This is something I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately and I wanted to make a blog post about it. Bear with me, please, as I sort through these thoughts. I am not married to all of these thoughts. I’m putting them out here for discussion and to own my conflict. Your own thoughts would be lovely.

Facts about me:

1) I live in the South. As irritated as I get about stereotypes and prejudices about Southerners, it remains true that I live in the Bible Belt. The assumption that any given person I talk to on any particular day is Baptist and that they hold all of the beliefs of that tribe isn’t a poor assumption to make.

2) I am not a Christian. I grew up a Christian and considered myself one until I was in my late twenties. I have always been a spiritual person and most days I believe in God–kinda. I am versed enough in scripture to be able to have a conversation with a religious person without offending them. I’m also versed enough to debate their positions very easily and handily win (from my point of view, not usually from theirs). At this point in my life, I’m not sure that I believe in God. Some days I do, some days I don’t. Oddly enough, having a child and watching her grow was the thing that led to my biggest crisis in faith. I watched how she made up things to explain her world, and it was like seeing back in time to when humans made up their current belief systems. She, however, feels in touch with a God and spirit and I don’t argue that perspective with her. I very much miss fully believing in a God and look forward to maybe one day believing absolutely in a God again.

3) Going to church–any church–makes me believe in God less. So, we don’t go to church. For awhile, I was taking my daughter to an Episcopalian church, and we might do that again, mainly for cultural reasons. I felt that it was important that she have an understanding of the predominant faith of our culture, that it was important that if she ever attended church with a friend that she have some idea of how to behave there and what to expect, and that she be grounded in some of the most important symbolic teachings of our culture. Jonah and the whale, Moses and the Red Sea, Mary Magdalene, Judas and the 30 pieces of silver, etc, etc. But going to Church was making me very angry and making me believe less and less in any kind of God. It wasn’t that they were preaching things that were against my morals. Episcopalians are very open-minded folk for the most part. It was just…the ideas they were presenting about Jesus–this is the blood, this is the body–and the rest of it all seemed so incredibly fairy tale like while I was there that it escalated my crisis of faith. Attending church makes me nearly atheist. So, I quit taking her for now.

4) My husband is not a Christian and never, ever, ever goes to church. Ever. Like ever.

5) The above things make us suspicious to our neighbors and I can already see how it impacts how some of them allow their children to interact with us and my daughter. Down the street we have some very conservative Christian neighbors, the closest ones with children Bird’s age, and they allow Bird to play with their girls at their house only. It has led to some uncomfortable moments with Bird’s feelings being hurt that they won’t allow their girls to play at our house.

Part of me thinks that’s fine and good riddance. Part of me feels like it’s incredibly sad to see my child being shut out of people’s lives just because we aren’t Christian. Part of me feels angry. Part of me doesn’t care. Part of me cares a lot.

6) I write gay romance novels (as well as other things, but that’s what I’ve written the most at this point in my career). The why of that is incredibly long and complicated, so let’s just skip that for now. The end result is that I make a very tiny bit of money from these writings and I am not ashamed of what I write. My title for this post says that I am in the closet about my writing, but that’s not entirely accurate. My husband, my good friends, my parents, my in-laws, and my daughter all know that I write romances and that sometimes the characters are gay.

I am not, however, out of the closet about my books to extended family, most distant friends, or even on Facebook/Twitter/my blog with regards to putting a face with my pseudonym. I’ve posted pictures of my kid and husband and myself from behind or otherwise obscured, but I have not posted pictures of my face. I almost did yesterday. I uploaded one to FB of my new bangs. It was a picture that fully showed my face.

My good friend, Random, clicked like on the picture and I thought, “Okay, now, everyone of her friends, of which I have many in common, will see that this Leta Blake person looks a whole lot like their mutual pal, ME.” And then they’d have a look-see and they’d realize I’d written these books. And they’d see they were gay books. And they’d make assumptions. And they’d tell their friends, and they’d mention to other friends, and word would get around, and the next thing I know my kid’s not being invited to her best friends’ slumber parties because her mother writes gay (dirty gay!) books. So, I deleted it.

Here’s a truth, though: I’ve told enough people that I know the word has gotten around to a degree anyway. I’m not a fool. I know my good friends have told one or two of their good friends who probably mentioned it to a friend of theirs or two, and so far there haven’t been repercussions (much) that I know of.

And I’m glad for that. I don’t want repercussions for me or for Bird or for my husband.

7) READ EVERYTHING IN 6 ABOVE AND MARVEL AT HOW PRIVILEGED THAT ENTIRE THOUGHT PROCESS IS!

Because it is. I’m straight and white and married and living a very vanilla life and I get to “pass” in society as someone “respectable enough”. And not having any consequences (so far) associated with writing things that some aspects of society would consider perverted or wrong is very appealing to me and I don’t want to give that up.

At the same time, I’m making money from writing about gay lives. Granted not much, and granted I’m a decent ally, being vocal about gay rights, and I post publicly and often about that on FB under my real name and my pseudonym. I don’t keep my mouth shut when I see homophobia happening in my life and speak up about it to strangers, friends, and family. I support PFLAG and I donate my time, money, and voice to the cause of equality.

But here I am not being really honest about it, right? Here I am only doing what’s “safe”.

There are kids out there with two daddies or two mommies who are, every day, asked to be braver than I’m being daily about my writing. They go to school and they aren’t invited to slumber parties, or kids claim they can’t attend their birthday parties, because they have gay parents. From the outside, I can say, “Screw those families! Who needs that?” But here I sit not being honest about writing books with gay characters? Not being out and proud about that? Wow, hello Miss Privilege! Want a tiara to go with that?

So, I’m conflicted, people. I’ve got a child. She’s seven years old. She’s amazing and often lonely and I hate to see her rejected because people are prejudiced pieces of poo. But at the same time, why do I get to keep her all safe and cozy? Why do I get to take an easier route? Gay people are encouraged to come out every day to promote acceptance in society. I am thinking about what that means.

Those of you who encourage me to keep my mouth zipped, don’t worry. I’m not rushing out to scream in the streets, “I WRITE GAY BOOKS!!!!!” I’m thinking this through, though, and I wanted to acknowledge it. I wanted to open a discussion about it. Because as a mom, I’m conflicted. If it was just me–just me alone–I’d say “Fuck it, fuck them, and here we go. Full open honesty.” But it’s not just me here. My mama bear wants to protect her cub.

Tell me things, folks. Talk to me.

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53 thoughts on “Am I An Ally If I’m In The Closet About My Writing?

  1. I keep quiet about the type of writing I do because of the erotica levels, not the gay. But then I am white, privileged, have open-minded friends and family, grew up in Europe and stopped going to church when I was twelve. Seeing two guys kiss on the bus to school was daily business and no one batted an eye. (When my brother failed to bring him a girlfriend before the age of 20, my mother told me to, “Be sure to say to your brother no one would mind if he were gay!”)

    And my child is 1,5 so no one’s pointing fingers at him yet. Wanting to protect your cub is not only natural, I think it’s pretty much so ingrained you can’t not do it. It’s certainly absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. All we can do is instill values of respect and equality in our kids, do what we can without bringing harm of any kind to others (and that includes protecting your child from bullies) and hope that there comes a future where this closet writing is no longer necessary. That in fifty years time people will look back on the ban on gay marriage the way (most, I should hope) people now look at the ban on interracial marriage.

    1. I keep quiet about the type of writing I do because of the erotica levels, not the gay.

      This is a very good point. I am giving some thought this morning to how I talk about my writing with people. Usually, I tell people that I write romance novels. (Because I do!) Then they ask for my pen name and I tell them that I don’t give that out to people because we live in such a conservative area and my romance novels have a lot of sex in them. I explain that I don’t want the kid to be stigmatized because I write books that some people might find too titillating for propriety. I don’t mention the gay aspect. Partly because I do write het books, too, and partly because I don’t like singling gay romance out as something separate from romance because it shouldn’t be different, and partly because I know if I said gay they’d get up in arms.

      At the same time, I mention to people that I’m writing a gay young adult novel fairly regularly. So, hmm. It’s clear the heat level plays a role in what I’m willing to discuss.

      (When my brother failed to bring him a girlfriend before the age of 20, my mother told me to, “Be sure to say to your brother no one would mind if he were gay!”)

      Adorable mommy! 🙂

      That in fifty years time people will look back on the ban on gay marriage the way (most, I should hope) people now look at the ban on interracial marriage.

