have a ton of respect for Harry for his strides to buck the image his management has been creating for him for the last four years.
One thing One Direction is known for is that despite all the fame, they’ve stayed true to their roots. They’ve stayed kind and compassionate and are loyal to each other to a fault. Shouldn’t management be more concerned about THAT part of their image than whether they have a girl or a guy on their arm? Parents don’t mind if their teen and pre-teens idolize these ‘perfect’ young men.
If you want Larry Stylinson 101 crash course check out Freddyismyqueen on You tube.
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,
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