You know, I totally get you. Sometimes I look around at all the het romance I read/consume and think, what the fuck am I doing? I’m not supporting queer, independent press so I’m letting the queer community down and I’m letting myself down and I’m not measuring up to what it means to be gay and and and..
These kind of looping, self destructive thoughts are something my brain is really good at doing. Cutting myself down, undermining my own sense of self, until I’m nothing, worthless, alone. Maybe your brain is good at it too.
I didn’t really understand how gay I was until I got into my first serious relationship with a woman in my mid-twenties. I spent years and years thinking I was just pretending or fooling myself or making it all up. Being in a relationship, it was like I “qualified”. I had status. But even then I used to joke that I was only 65% gay. Because I had a history of dating men. Because I could never be a gold star lesbian. Because I didn’t feel like I measured up or belonged.
It’s not a sudden realization or an “aha!” kind of moment. I just gradually recognized that I am as gay as I am ever going to be. And that it’s mine. You and I, we’re big fat homos. Regardless of whether we’re bisexual, or lesbian, or pansexual, or queer, or whatever. We’re gay. No one can take your queerness away from you. No one can judge it or rank it or make you less than what you really are. Even yourself! Maybe even especially yourself!
I can read and enjoy romance novels because I am super gay! It doesn’t change. I loved romance novels when I struggled with my sexuality, I loved them when I was engaged to marry a woman, I loved them when we broke up, I loved them then and I still love them now.
I love the fantasy of romance. First kisses and falling in love, make ups and breakups, secret babies and second chances and alpha heroes, all of it! When I read, I get to travel to magnificent, magical lands where love solves all problems and makes people better.
People say “love is love” and I actually kind of scoff, because in the real world, love doesn’t stop abuse or hatred or discrimination. And sometimes, for me, reading a gay romance novel hits too close to home– the fantasy gets too close to reality, the magic is gone. So I read straight romance because it transports me someplace really beautiful, not necessarily because I’m attracted to or identify with either the heroine or the hero, but because it soothes and settles me. And because no one, not one single person, not even me on a really bad day, can take away or lessen my queerness. It is woven into the fabric of my being.
Anyway, I totally support you reading romance novels and being as gay as you are. And I really thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about it.