      I believe we’re reaching a tipping point. The time can’t come soon enough!

  2. I think a lot of things, most of which mirror what you’ve eloquently presented here.

    I think we live in a society where people – especially authors, actors, and others in the public-ish eye – are expected to put everything about them out there for everyone to see and are often seen as dishonest if they don’t, especially if what they didn’t share has the potential to ruffle feathers.

    I think that expectation is a big part of What’s Wrong With America. I think most of our society could benefit from just learning a little bit of discretion and minding-our-own-damn-business.

    I also think that my soapbox on discretion is easy to hide behind when I under-share – when it might be more beneficial for me to speak up.

    I usually don’t know that this under-sharing has happened until after the fact. My kingdom for a Tardis!

    I simultaneously feel like I owe my LGBTQ friends a big shout of “I’m an Ally!!!” from the rooftops – the sign hanging in my office doesn’t seem to do my love justice – and that coming out is a process – a personal, none-of-anyone’s-business-but-oh-how-privileged-that-sounds process.

    All this to say…*sigh* I don’t know. But I understand a little, and I don’t even have a child. I would probably handle it the same way you are if I did.

    1. I think that expectation is a big part of What’s Wrong With America. I think most of our society could benefit from just learning a little bit of discretion and minding-our-own-damn-business.

      Haha! I hear ya. Hmm. Interesting.

      All this to say…*sigh* I don’t know. But I understand a little, and I don’t even have a child. I would probably handle it the same way you are if I did.

      Thanks for your empathy and considered response. I’m not sure how to proceed. Still thinking it over. 🙂

  3. My situation is kind of the inverse of yours, Leta. I’m “out” as a writer of gay erotic romance to pretty much everyone who knows me except my birth family. (My almost-17-year-old son knows, and thinks it’s cool. His English teacher this year knew, and thought it was cool.) I have pictures of my book covers on my desk at work. And after a conversation I had with my mom and my youngest sister in the car on the way home from my nephew’s high school graduation, I’m thinking that it might not be the biggest disaster since the Titanic if I came out to my birth family. We’ll see. (I also have the great good fortune to live in one of the most LGBT-friendly metropolitan areas in the country — I feel for you living in the South!)

    My problem is more admitting that I write explicit erotic romance. I’d love to get to the point where I don’t choke on the word “erotica” when someone asks “what do you write?”

    1. And I should have added, I’m blessed with a much older child, who is himself very vocally LGBT-supportive. How this happened, I’m not sure, because when he was younger we were members of a very LGBT-intolerant church (which we finally left when priests and their parishioners physically attacked gay rights marchers in the Republic of Georgia).

      1. And I should have added, I’m blessed with a much older child, who is himself very vocally LGBT-supportive.

        My daughter is also very supportive even at the age of seven. She stands up for gender-variant kids at school (a boy wearing earrings in both ears, and girls who dress like/play with boys) to the extent of calling a few on bullying and refusing to let others tease the boy with earrings. She refuses to eat at Chic-Fil-A because of where they donate their money and tells people who do eat there that part of the money they spent is going to hate groups. She understands, though, that some people think it is wrong and she doesn’t get why.

        How this happened, I’m not sure, because when he was younger we were members of a very LGBT-intolerant church (which we finally left when priests and their parishioners physically attacked gay rights marchers in the Republic of Georgia).

        Holy crap! Glad you left that. Wow. 😦

    2. My situation is kind of the inverse of yours, Leta. I’m “out” as a writer of gay erotic romance to pretty much everyone who knows me except my birth family.

      In a way that sounds freeing to me, but I know being in the closet about something important to you is always stressful, no matter who you’re “in the closet” to. Still, given the fact that I’m very adept at hiding aspects of myself from my parents/brother, I’d find it easier to be in the closet (so to speak) to them than it is to be “in the closet” to everyone I meet.

      (I also have the great good fortune to live in one of the most LGBT-friendly metropolitan areas in the country — I feel for you living in the South!)

      Yep!

      My problem is more admitting that I write explicit erotic romance. I’d love to get to the point where I don’t choke on the word “erotica” when someone asks “what do you write?”

      I hear ya. I tell people I write romance. I mean, I’ve told my family I write erotica, but when I talk to random people about my writing, I call it romance…and if I’m feeling very adventurous and/or secure, I’ll call it romantica.

  4. Leta, I don’t think putting your daughter’s best interests above your own, most especially since she’s so young, is the same thing as being closeted or being a poor ally. The fact of the matter is, and we witness the horror of this from time to time, there are adults out there who have no qualms whatsoever about taking their own prejudices out on children. It’s a sad, cold, hard truth that teachers and school administrators have looked the other way as children are being bullied, and that parents have taught their own children that people who look or live or behave differently are somehow less for it, and it’s natural that you wouldn’t want to do anything that would cast a reflection on her because she’s far too young right now to defend herself against the repercussions she might face.

    Yes, the sad fact of the matter is that children of gay and lesbian parents are being asked to be braver than each and every one of us, every single day of their lives, but that’s not because of what their parents do but because of who they love/i>. It may be splitting hairs, but there’s a difference, and yes, it’s unconscionable that we live in a society that can’t accept that love is love and that families are cut from a broader cloth than ever before, but it’s reality, and until your baby is older and well equipped with the strength and eloquence you’ll gift her with to overcome the ignorance of others, you are doing the absolute right thing. You are defending the defenseless on all counts.

    And that’s what counts.

    1. Leta, I don’t think putting your daughter’s best interests above your own, most especially since she’s so young, is the same thing as being closeted or being a poor ally.

      I hear you. I think what I wonder is whether or not it’s in her best interests. This is what I am pondering. I do think that Indra makes a very good point above about the erotic content of the books and how that plays into my choice.

      For example, I openly talk about the young adult book I’m going to write that has gay protags (one of which is a Christian, even!) and don’t keep my lips zipped about that. I also write heterosexual smut–absolute and utter smut, no redeeming qualities as all–under a Top Secret pen name that I tell no one, basically. Why? Because that stuff is filthy, yo. And I think even my writing friends would judge me on it. And it’s nothing I’m proud of. But it pays more money than my pro-novels. Like a lot more.

      So, the gay romantica novels I’ve released are kind of in the middle. They have a lot more sex than the YA book and the sex is of a loving/romantic nature, unlike the het smut I self-pub. So, some of what I’m parsing now, today, is how much of this is gay and how much is the heat level? If it was heterosexual romantica, woudl I be as hush-hush as I am? *ponders* And if not, then what does that mean for me?

      As I said to Indra above, usually, I tell random people or Bird’s friends’ moms, etc, that I write romance novels. (Because I do!) Then they ask for my pen name and I tell them that I don’t give that out to people because we live in such a conservative area and my romance novels have a lot of sex in them. I explain that I don’t want the kid to be stigmatized because I write books that some people might find too titillating for propriety. I don’t mention the gay aspect. Partly because I do write het books, too, and partly because I don’t like singling gay romance out as something separate from romance because it shouldn’t be different, and partly because I know if I said gay they’d get up in arms.

      The fact of the matter is, and we witness the horror of this from time to time, there are adults out there who have no qualms whatsoever about taking their own prejudices out on children.

      I read just the other day about an author who had been open about her m/m books and the soccer coach benched her daughter after he found out, and a teacher took to bullying her daughter at school after she found out. It gave me pause, that’s for sure.

      it’s natural that you wouldn’t want to do anything that would cast a reflection on her because she’s far too young right now to defend herself against the repercussions she might face.

      You know, I agree in many ways, but I’m also thinking about my transgender/gay (not sure which yet) cousin. He’s ten and his folks force him into gender conformity to keep from having to deal with the repercussions at school. And I feel so uncomfortable with keeping him in that box. (We’ve been instructed not to buy him ‘girl’ toys anymore. I now buy him art supplies because I can’t buy him dresses anymore.) I know it’s not the same, but am I using the same excuse her to keep a measure of privilege? And is that really wrong? Life is unfucking fair. Some people have it easier than others. I have a cush day job compared to 99% of people in the world. Does that mean I should give up the privilege I am afforded by said job, go out and find something harder to do because it’s not fair that I get to sit in air-conditioned bliss while other people have to work their buns off for less money?

