Interesting discussion at Brandonshire’s blog about heteronormativity in M/M Romance. I replied there with the following and wanted to post it my comment on my blog. It’s a bit out of context, but I think sense can be made of it. Otherwise, you can check it out at Brandon’s blog for full contextual understanding. 😉


What you’re describing is not actually this, “Even the most effeminate gay men are still that, they are men, they aren’t women, they shouldn’t be written like women” but rather this, “That is writing a stereotype of a woman, who is not a woman.” Because what you’re describing are BADLY WRITTEN CHARACTERS. Women don’t behave in those ways either.

So, to me, the issue is not if the gay man is effeminate, or horny, or not horny, or “alpha male”, or whatever else…the issue is whether or not they are written as well-rounded, true-to-life human beings. Basically, when I see people complaining about gay men being written like women, I start wondering just how they see WOMEN, you know? I mean, when was the last time I read a woman in a book–especially a romance–that I related to as a woman? It’s sadly been awhile.

So, I have no problem with you or anyone else pointing out that some of the characterizations of gay men (and of women) in books are deeply problematic because they are unrealistic, stereotypical, and lacking in creativity, but I guess I do end up having a problem with the idea that it is because the men are being portrayed as ‘like women’…because generally I don’t even know any women who behave like these stereotypical characters we see in books.

Maybe a better phrasing would be “gay men who behave like the worst and most unrealistic stereotypes of women”. That’s a phrasing I could probably get behind.

**I have been told that I should shut up about this and that female authors of m/m can write whatever they want because women are the biggest readers of the genre.**


**I’ve had gay friends of mine (authors) who were told by female readers of the genre that their gay men were wrong, because they didn’t fit how they see gay men.**

Well, obviously, that’s shitty and short-sighted and homophobic and fetishizing on the part of those who have said these things. I’m certainly not expressing that opinion. I’m just challenging the idea that these characters are written “like women” because I think that they’re just crappily written characters who are not like women at all.

Hope this made sense! I haven’t had my coffee yet!

6 thoughts on “Heteronormativity or Misogyny? How About Both! #lgbt #gay #mmromance

  1. I just read that post, and commented. Some of the comments there were a little troubling, honestly. I loved the response you gave, Leta, it’s perfect 🙂

    I did a blog post on this same argument (the gay man as a woman thing) a while ago, ( ) it is a topic that really irritates me.

    1. Yes, I was just telling a friend of mine that a good author will understand how to write men who are realistic and not based on stereotypes. A good author can understand that one can top from the bottom, and can and will write characters that flip-fuck, and knows that not all gay men are effeminate, and also knows that just because a character might be effeminate it doesn’t mean he’s not a dude.

      Speaking of that–I actually think that many gay men fall into trouble with that just as much, if not more, than some straight women. I think most straight women very clearly see all the ways an effeminate gay man is not a woman, whereas some (NOT ALL) gay men stuck in their misogyny and own internalized homophobia often just have their own version of gay-panic when presented with a fem gay guy…even if they’re fem and gay themselves, or even if they are attracted to fem guys.

      I had a friend who was a fem gay guy and he said that he’d actually get disgusted with himself and grossed out by himself for being “such a queen”. It was really disturbing to me when he said these things, because it was clearly rooted in a disdain for women/girls that he had internalized and felt expressed in his community.

      Anyway, I am always cautious of people who try to force women into any kind of cookie cutter role, even if they’re doing it by saying that poor stereotypes of gay men are “like women”. What they’re doing there is enforcing two wrong-headed ideas: 1) the idea that women are a particular way and are like the worst stereotypes we’re presented with, and 2) that it is not okay for men to be anything like women. Both are ideas that are limiting and need examined, imho.

  2. Just to clear things up. A homosexual guy who explicitly dislikes effeminacy is not suffering from internalised homophobia ever since homosexuality and masculine/feminine behaviour are not the same nor are they related at all. The great dislike of effeminacy is called Effeminophobia.

    Why some men who are homosexual are effeminate? The main reason is the lack of male role models for these kids. We live in a heterosexist/heteronormative society so all role models are mainly addressed for heterosexuals. Kids realise of their romantic attraction to the opposite, same or both sexes at a young age. They see guys feel attracted to girls, but these kids don’t feel attracted to girls, they feel attracted to other guys so they subconsciously imitate the way girls behave in order to attract guys because apparently “that is what all guys like: the girls around”. So subconsciously they assume that there are not guys who like guys so the only way to attract them is to behave like women do. So, yes, it is a learnt behaviour. This behaviour is mainly performed towards heterosexual men by effeminate homosexual men.

    Some will realise there are tons of guys who like other guys and will stop behaving effeminate (besides, in a global perspective, femininity is a turn-off in male homosexuality) while others have made effeminacy/femininity an important part of their identity as they grow up.

    So, this is not internalised homophobia because male homosexuality is not linked to efeminacy at all. This is called Effeminophobia.

    Masculine and feminine are mainly cultural. Only a small part of it is innate.
    By the way, there are also effeminate heterosexual men, Do not forget that.

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