My friend, Erin O’Quinn (who’s also a writer, and straight) and I were talking the other day and I mentioned Polari Magazine to her, since she writes MM erotica, some of it set in the early years of the twentieth century and featuring the use of the Polari dialect. She immediately said she needed to be more ‘immersed than in silly romcoms’ (romantic comedy) because she truly believes all people are equal, or should be. That started a train of thought. (She should know better than to get me thinking, but ….)
She doesn’t realize, as many people outside the LGBTQ [add letters as you see fit] community don’t, that not everything has to be dead serious or political to be a “weapon of war” in the fight for equality. As long as we in “the family” are seen as Other, as different, somehow strange and alien, there will be no equality. Equality is for, well, equals. [Note: in the following paragraphs, I use “us” to mean “society” in general.]
It was all right for Hitler to round up the Jews because they were Other, “not like us”. He wasn’t hurting us. He was ridding us of a threat, a group of people who weren’t quite … people … and who were therefore a threat to all that good, decent folk hold dear. And even if the ovens weren’t really all right, the ghettos were, because they protected us somehow.
It was all right for the KKK to lynch African Americans, because they were Other, “not like us”. They weren’t coming for us. They were ridding us of a threat, a group of people who weren’t quite … people … and who were therefore a threat to all that good, decent folk hold dear. And even if lynching wasn’t really all right, segregation was, because it protected us somehow.
It is all right for the haters, those like Westboro Baptist, to bully, to beat, to criminalize, to deny the LGBTQ community because they are Other, “not like us.” They aren’t bullying and beating and denying us. They are standing for righteousness, ridding us of a threat, a group of people who aren’t quite … people … and who are therefore a threat to all that good, decent folk hold dear. And even if beating isn’t really all right, discrimination is, because it protects us somehow.
When the concentration camps were liberated, and the mass graves found to contain human beings, when there were faces peering back through the barbed wire fences, faces attached to people, by god, people with eyes and arms and toes and hunger and children and dreams that looked just like our eyes and arms and toes and hunger and children and dreams; when the ropes were cut and the trees yielded their grisly fruit, fruit with eyes and arms and toes and hunger and children and dreams that looked just like our eyes and arms and toes and hunger and children and dreams — the “threat” was revealed for what it was: the cowardly grasping fear of a group who had no reason to fear.
When the Matthew Shepards are cut from the fence line, when the graffiti is scrubbed from the porch belonging to the quiet couple in their fifties, when the weeping woman is freed from the cell for trespassing in the house she lived in for twenty years with her lover, when the muck and filth flung by those who find selfhood in hatred is cleared away — the “threat” is revealed for what it is: the same cowardly grasping fear of a group who has no reason to fear.
Every word that Erin writes, that Nya Rawlyns writes, that the many others who write “silly MM (or FF) romcoms” write, every damned word is a revelation of the fact that we are all alike. Gay men and women (use whatever term you like), bisexual, transgendered, queer, asexual men and women (and all the other possibilities) are no different from the rest of society. We want what everyone else wants. Life. Love. A chance to be happy.
Gay men especially suffer from the perception that sex is all they are interested in. This is simply not true. Is sex important to gay men? Sure. Is it important to straight men? Sure. Is it all straight men want? Perhaps at times, yes; but as the overarching drive of their lives? No. Absofuckinglutely not.
And neither is it for gay men. Every “silly romcom” that shows gay men looking for, and finding, love as well as sex proves the haters wrong. We don’t need fewer MM romcoms. We need more. To quote a wise songwriter:
You’d think that people would
Have had enough of silly love songs
But I look around me and I see it isn’t so
Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs
And what’s wrong with that?
[Paul McCartney, “Silly Love Songs”]
Erin and Nya — you ARE activists. Never doubt it. Not for an instant.
(Books by Erin O’Quinn and Nya Rawlyns, individually and as a team, can be found on Amazon. Links to those books placed in the comments would be welcomed.)