      I know, it’s not the same thing at all. And, uh, I might be rambling now! I am rambling, aren’t I? 🙂 LOL! Anyway, it just feels to me like I’m trying to balance what is right and not focus on what is fair, because fair doesn’t exist. So, is keeping mum right? I’d keep mum about the filthy het books I write. But would I keep mum if I was writing het romantic (which I am, it’s just not pubbed yet)? Maybe. I need to examine that honestly.

      until your baby is older and well equipped with the strength and eloquence you’ll gift her with to overcome the ignorance of others, you are doing the absolute right thing. You are defending the defenseless on all counts.

      I definitely work with her constantly on thinking through what’s right and what’s wrong, how to cope with the Bible Belt we live in. It’s a difficult tightrope to walk. Thank you for your thoughtful comment!!

  5. it wasn’t until I discovered mm romance is that it gave me the courage to come out. I’ve been writing them at least in the fan fiction genre since the late 90’s. I wasn’t brave enough to come out until 2010.I’m the mother of three small children ages 7, 6, and 3. my sexuality has been a somewhat abstract thing as I’m not dating anyone and really have no plans to the near future. I am however very vocal in the lgbtq community. this does not make me popular in my small Missouri town. It’s a struggle to find a balance between my various roles writer mother lesbian. It’s disheartening to see how others treat my children because of my life choices. I’m an ordained minister that doesn’t go to church at times I’m not even sure I believe in God anymore. It makes me sick how people weild the name of God in anger and fear and hate. I walked away from the church long time ago I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back. My children attend church with my mother occasionally to give them a cultural sense of identity, but I also strive to teach them diversity and acceptance. I’m not going to stop living my life because of other people’s hate. I can’t. I owe it to myself and my children to be honest. I can’t say whether you are right or wrong, all I can say is you have to live the best way you can. Best of luck.

    1. it wasn’t until I discovered mm romance is that it gave me the courage to come out.

      *cheers* 🙂

      I am however very vocal in the lgbtq community. this does not make me popular in my small Missouri town. It’s a struggle to find a balance between my various roles writer mother lesbian. It’s disheartening to see how others treat my children because of my life choices.

      Oh, man. *sigh* This world, this world.

      I’m an ordained minister that doesn’t go to church at times I’m not even sure I believe in God anymore. It makes me sick how people weild the name of God in anger and fear and hate.

      It is utterly sickening and, to me, completely delusional and twisted. It makes me feel sick too. The Episcopal Church wasn’t like that, though. I just couldn’t stop thinking about how it sounded like a load of poo and finding all the things I didn’t believe and taking apart every bit of the liturgy. It just really undermined my tenuous spirituality.

      I walked away from the church long time ago I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back. My children attend church with my mother occasionally to give them a cultural sense of identity,

      If my MIL went to a different church, I’d probably try to get her to take Bird. Alas, I’m not fond of her congregation or her minister. Although, recently, after hearing some conversations from her very conservative cousin and after hearing a Baptist girl at school declare things about sin and the devil, Bird announced to me, “I just don’t think we’re church people, Mom.” Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’d like her to feel connected to God and church. I wish I still did.

      I’m not going to stop living my life because of other people’s hate. I can’t. I owe it to myself and my children to be honest. I can’t say whether you are right or wrong, all I can say is you have to live the best way you can. Best of luck.

      Thank you! I am going to continue to think this through. I do the best I can with what I’ve got. 🙂 Thank you so much for the encouragement and for sharing your story.

  6. Leta, I love that you have invented straight-person guilt (I think it is cousin to white guilt and survivors guilt). You are an amazing ally – never doubt that.

    I am a big fan of “omission is okay, but never lie.” It’s a great way to ease into an out life. I have seen, firsthand, that living out can change how people see the LGBT community. It makes the exotic and scary – boring and commonplace. (We get a lot of people commenting on how “normal” we are.)

    The question I would pose is this: Just like those parents don’t want their kids at your house, because they are afraid of what their children might see or hear, should you have the same concerns about what your daughter is learning in their homes?

    1. Leta, I love that you have invented straight-person guilt (I think it is cousin to white guilt and survivors guilt).

      Haha! I doubt I invented it! Probably just a more recent sufferer of it! 😛

      You are an amazing ally – never doubt that.

      Aw, thank you. That means a lot to hear from you, Anja. I am so proud of you and Cris. So happy for your marriage. I was also selfishly so happy you recorded it and made it available online, not only because then I got to see it and experience it with you, but because I could show Bird and let her see two women who love each other declaring their devotion and commitment. It was such a gift. Thank you!

      I have seen, firsthand, that living out can change how people see the LGBT community. It makes the exotic and scary – boring and commonplace. (We get a lot of people commenting on how “normal” we are.)

      LOL! For some reason, the idea of you and Cris being scary or exotic cracks me up. I guess I can see how people raised in fear and under the sway of their cracked-out religious beliefs might think of abstract lesbians as terrifying. I’m glad you’re able to show them how wrong their beliefs are.

      The question I would pose is this: Just like those parents don’t want their kids at your house, because they are afraid of what their children might see or hear, should you have the same concerns about what your daughter is learning in their homes?

      Oh, this is me, Anja! LOL! We talk about it, yo! One issue, not mentioned in this post, is that the mister’s sister and her husband are super-crazy conservative Christians. So we’ve got ’em in the family!!! Yikes! From the time Bird was very young, I’ve made sure to talk to her about these issues. We talk about what her cousin might tell her. One of the things we come back to time and again is that anything anyone–neighbors, cousins, aunts, uncles–tells her about God that makes her feel afraid is NOT TRUE. We talk about how these folks don’t believe that men should love other men, or women should love other women, and think people will go to hell for that. We talk about why that’s not true. We talk about the Bible and the contents of it, and how Jesus doesn’t talk about gay people ever and in fact commands us to love everyone as we do ourselves. We talk about Leviticus and how if someone says that it says in Leviticus that being gay is a sin, then she should ask about shellfish, cutting hair, women who leave the house during their period, etc, etc. I leave no stone unturned!

      When she comes back from a visit with either neighbors or cousins, I ask if anything made her uncomfortable and if so, we talk about that. I ask if they said anything about sin, or God, or hell. We talk about all of that. Unlike the neighbors, I am not one to avoid the issues when it comes to Bird. I address them with her. Unlike the neighbors, I’m not ashamed of sex and my kid knows what it is now, so we can talk at length about sexuality. Unlike them, I’m not trying to keep her from being exposed to things, but instead trying to show her how to deal with those people.

      So, yep, baby, I got it covered. 😉

  7. I’m conflicted too. I kept quiet at first because I grew up in a Christian household (before it came to develop the negative connotations that I associate with that descriptor now) and live and work in a conservative community. I consider myself a Christian–it’s the Church itself I cannot support. Like you, attending Church makes me believe in God less. My BF considers himself an atheist, and he is one of the most loving, caring, *tolerant* persons I know.

    My friends knew what I wrote. My BF actually read some of my stories prior to our first date–and that was five years ago. Some of my family knew. I actually got a little complacent because by far and large, the reaction of people on finding out what I write was pretty tame.

    Until I had one friend liken M/M romance to necrophilia and declare she couldn’t read anything I wrote because the whole idea disgusted her so. And another friend of more than 20 years–who also happened to be a professional colleague–dropped me like a hot rock on discovering what I wrote. And then I noticed a moral turpitude clause in my contract that meant that writing M/M romance would give my boss grounds for firing me without any other cause.

    As a single woman of an indeterminate age, who is not yet making enough money to quit her day job to stay home and write, I feel that I have no other choice but to stay in the writing closet for now. But I also believe that every book we write, every time we stand up for our friends and family who are part of the GLBT community, every time we take Congress to task for their stance on equal rights, we are bringing the day a little bit closer where other privileged white women say, “You know what? She’s right.”

    And choose to stand with us.

    My hope, anyway.

    Excellent post. Thank you for bringing this topic out in the open.

    1. I’m conflicted too.

      I’m glad I’m not alone. ❤

      I kept quiet at first because I grew up in a Christian household (before it came to develop the negative connotations that I associate with that descriptor now)

      *sigh* It’s sad isn’t it? I read an article recently about how there is basically a mass exodus of young from the church and that so much of it is because of the way the church is handling this gay thing.

      My BF considers himself an atheist, and he is one of the most loving, caring, *tolerant* persons I know.

