Join Prism Book Alliance® as Brandon Witt goes Outside the Margins today.
When I started writing, I had no idea I was writing gay romance. I thought I was simply writing books with gay characters. The only romances I’d ever really read were Christian Romances (by the truckfulls) back in high school (yes, they exist, and there are some really, really good ones).
Disclaimer: Many would say that I don’t write romances, even when I attempt to write romances, most of the reviews start off be saying… this isn’t a romance… However, my publisher is a Gay Romance Publisher, ergo, I fell into this category and into this world by default. (And I’m thrilled I did. I love this community.) So, when I’m asked what I write, I either say gay romance or gay fiction.
Up until I fell into this world, I had no idea such a thing as MM Romance existed. For the first couple of years, that what I said I wrote. I’ve changed that. Firstly, because of so many posts saying that gay men had no business writing MM Romance and shouldn’t have a say in how it is written or how gay men are portrayed in it. Secondly, because Gay Romance or Gay Fiction just makes more sense with how I view my life. (And no, this isn’t going to be a thing about women vs gay men writing gay fiction. I’m tired of that stupid argument, and I’m not having it here. Women have every fucking right to write about anything they fucking want, including gay men. In addition, I’d have no career at all without these women, from my publisher, to my cover artist, to my editor, to 98% of my readers. If any part of you wants to make a comment on this post about women writing gay fiction in any negative way, please fuck off. Can you tell I’m tired of that bullshit?)
The other thing I didn’t know was all the rules that went along with writing gay romance, or romance in general. For the past year or two I’ve battled trying to follow those rules while simultaneously trying to break them. Spoiler alert, everything slated to come out from me in 2017 is going to more romance centered than you’ve seen from me, however, they’re still not going to be pure romance to most readers, I’m certain, and that’s okay.
I’ve made the leap that so many other writers were screaming at me to do—I’ve stopped reading reviews. And my life has improved (and my writing) a billion fold. I’m grateful for every single review, and if you’ve read my work, please write some more—good or bad. They truly are an author’s only chance to make it. However, as it’s been said by better than me, reviews are for the readers, not for the authors. I have no business looking at them, at least at this point in my writing journey.
However, I broke that rule on someone else’s new release the other day. I knew I shouldn’t, I knew I was just going to get furious, but I did it anyway. (I’m not going to say the name of the book, I’ve not asked the author and, while I love this author’s writing, I haven’t had a chance to read this book yet.) I knew the book dealt with an open relationship. I wanted to see if anyone was open-minded enough to give it chance. And, to my surprise, many had, but there were a shit ton raking it over the coals, often because of that issue.
(Another disclaimer, I’m going to be blunt in what follows, and this is not directed at women readers of romance. This is not a man / woman thing. This is a huge issue in the gay community right now. Men saying that the gays who are in an open relationship are cheaters, aren’t in a real relationships, and are damaging the gay movement. You should have seen all the gays celebrating when Davey Wavey and his boyfriend broke up from their open relationship. This makes me much more furious than reviews on a book, trust me. And I will fully admit, that I’m probably overly sensitive on the subject, as can happen when you feel beat over the head about something at every turn.)
So, here’s the deal, and you’ve probably figured it out by now (or if you follow me on social media, I’ve not exactly been secretive about it), I am in an open relationship. I never planned on being in one, and I was previously one of the gays condemning open relationships. Of course, I also used to be one of those uber-religious republicans condemning the gays. So there’s THAT part of my journey for you. (I’m also aware I’ve more than earned my time on the receiving end of that joy.) I’m not going to get into why I’m in an open relationship or even why it’s the best relationship of my life and the one that has outlasted any other three times as long, or that it’s the most honest and transparent relationship I’ve ever had. I don’t mind talking about it and I plan on writing a book around it one day, but for now, it’s beside the point.
This post isn’t even about reviews, people can review however they want for any reason they want. Hell, I’ve seen one star reviews because they didn’t like the color of the character’s jacket on the cover (nope, not kidding). This post is simply to let me rant. Sorry. Wait, no. No, I’m not sorry.
Here’s what I hear about my relationship, from readers/reviews, from other gays on social media, and even people in my real life, to my face.
- I’m not in a real relationship.
- We are cheaters.
- We are hurting the gay movement.
- We obviously aren’t really/actually in love.
- That we will break up.
- That we deserve to break up.
- That we are only friends with benefits.
- That we are disgusting and cliché.
- That we don’t have romance.
- That we can’t commit.
- That what we have isn’t real.
Now, let me tell you what I was told when I came out as gay.
- That I’d never find love.
- That gays don’t actually love each other.
- That it wouldn’t be a real relationship.
- That there wasn’t such a thing as gay marriage.
- That I would end up alone and suicidal.
- That I wouldn’t deserve to be happy.
- Fucking Blah.
And now, you get to hear me be a judgy bitch (and for those of you who know me, you won’t be surprised by this unpleasant nature of mine). A lot, not all, but a lot, of these same people I’ve heard these things from (in real-life or on-line) often only complained about their spouse, or bitch about them on-line an embarrassingly large amount of time, have cheated (or are being cheated on), look forward with a fervor to a solitary night when their spouse would go on a trip and they could have the house to themselves, hadn’t slept with their spouse in years, on and on and on. To me, none of those sound like romance or love. However, to those couples, I’m sure some of them would say differently.
(Honestly, none of that paragraph above has a damn thing to do with open or monogamous relationships, but it just infuriates me when these same people criticize my relationship, though they make me so very, very glad that I don’t have what they do.)
I’m not trying to convince anyone with this post. You’re entitled to feel however you feel about relationships and romances. But, if you knew the truth about some of the relationships around you, you’d be shocked, and I’m talking the straights here. I’ve been blown away by some of the ‘conservative’ straights I met who are either open or go to swingers parties (even I don’t do that—LOL!)
So, no, I don’t plan on this post changing anyone’s views or reviews about romances, both in real life or on the page. However, I love those authors who are brave enough to show more than one simple type of relationship.
Because, whether you think it or not, I am in a romance. I am in a committed relationship where we face the good and bad, the fun and the painful together. Where we plan on being together for the rest of our lives. And, you know what? If that doesn’t happen, if we somehow break up in a week, that doesn’t negate the romance or the relationship. Just as a divorce doesn’t make it where there was no marriage. You don’t have to want what I have in order for it to be a romance. Chances are, I don’t want a romance that looks like yours. However, I will say, I’m tired every romance novel having to show nearly the exact same relationship with the same gorgeous white men ending up in the exact same way in order to be successful. I’ve written those, and I will write them again. They’re great, and there are more of those stories to be told. However, they aren’t the only stories to be told, and nor should they be. And, I KNOW I shouldn’t say this out loud, but I will, I’m sorry that there are so many that feel there needs to be a warning label any time a story deviates from that pattern. Unless you’re under 18, my relationship doesn’t require a warning label and neither do my romances.
Okay, I’m done. For now. Rant over. I’m out of time. I have to go do something to further harm the gay movement and shit all over true love and romance. And I think I might be late for my appointment for drowning an assortment of small, fluffy animals. Hopefully not. If I make it in time, I’ll post pictures later this evening….
About Brandon WittBrandon Witt resides in Denver, Colorado. When not snuggled on the couch with his two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan, he is more than likely in front of his computer, nose inches from the screen, fingers pounding they keys. When he manages to tear himself away from his writing addiction, he passionately takes on the role of a special education teacher during the daylight hours.
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