      Isn’t it amazing how that works? So many of my atheist friends are so much more loving, caring, and tolerant than many of the self-proclaimed Christians I know. On the other hand, I have a Jewish friend who works in documentary film-making about the problems facing women all over the world (sexual slavery, poverty, lack of education, etc), and she told me that despite still thinking of Christianity as this bizarre fairy tale that she can’t really figure out or grasp, when her documentary team arrives somewhere, like Cambodia or Kenya, the people there in these impoverished places doing the actual work…are almost all Christians. She said you don’t see Buddhists there, or Muslims, or Hindus, or Jews. It’s Christians. And she said that it has given her a better perspective on Christians than she’s had in a long time. And most of them, it seems. are of the good variety–really there to do the work and not just to try to evangelize.

      Wow, I’m off-topic! LOL!

      My friends knew what I wrote. My BF actually read some of my stories prior to our first date–and that was five years ago.

      Adorable! My husband is very supportive of my writing in that he makes time for it, works to give me time to write, etc, but he reads none of it.

      Some of my family knew. I actually got a little complacent because by far and large, the reaction of people on finding out what I write was pretty tame.

      Ha! Yay! I would love that to be the case for me, too. Part of me wants to just go with it and not stress.

      Until I had one friend liken M/M romance to necrophilia and declare she couldn’t read anything I wrote because the whole idea disgusted her so.

      WOW.

      And another friend of more than 20 years–who also happened to be a professional colleague–dropped me like a hot rock on discovering what I wrote.

      WOW. 😦 😦

      And then I noticed a moral turpitude clause in my contract that meant that writing M/M romance would give my boss grounds for firing me without any other cause.

      UGH. 😦 I’m pretty lucky in that I doubt I’d get fired for what I write. It could, however, cause trouble for my boss, and I keep that in mind.

      As a single woman of an indeterminate age, who is not yet making enough money to quit her day job to stay home and write, I feel that I have no other choice but to stay in the writing closet for now.

      Yeah, the job loss issue is huge. 😦

      Excellent post. Thank you for bringing this topic out in the open.

      Thank you! I am really stunned by the number of responses. It seems I’ve struck a chord!

  8. Wow. I just have to say that this post is about exactly what I have been struggling with myself. I also write gay romance (which is pretty steamy), and have considered whether I should continue to do so while “in the closet” as a writer. I am also white, straight, married, with small children and living in suburbia. Luckily, I live in an area which is pretty LGBT friendly. I am pretty open about being an atheist, so that’s not an issue.

    Once comment which another blogger made to me was essentially, ‘you are helping the LGBT community simply by writing stories in which gay people are real, normal, human’. So that made me feel a little better. But like you, I still wonder if I should be doing this, and making (not much but some) money by selling “their” stories.

    My other issue is just plain embarrassment. Not about the gay part, but the erotica. No one (except my husband) knows that I write. I dread the day someone puts two and two together. I have only been doing this a short time, so it hasn’t been an issue yet, but I’m sure someone will out me someday. What will I do? What will they think? I’m proud of my stories, but at the same time I realize not everyone accepts the kind of thing I write. And even if they do, I don’t know If I want them knowing I write it!

    I am so interested to know what decision you will make (and why)!

    1. Wow. I just have to say that this post is about exactly what I have been struggling with myself.

      I am so glad that I’m not alone in this! 🙂

      I also write gay romance (which is pretty steamy),

      Indra above makes a very good point about the steaminess factor and how it plays a role in all of this. As I said to her, I am giving some thought this morning to how I talk about my writing with people. Usually, I tell people that I write romance novels. (Because I do!) Then they ask for my pen name and I tell them that I don’t give that out to people because we live in such a conservative area and my romance novels have a lot of sex in them. I explain that I don’t want the kid to be stigmatized because I write books that some people might find too titillating for propriety. I don’t mention the gay aspect. Partly because I do write het books, too, and partly because I don’t like singling gay romance out as something separate from romance because it shouldn’t be different, and partly because I know if I said gay they’d get up in arms.

      At the same time, I mention to people that I’m writing a gay young adult novel fairly regularly. So, hmm. It’s clear the heat level plays a role in what I’m willing to discuss.

      Once comment which another blogger made to me was essentially, ‘you are helping the LGBT community simply by writing stories in which gay people are real, normal, human’. So that made me feel a little better. But like you, I still wonder if I should be doing this, and making (not much but some) money by selling “their” stories.

      Yeah, for me, if it was just about me, I’d probably go balls out with it. But given that my child is already in the midst of learning to cope with having very different beliefs than a lot of her friends, I’m trying to figure out where the boundaries should be placed. She already stands up for gender-variant kids at school, refuses to eat at Chik-Fil-A, and refutes people who tell her that being gay is wrong or against God. (She also disputes the existence of hell. Heh.)

      Part of me feels like it’s just one more step forward and that maybe I need to wait a few more years until she’s more sturdy. At the same time, I know that tween years are the absolute worst for a girl child, and having a mom do something weird and “sexual” (<–quotes used appropriately!) in some public way during those years would be difficult.

      I think it is the heat level of the writing. As I answer these comments, that's becoming more and more clear to me. I think as I work on my YA gay book, I'll just talk about it all regular-like. Hmm. *considers*

      I am so interested to know what decision you will make (and why)!

      I’ll keep ya in the loop! 🙂 Thank you so much for the wonderful comment! It’s good to know I’m in this with other folks!

  9. I’m in the same boat as you are. I live in a conservative rural area in a mostly conservative state. On top of that, I teach. I’d love to tell everyone what I write, because I’m proud to be a writer of gay romance, but I’m afraid of the consequences professionally if I did. I love my job, and we need the income it provides, so I can’t afford to stir up a bunch of angry parents who’ve heard that a woman who writes THAT sort of book teaches their children.

    My close friends know, and that’s it. However, I do let other friends, and my family, know that I’m for equal marriage. That much, at least, I can be upfront about.

    It’s a tough situation, but know that a lot of us understand where you’re coming from–both the hiding and the guilt. :/

    1. I’m in the same boat as you are.

      It seems so many of us are!

      I live in a conservative rural area in a mostly conservative state. On top of that, I teach.

      Oh, yikes. Yes, people are dreadful witch-hunters when it comes to teachers at times.

      I can’t afford to stir up a bunch of angry parents who’ve heard that a woman who writes THAT sort of book teaches their children.

      And I’d love to tell you that you’re delusional, but teachers have been fired for less.

      My close friends know, and that’s it. However, I do let other friends, and my family, know that I’m for equal marriage. That much, at least, I can be upfront about.

      That’s awesome. I’m glad you can at least be that real and honest! 🙂

      It’s a tough situation, but know that a lot of us understand where you’re coming from–both the hiding and the guilt. :/

      *nods* I definitely feel less alone after this post!

  10. Nicely written. If you’ve been more comfortable for whatever reason writing your gay books and keeping it to yourself then so be it. If it’s time for whatever reason for you to take a stand and have a public persona as an author of gay books then so be it. 🙂 To me anyway it all has to fit together (life that is) at whatever time and place we’re in. There’s always risk, reward and consequences of some sort in the choices we make

    1. Nicely written.

      Aw, thanks! I’ve missed ya around these parts, Pete. I guess I haven’t written up much worth replying to in awhile, though, so I get it. 🙂

      To me anyway it all has to fit together (life that is) at whatever time and place we’re in. There’s always risk, reward and consequences of some sort in the choices we make

      Indeed. Thinking through this has been interesting. So far, the insights from this discussion include the fact that it might be the heat level of the writing more than the gayness of it that is the hang-up. I need to consider whether or not my het writings of the same heat level would get the same kind of discretion from me.

      Thanks, Pete!

  11. I don’t write gay romance but I do read it, and review it. I’m only ‘out’ to a few of my friends, who don’t really understand what it is, not my work colleagues at all. No one would understand, that’s the problem. Even my husband doesn’t like what I read, and it causes arguments sometimes. I don’t have any children and still I skulk around hiding what I read, I can’t imagine how hard it is for anyone with children. I read so many wonderful books and find it sad I can’t shout it from the rooftops.

    1. I don’t write gay romance but I do read it, and review it.

      Yay for readers! And reviewers! 🙂 Thank you for that. 🙂

      I’m only ‘out’ to a few of my friends, who don’t really understand what it is, not my work colleagues at all. No one would understand, that’s the problem.

      You know, I totally get this. At the same time, I wonder if that’s true because my experience is that it’s true some of the time, but not all of the time. I thought my parents wouldn’t get it. As it turns out, my father doesn’t–but doesn’t mind, and just shakes his head and frowns–but my mom? Turns out she’s been gobbling up m/m romance for years! LOL!

      Now, admittedly, I’ve never told one of my close friends about it and had them respond with, “Gosh, I’ve been reading a ton of m/m romance in secret!” But I’ve not had any of my close friends say, “Ew, gross. Ugh.” But then I’ve definitely chosen wisely in who I’ve talked to about it.

      Even my husband doesn’t like what I read, and it causes arguments sometimes.

      Apparently, my father argues with my mom, too, so she reads it less now. 😦 I am so sorry you have that burden to deal with. Is it a situation where you could talk like grown-ups about it? Is he homophobic? Is he able to listen and not get angry or is he very threatened by gay sex?

      I don’t have any children and still I skulk around hiding what I read, I can’t imagine how hard it is for anyone with children. I read so many wonderful books and find it sad I can’t shout it from the rooftops.

      I hear ya. I do understand. *big hugs* We’re gonna all muddle through this together and end up in a better world one day. I just know it.

    1. Hugs you… remember, at the moment you may not be able to be out… but soon…. and just because you can’t shout everything from the rooftops today that doesn’t make you any less of an ally.

      I’m excited to read your post about this, RJ. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing my entry and for spreading the word. It’s been great seeing so many diverse opinions.

      I, too, am excited for that future day when we are living in a better world. I believe it will come. Hopefully in our lifetime because things are moving so fast. Ten years ago, I had no hope we’d be where we are today.

  12. I found this post through Rj Soctts fb page.

    I think you are doing great. You have a child to protect and nothing is worse than seeing your kid hurt. And if you can still keep hurt away from her, do it. There will come the day when you have to accept anyway that she’ll get hurt because of other things, like bigotted parents.
    You do not hide your opinion, you are open about your support so you are not a closeted ally but a closeted writer. And you have a reason for that. That’s okay, not everybody needs to know everything about you. Or does your neighbour tell you that they like spanking? Or sorts his cans in alphabethical order? No.

    Everybody has a right of privacy and while I can’t even imagine the problems you face (I live in Switzerland), I understand your hesitation.

    I think it’s wildly known that for example Amy Lane lost her teaching job because of her writing. So as long as something like this can happen – do what you can but keep your family save, too.

    And every m/m romance that reaches a new reader, opens a mind, convinces one mother to educate their kids more tolerant, is a contribution and a support.

    1. I found this post through Rj Soctts fb page.

      I’m really grateful to her for sharing it! 🙂 Hello! Welcome!

      I think you are doing great.

      Aw, thank you! I work hard to educate my girl so that she can become a good ally as she grows, too. Or, heck, for all I know, a member of the QUILTBAG community. She seems to identify as straight for now, but when talking to her, I always say, “If you choose to get married to a man or a woman, blah blah blah” and she says, “Mom, I like boys.” And I say, “Yes, but if you ever want to marry a woman this xyz thing still applies and blah blah blah.” We watched our friends Anja and Cris’s wedding on livestream and she said, “Mom if I grow up to be like them (i.e. gay) will I need to go to another state to get married?” And we talked about that. I try to make sure she’s got the knowledge she needs to be whoever she is going to be and to grow up to support her friends and be secure in herself. It’s a big job. 🙂 I hope I’m doing okay.

      You have a child to protect and nothing is worse than seeing your kid hurt. And if you can still keep hurt away from her, do it. There will come the day when you have to accept anyway that she’ll get hurt because of other things, like bigotted parents.

      This is true. I think that what’s most important to me is giving her coping skills to deal with the hurt. That involves knowledge. So we talk a lot about what these other people believe, why they believe it, why we don’t, and I am hopeful that in the future she will have enough information about all of that to do combat these beliefs herself.

      You do not hide your opinion, you are open about your support so you are not a closeted ally but a closeted writer. And you have a reason for that.

      I think you make a good point. Also, Indra above brought up the heat level of books. I happily discuss my gay YA book with just about anyone. It’s the romantica books I don’t talk about. Is that because it’s gay, though? When my het romantica books come out, I might have more of an idea how much of my silence is the gay and how much is the heat.

      That’s okay, not everybody needs to know everything about you. Or does your neighbour tell you that they like spanking?

      At first, I was like, “Well, moms do discuss discipline of the kids and some do talk about spanking…” and THEN I realized you mean THAT kind of spanking. *waggles eyebrows* Ha. Some do! But most don’t share that kind of thing, no.

      At the same time, what I write about often has nothing to do with what I, myself, me and I want to have done to my very own body/person, and many time I write about things I don’t like but my character finds hot. That’s a whole other can of writerly worms, though! Convincing people that I’m not writing about myself or about them. Heh.

      I think it’s wildly known that for example Amy Lane lost her teaching job because of her writing.

      I had no idea. Ugh. 😦

      And every m/m romance that reaches a new reader, opens a mind, convinces one mother to educate their kids more tolerant, is a contribution and a support.

      I surely hope so. Thank you so much for this wonderful and thought-provoking comment. I really appreciate it!

  13. When I started writing MM romance in 2003, I did not know there were other writers out there. I did not want to put my real name on my books because of my kids and my ex-husband. It wasn’t until my fourth book that I put my picture on the back of my books.

    Shortly after self-publishing my first book, I joined MCC (Metropolitan Community Church). I’ve never made a secret of what I write and several church members are fans. One guy introduces me as the straight grandmother who writes gay porn. Of course, he’s never read my books.

    When I joined FB, I intended to keep my two world separate, but that didn’t happen. I’ve never had any repercussions from FB friends of my real persona who found out about my writing.

    Of course, my kids don’t advertise my writing nor do my grandkids. But I’m 70 years old – I’m old enough to not care what they think.

    1. When I started writing MM romance in 2003, I did not know there were other writers out there. I did not want to put my real name on my books because of my kids and my ex-husband. It wasn’t until my fourth book that I put my picture on the back of my books.

      I was recently asked to participate in an article about mothers that write erotica. I was one of four authors, I believe, asked to participate and I was the only one who didn’t provide a picture for the article. I was also the only m/m author. That is part of what got me thinking about this. These women writing heterosexual erotica all had little kids, too, and there they were in a national parenting magazine with their faces right next to their pen names. And I didn’t have my picture. Why was that? It started this thought process, essentially.

      Shortly after self-publishing my first book, I joined MCC (Metropolitan Community Church). I’ve never made a secret of what I write and several church members are fans. One guy introduces me as the straight grandmother who writes gay porn. Of course, he’s never read my books.

      Adorable!

      Of course, my kids don’t advertise my writing nor do my grandkids. But I’m 70 years old – I’m old enough to not care what they think.

      Awesome! One day, I hope to get to that point. I’m not sure when that day will be, but I’m thinking it over. Thank you, Alix, for sharing your story with me. 🙂

  14. I live in the south, but I am lucky enough not to live in the Bible Belt. (I’m still quietly working on a way to create a 51st state which will include the lower 3 counties in Mississippi, and include Slidell and New Orleans, Louisiana.) I was raised Catholic, and am as non-practicing as they come. In truth, if you told me I had to declare a faith, I’d probably spend hours discussing the pros and cons of being Wiccan v. Druid. My friends, those that are truly my friends, know what I write and encourage me. I am not a big fish. I’m just a tiny fish who is honored to be able to swim in the same pond as some amazing authors. My first published story was a MM romance that saw the light of day thanks to Sara York in the IRM anthology Winter Heat. Do I hope to one day expand what genres I write in? Absolutely! Is my story written under my given name? No, it isn’t. Why? Because I know that a pen name helps readers readily identify what genre/sub genre an author is writing in. There are several NY Times best sellers that pen titles under different names. If you grab a copy of a Jayne Ann Krentz book, you know it’s going to be contemporary. If you get an Amanda Quick, it’s a historical. Nothing can be more detrimental, IMO, than to have a reader grab the next book released by their favorite author only to discover the book is hardcore…the language is blunt, the characters are rough, and the sex (OMG there is s-e-x in this) is so hot it’s about to melt the Kindle. Everyone writes and presents their writing, and, in turn, themselves however they need to. We can only live one moment at a time, and we are the only one walking this particular path. Having to judge and gage how who we are and what we write may or may not be received, how it will effect the people in our lives (spouse, children, partner), the impact it will have on our job are all important considerations. We do what we need to in order to get along with the people around us, to keep ourselves, our children, and those close to us as safe as possible. Should it be this way? Personally, no. And hopefully, one day soon, it won’t have to be the crazy relative that needs to be hidden away before anyone realizes they belong to us. Until then, write, encourage, and be true to you.

    1. I live in the south, but I am lucky enough not to live in the Bible Belt.

      Lucky indeed! 🙂 I love where I live and I will defend the South and Southerners against many stereotypes, but the Bible Belt is a thing that I can’t really escape about the place.

      In truth, if you told me I had to declare a faith, I’d probably spend hours discussing the pros and cons of being Wiccan v. Druid.

      What a fun thing to contemplate. If I had to declare a faith…gosh. I’m not sure. I can’t imagine what I’d claim right now. This makes me sad. I used to feel so in-tune with God, spirit, the energy of the earth and world. *sigh*

      My friends, those that are truly my friends, know what I write and encourage me.

      Mine, too. 🙂

      Is my story written under my given name? No, it isn’t. Why? Because I know that a pen name helps readers readily identify what genre/sub genre an author is writing in.

      Yes, I’m saving my real name for the children’s books I’m writing with Bird.

      We can only live one moment at a time, and we are the only one walking this particular path.

      *nods* Yes, that’s beautifully put. We are the only ones on our path. Being gentle and loving to ourselves is important. Being brave is important, too. Must find that balance on the path I’m on.

      And hopefully, one day soon, it won’t have to be the crazy relative that needs to be hidden away before anyone realizes they belong to us.

      I, uh, suspect I’m that crazy relative. 😉

  15. I am also writing in the closet. A very few close friends know I write and what I write and in one case now treats me like a freak because of it. My family don’t know and it is a can of worms I am not prepared to open at this time.

    It is a tough choice for anyone to make and you have to think of yourself and those you love.

    If it makes me not an ally, so be it.

    1. I am also writing in the closet.

      It seems so many of us struggle with the logistics of how to talk about this honestly.

      A very few close friends know I write and what I write and in one case now treats me like a freak because of it.

      I’m sorry that you lost this person and have suffered this pain. I also think that you deserve a better friend than that. ❤

      As an aside, because it's something I'm trying to figure out for myself, do you feel like that person reacted due to heat level or gayness? Or the combo?

      My family don’t know and it is a can of worms I am not prepared to open at this time.

      We have to choose our battles. Energy can sometimes be better spent on something else, especially if you feel like revealing this might make you somehow unsafe.

      It is a tough choice for anyone to make and you have to think of yourself and those you love.

      It is. It’s a hard thing to find balance for, but I’m determined to figure it out for myself.

      If it makes me not an ally, so be it.

      I think that as kimberkahn says above, we all have our path and there’s no way anyone else can know your path. I believe that you are doing what is best for you. It’s clear that you’re a loving woman who believes in equality. I think you’ll continue on your path and journey and hopefully we’ll all end up in a better world where this is a moot point. ❤

  16. I am not a writer, but I AM a reader. I read A LOT! Most of what I read are M/M books. Now, I also live in the South and I totally get where you are coming from. I am a white, liberal, athiest married to a black man raising two lovely little brown babies in the middle of the bible belt in Florida! Talk about uncomfortable on a daily basis. I have only told a few of my friends what I read. I get the reaction of “ewwwwww” most of the time. This is why I have my facebook “family”. I am bold to the point of wearing a “Straight but not narrow” t-shirt, complete with rainbows on it. I also have a beautiful red t shirt with the equal sign on it. I have taught my children to be inclusive and to love everyone. However, I have also had to teach them there is a time and a place to talk about their beliefs. I have been told, in front of my children, that I am a bad mother for “supporting the gays”. So, I get it. I really do. As far as you “coming out” as a M/M author, I think you have to do what you thing is best for you and for your child. I don’t know if there is a right or a wrong answer here, only one that works for you.

    1. I am not a writer, but I AM a reader. I read A LOT!

      Hooray! I love readers! 😀

      I am a white, liberal, athiest married to a black man raising two lovely little brown babies in the middle of the bible belt in Florida! Talk about uncomfortable on a daily basis.

      *high fives you*

      I have only told a few of my friends what I read. I get the reaction of “ewwwwww” most of the time.

      😦 Really? This is disappointing. I hope we get past this reaction sometime.

      However, I have also had to teach them there is a time and a place to talk about their beliefs.

      Yes. This is something I’m working on, too. I’ve talked to her about the old adage re: politics, religion, and sex not being appropriate conversations with most people most of the time. Basically, I’ve said that we’re not ashamed of what we believe, who we vote for, and what we know about sex, but that it isn’t other people’s business and that if we want to enjoy our time with other people, these are usually topics to avoid. It’s a start.

      At the same time, she’s very much a little activist. She stands up for gender-variant kids at school (including one boy who bullied her for most of the year; she wouldn’t let other kids give him crap for wearing earrings) and won’t eat Chic-Fil-A because she knows where they donate money, and she has argued with her conservative cousin about gay marriage, citing the Bible to refute her cousin’s points. She’s seven, mind you. So, we’re doing well here.

      My concern is going to be surviving the tween years when kids are so miserable and girls especially. Ugh. Having your mother do anything remotely weird is going to be hard during that time.

      As far as you “coming out” as a M/M author, I think you have to do what you thing is best for you and for your child. I don’t know if there is a right or a wrong answer here, only one that works for you.

      I think the conclusion I’m drawing from the discussion so far is that it might be more a heat-level thing than a gay thing. I do talk about the YA book I’m writing about gay kids. I am now trying to deduce if the het romantica I’m working on would make me want to stay mum like the gay romantica does. That’s kind of the sticking point for me. *ponders*

      Thanks for this comment! I truly appreciate you sharing your story!

  17. I’m a Texan. My family’s superreligious. I have two daughters, now ages 10 and 12. I don’t go to church anymore, but I allow them to go. Like you, I continue to have some sense of nostalgia for a time when I felt connected to God. Unlike you, I’m not straight or cisgender. I’m queer and trans. It took me a long time to come to terms with that, and it’s caused distress to my kids trying to cope with it, but it is what it is. I also write gay romance novels.

    I can identify with a lot of what you’re saying, but for obvious reasons I was never really allowed a place of privilege with it. I will admit that it galls me when people pretend to be an ally or want to think of themselves as enlightened or not objectifying or whatever else they like to think and then write in the closet. I personally find it distasteful and I don’t buy books by those people. I don’t really want to talk to them or be friends with them. They make me feel like there’s no safe space in gay romance for the actual LGBT people.

    However, I understand why they don’t out themselves. (Well, why some of them don’t. Others are a bit beyond me.) It’s a messy process, and LGBT people themselves often take a while to reach the point where they’re ready. If you’re being an ally in your daily life without saying you write that genre, you’re already doing something to walk your talk. If you’re speaking up, not turning away, when you see injustice done in your community and using your real life voice, you’ve already put yourself on the shit list for a lot of religious conservatives in your real life.

    At that point, I wonder what more damage it could do to come out about what you write. Is there that big a difference between speaking up in real life about homophobia and equal rights and admitting what you write? Would the backlash for your child be that much worse? If you’re being honest about your activism level, then you’re already half out. What’s keeping you back?

    As a parent, I sympathize with your desire to protect your kid. But before long, the kid’s friends are going to wield more influence than you do. This isn’t bad parenting or anything you can avoid. That’s how we’re biologically wired, and when puberty kicks in, well…

    What kind of friends do you want to have cultivated for your child? What kind of adult do you want her to become? Do you want to have raised a child who will be at the forefront of social justice in the coming years or one who will be left behind when the sexual revolution advances us past this outdated homophobia?

    Be the change you want to see in the world, and most importantly…Be the change you want to see in your child’s world. Your example — how you live your truth — is the most important tool you can give her. More important than playdates or being accepted by neighbors, more important than feeling comfortable, you can show your daughter an up-close example of standing for what’s right even when it’s hard.

    1. Quite a while back, my daughter was 4, and my local councilor, said as a white mother with white kids I should send my daughter to the local school which was 95% Asian, and where English was taught as a second language. When I asked why, he simply said, because someone has to be first.

      I don’t regret for one minute that I sent my daughter to a predominantly white, and classy neighbourhood school where English was firmly the first language. Do you know WHY I dont regret it?

      Because after seeing her bullied to the point of having PTSD for three years at senior school (12,13,14), for being *quiet*, can you imagine what would have happened to her at 4 for being completely and utterly different and a fish out of water?

      We are hard wired to protect our kids. I wouldn’t sacrifice my daughter on the alter of trying to affect change at a young age. I didn’t have kids to intentionally put them in harms way.

      I believe my daughter is part of a very different generation here in the UK where there is a growing sense that sexual orientation is actually irrelevant. She will affect change in her own way.

      1. I’m so sorry to hear that your daughter went through such a rough time, RJ. We definitely get fierce about our children, don’t we? Thank you, also, for linking this post. I’ve had a great time with this discussion!

    2. First, I want to thank you for commenting here and being so open and honest about your feelings. I appreciate that very much. 🙂

      I would also like to encourage you to remember that you don’t actually know me and that, as far as I’m aware, anyway, your knowledge of me and this situation is limited to what is represented in this post. That is, obviously, a very, very small part of the reality of who I am. So, I’d like to go into this discussion with the idea that we don’t know each other very well, and that many of the assumptions made might not be necessarily accurate.

      Let me tell you some things about myself:

      1. On several occasions I’ve gone and spoken directly to state and local representatives in a public forum, delivering speeches in opposition to the draconian legislation put forth by my state in recent years.

      2. I’ve attended many PFLAG meetings and donated money and time to their endeavors.

      3. I speak out and confront homophobia (and sexism and racism) daily when presented with it.

      4. I actively work to educate my child so that she is on her way to being either a good ally or a good member of the QUILTBAG community herself.

      5. I give money and voice to the cause of equality whenever I can–and I mean that beyond marriage equality, though that is a strong focus, of course.

      These are all short sentences that actually encompass a huge scope of who I am. I am not saying I’m a good ally. That’s not for me to judge and I don’t question your right as a queer person to determine I’m not doing enough. But I wanted to let you know a tad bit more about me as a person before I started to talk about your points below.

      At that point, I wonder what more damage it could do to come out about what you write. Is there that big a difference between speaking up in real life about homophobia and equal rights and admitting what you write? Would the backlash for your child be that much worse? If you’re being honest about your activism level, then you’re already half out. What’s keeping you back?

      These are fantastic questions and exactly the kind of thing I’ve been asking myself and why I wrote up this post. I do have some answers, I think.

      1. At that point, I wonder what more damage it could do to come out about what you write. Is there that big a difference between speaking up in real life about homophobia and equal rights and admitting what you write?

      I think this has to do with the heat-level. The fact is, I’m very open and completely honest about the YA book I am writing with gay characters. I say it like it ain’t no big (’cause it’s not) and people’s eyes usually go wide, but then they say nothing else about it. But when it comes to the erotica/romantica, my usual MO is as follows:

      First, I tell people that I write romance novels. (Because I do!) Then they ask for my pen name and I tell them that I don’t give that out to people because we live in such a conservative area and my romance novels have a lot of sex in them. I explain that I don’t want the kid to be stigmatized because I write books that some people might find too titillating for propriety. I don’t mention the gay aspect. Partly because I do write het books, too, and partly because I don’t like singling gay romance out as something separate from romance in general because, imo, it shouldn’t be considered any different, and partly because I know if I said gay they’d react even more strongly than they do. As it is, they either try to get me to confess my pen name because, “Oh, I wouldn’t be upset, tell me, tell me” with that “oh, yessss, gossssssip” gleam in their eye, OR they look a bit appalled and let it drop.

      The main question I’m asking myself right now is…if my het romance books were out? Would I keep so mum about them? I’m presenting my reasons for keeping mum as being due to the heat levels when discussing it now with people out in the world? Is that entirely true?

      I do write het smut under a totally different name that I keep secret from everyone because it has no redeeming qualities and is utterly filthy. I make more money from that than I do from anything Leta Blake does, but I don’t talk about that with anyone except for my very closest bestest friends–and even not all of them know the name I’m doing it under! Or the deets of the filth!

      Unfortunately, that’s not apples to apples. The smut of the het is not the same as the erotica/romantica of the gay romances I’ve got out. I feel like if I had an equivalent het book out, I’d be able to better examine my feelings and know if it was the gay or the heat that keeps me mum.

      2. Would the backlash for your child be that much worse?

      I do think that the heat-level, the graphicness of the erotica, would indeed be different. People of the homophobic variety can be appalled but not horrified by someone saying that there is nothing wrong with gay people, and telling your kid in front of them that two women can get married if they want, and with saying that you are pro-gay marriage, and believe in equal rights. However, someone who knows my pen name, buys my books, reads about a dude sticking his tongue in another dude’s ass? Well, they’ve got pages and pages of things to get utterly outraged about, don’t they? And that gets their feelings all wound up in a turmoil, and they just can’t help but call their friends and read aloud the dirty bits, or perhaps that’s too much so they say they can’t even say the words because they are so perverse and be-deviled. That’s the kind of thing that can lead to a frenzy feeling. It’s a little like (though all analogies are flawed) saying to your neighbors that you’re sex-positive vs writing up a detailed account of the swinger party you attended on your blog and then passing out the site addy to the Christian neighbors.

      So, having typed that up, I think that the heat level would keep me mum even if it was het that I’ve published. Probably. *searches heart* Most likely.

      If you’re being honest about your activism level, then you’re already half out. What’s keeping you back?

      Yikes. Imma gonna give you the benefit of the doubt on that you didn’t mean to question my honesty that way. Yes, I’m honest about it. If you’d like proof, I can hunt up a copy of one of my speeches given a few years ago when they were passing the laws about gay adoption and fostering in our state. I’ve got that on my LJ somewhere.

      I think what’s keeping me back is the heat-level. *nods* I think that’s where I’m coming to on this right now. But I’m willing and open to challenging that for myself.

      What kind of friends do you want to have cultivated for your child? What kind of adult do you want her to become? Do you want to have raised a child who will be at the forefront of social justice in the coming years or one who will be left behind when the sexual revolution advances us past this outdated homophobia?

      This commentary definitely makes it clear that we don’t know each other. 😉 And that you don’t know my child. She is very much a little activist and the friends I work hardest to cultivate for her are people who share our beliefs. I don’t, however, advocate shutting other people out and I hope that one day she will be a good example for the girls down the street. I hope that one day she might even be able to help educate them. Their parents are giving them terrible messages about sex, and I’m hopeful that one day my daughter might be in a position to help them understand birth control or other issues like that. So, I’m not an advocate of cutting those folks out of her life. Not when she’s such a firm advocate herself.

      Examples of her advocacy:

      1. She is a vocal supporter of gender-variant kids at school. On more than one occasion, she’s stood up for girls and boys who are ‘different’ without shame and loudly. In one especially touching moment, for me as her mother, she stood up for the boy who had bullied her all year long because some of their classmates were calling him a girl for wearing earrings in both ears. She said, “Stop! You’re hurting his feelings! You should never make someone feel bad for being who they are! And he’s a boy! He has a penis! And unless he says he’s a girl, then he’s a boy! And lots of boys wear earrings! And lots of grown men wear earrings! And you’re BULLYING HIM.” After, he came up to her and apologized for bullying her all year long and promised to never bully her again. And he kept that promise.

      2. She refuses to eat at Chic-Fil-A after finding out where they donate, and has been vocal with other people about why they shouldn’t spend their money there, either, until Chic-Fil-A has proven that they aren’t doing that anymore.

      3. She stood up to her much admired older (conservative Christian) cousin who told her that gay people are going to hell. She talked to her as I’d educated her to do via discussion of the bible, Jesus, and effectively made her cousin admit that she didn’t know why it was such a sin after all.

      And there are others, too, but she’s growing up to be very much a little advocate and I hope that she continues on that path. Her heart is big and full of love. I believe she will continue to do what is right.

      Be the change you want to see in the world, and most importantly…Be the change you want to see in your child’s world. Your example — how you live your truth — is the most important tool you can give her. More important than playdates or being accepted by neighbors, more important than feeling comfortable, you can show your daughter an up-close example of standing for what’s right even when it’s hard.

      This is all very good advice and I will think about it. It’s definitely part of my MO (see my blog tagline: working hard to become stellar at life) to want to constantly push and improve. I’m definitely open to figuring out how I want to go forward here. Thanks for your honest input. I truly appreciate your forthcoming and candid response. 🙂

      1. I don’t need proof at all! I don’t at all intend to question your credentials. I was asking it in a blunt way because it sounded like you were worried about it yourself, whether you do enough. It sounds to me like you do an amazing job of standing up and being a good example. Writing porn and telling everyone you write porn isn’t part of being an ally; being proud of who you are and proud of what you believe in front of the next generation is, and it sounds like you do that. So from me, at least (since I don’t speak for all LGBT people by a long shot), you’d get a gold star. Your daughter sounds awesome and I wish mine had friends like that. You’re rightly proud of her.

        I wasn’t trying to imply anything about your choices, but rather aim some questions at the topic, since you were clearly cogitating hard on it. It’s a rough thing to try to feel your way through when you’re proud of your writing, proud to have gotten published, and still concerned how people will handle it. Just a gay makeout scene is categorized as equal to a straight sex scene per the MPAA ratings, so it’s not really a wonder you hold back from putting that out there.

        I would never ask anyone to put their child in harm’s way, ever. I certainly wouldn’t put mine there. My approach to it is simply based on the idea that I need my kids to grow up knowing who I am and what I believe so that they feel empowered to be self-aware and not to let anyone else tell them who they are. Society — especially in a conservative, traditional, religious area — is very insistent on defining who we should be, and to me that’s more dangerous and damaging than anything else. That is, of course, just my opinion.

        My comments don’t imply judgment on anyone else’s parenting, cause I surely wouldn’t want mine judged. And they’re really more comments pertaining to what I see in the m/m fiction community as a whole, and obviously not about you. I just noticed some of the other comments on this post and around FB springing up pertinent to this subject and said my piece in a generalized way toward, well, everyone reading. Congrats on stirring up a dialogue. And kudos for being brave in putting out there exactly how you think and feel. Truth is valuable, and there’s not enough of it in the world.

        My bluntness seems to have ruffled a few feathers around this joint, which wasn’t my aim, but it’s a loaded topic. I feel the same way when someone communicates to me that I’m privileged or don’t do enough and sometimes I infer it when it’s not intended. That’s human. And I tend to think when I feel that way, it says something valuable about my own heart toward the topic, and that’s when I do some self-examination.

        As for my refusal to read books by people “writing in the closet,” that’s not condemning anyone or speaking for anyone else but myself. It makes me feel like a dirty little secret somehow, and I’ve had enough of that in my life. I prefer to support authors who would support me. Believe it or not, I’ve met with homophobia, transphobia, and m/m authors and readers who are staunchly against gay marriage. It’s made me very choosy.

        HOWEVER — When someone steps out and commits to RL activism and being an ally, to me they’re no longer writing in the closet. They’re making themselves a visible voice. I don’t care if no one knows you write/read naughty stories in your private life if your public life mirrors the same values you profess on the internet on your blog or FB or twitter where everyone following you believes what you do. Your stories might be in the closet, but YOU are out of it and living your truth.

  18. I am also a reader couldn’t write if my life depended on it. I also don’t shout out what I read, although I don’t think my family would care. I just think its my business, I do have a couple of friends that read the same genre.
    I would very definitely put my child’s welfare before an open public persona at least until she’s old enough to speak out for herself.

    1. I am also a reader

      I love readers!! 😀 😀

      I would very definitely put my child’s welfare before an open public persona at least until she’s old enough to speak out for herself.

      I understand where you’re coming from. I want to arm her with coping skills and I hope I’m doing a good job of it. *ponders*

  19. I live in a very gay friendly city (Toronto) where religion is by and large not an issue. My friends and family know that I write gay romance and I’ll happily share links to my books with friends. (Not with my parents, simply because I’m not comfortable with them reading my erotica. Gay or straight.)

    But I’m not “out” at work because of the explicit nature of my books. I keep my pen name very separate from my real name, because I can’t afford to have potential employers put off because I write erotica. That’s the issue for me — not the gay content, but the explicitness. I’m a firm LGBT ally, and I don’t think not telling the world about my erotica changes that.

    I would love to get to the point where I can write gay romance full time. When I do, I won’t hesitate to fully identify me with my pseud and books. But until then, on a professional level I’m more comfortable being circumspect.

    I think coming out of the closet — whichever closet you might be in — is each person’s decision and no stones should be cast. You are definitely an ally in my opinion, Leta.

    1. But I’m not “out” at work because of the explicit nature of my books. I keep my pen name very separate from my real name, because I can’t afford to have potential employers put off because I write erotica. That’s the issue for me — not the gay content, but the explicitness.

      As I’ve worked through the comments on this post, I’m coming to the conclusion that the heat level of the writing is definitely a component in my current choices. I wish I had a het novel out currently (that wasn’t pure smut!) to test this hypothesis and see if I am just as reluctant as I am with the gay erotica/romantica to share my work with randoms.

      I would love to get to the point where I can write gay romance full time

      YOU AND ME BOTH!!! 😀 😀 We shall one day manage it! You first, though! 😛

      You are definitely an ally in my opinion, Leta.

      Aw, thanks, friend. You know I try.

  20. I’m here via Keira Andrews. I just wanted to thank you for putting such thought into this. I think it’s really important that you’ve acknowledged your privilege and put so much consideration into it. As a queer woman, I really appreciate it. Like many of the commenters above, slash helped me come out of the closet. I read all the f/f I could get my hands on, hung out on all the message boards, and struck up friendships with many fellow fans and authors. All of them were writing and reading under pseudonyms, and their anonymity didn’t change what their stories meant to me. Many of them, like lovely Keira, became my real life friends! While there’s something to be said for getting out of the (fanfic) closets and into the streets, I would never want you or your family to have to needlessly suffer. Writing your stories, supporting LGBT causes, and never failing to stand up to homophobia when you see it in real life makes you a good ally – you can keep your porn to yourself 😉 As an aside, most early gay and lesbian novels were written under pseudonyms, so you’re in good company. You might like this video – I love a good mystery: http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/investigation/diana/

    1. I’m here via Keira Andrews.

      You know who I love? Keira Andrews, that’s who. Just so ya know. 😉

      I just wanted to thank you for putting such thought into this. I think it’s really important that you’ve acknowledged your privilege and put so much consideration into it. As a queer woman, I really appreciate it.

      As the tagline on my blog says, I’m working hard at becoming stellar at life, and not acknowledging that I might be sucking at something wouldn’t further that goal. 🙂 But thank you for this comment. Made me feel good.

      While there’s something to be said for getting out of the (fanfic) closets and into the streets, I would never want you or your family to have to needlessly suffer.

      Thank you. ❤ That is very kind and generous of you, very loving.

      Writing your stories, supporting LGBT causes, and never failing to stand up to homophobia when you see it in real life makes you a good ally – you can keep your porn to yourself

      LOL! 🙂 I hear ya. At the same time, I do want to make sure that I do talk about books I’m writing at a lower heat level (which I do) now that I’ve mostly determined that it is the sexin’ in the books that is most holding me back from discussing it.

      As an aside, most early gay and lesbian novels were written under pseudonyms, so you’re in good company. You might like this video – I love a good mystery:

      Shall check it out later! Thank you ever so! I really appreciate this comment!

  21. RJ Scott linked to your post and I’m very glad she did. I think you make some very good points. I too live in the South and have a middle school age daughter. Our family has some LGBT members on both sides and while a couple are out and mostly accepted by the family there are still those who are butt-heads about it. Others don’t feel secure enough to come out to most of the family and only myself and my husband know about it.

    As a mom, I think you are right to keep your writing separate to protect your child. Once she is older and better able to handle the discrmination then you might reconsider. I read mostly mm romance these days but I don’t advertise the fact as I don’t feel that I should have to defend my reading choices. A few close friends with similar interests and my husband know about my reading choices. I know my church acquaintances would never understand any of my reading choices, let alone my preference for mm.

    1. RJ Scott linked to your post and I’m very glad she did.

      Aw, yay for RJ! 😀

      I think you make some very good points.

      P’shaw. 😀 Thank you.

      I too live in the South and have a middle school age daughter. Our family has some LGBT members on both sides and while a couple are out and mostly accepted by the family there are still those who are butt-heads about it. Others don’t feel secure enough to come out to most of the family and only myself and my husband know about it.

      Thank you for sharing that with me. I don’t have many family members that I think are LGBT, just my little cousin who is ten. I don’t know if he is trans or gay or something else entirely, but he is definitely QUILTBAG.

      Thank you so much for commenting and sharing your story with me. I really appreciate your support and insight. This has been such an enlightening conversation for me. 🙂 I appreciate you being part of it!

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