Over at A Motley Vision after the review of my novel, I was on the defensive for a while. My concern had been that I had been positioned as an “other,” although I was assured that I’m merely “on the fringe.” Obviously, any storytelling about homosexuality in the Church assumes a position in the sense of: “Is this a ‘faithful’ story?” If the characters “act on their attractions,” the answer tends to be “no,” unless the characters repent and return to being chaste — and even then, the very depiction of not being chaste can send the story to the “unfaithful” pile. In my story, not only do the characters act on their attractions, but the review criticized the faithful position in my novel to be “on the fringe.”
So, the conversation continued, and I stated:
The demographic of “faithful Mormons who dont mind seeing two guys who are intimate” exists. They are people who disagree with the Church on the topic of homosexuality, but are otherwise faithful. They include members of divided families; women who are interested in same-sex romance as a genre (a rather popular genre these days, actually); converts to the Church, etc. There is a lot of diversity in this regard that falls “under the radar.”
[…]There are of course faithful gay people in the Church who might be interested in my book, not because theyre biting their fingernails about whether they should enter a same-sex relationship (i.e, theyre “on their way out”), but simply because theyre gay and the book features Mormons.
All of a sudden, the conversation flipped and people sided with me. At least, this is how I felt. One commenter posted:
I know quite a few female m/m authors. Theyre raking in the dough, lemme tell ya. From everything I can gather, m/m romance outsells m/f and menage (in any combination) about 5:1.
I wouldnt be surprised if a portion of that customer base is LDS.
Now, I follow the M/M romance and yaoi communities (my own desires as a gay male have been heavily influenced by the imaginations of Japanese female mangaka) and any next novel I write would be geared toward this market. I assumed Mormonism and M/M romance overlap, simply because of the sheer size of the M/M romance market. The question is, how much do they overlap? Who are the faithful LDS women consuming this stuff? How do they think about their consumption as faithful LDS women?
An LDS woman emailed me some time ago who is herself an M/M romance writer. An excerpt from her emails [with her permission to tell her story] is as follows:
Since I’m both a homoerotic romance writer and Mormon mother of four I find it a tremendously difficult and strange thing to walk in both worlds. But I have the sense that there’s something wrong, that we throw away the brilliance of creation when we don’t embrace the diversity of it. And plus, I was a convert, so no one really expected me to tow the party line faithfully, or if they did, they weren’t listening to me when they invited me in. 😉
[…]My work comes up at church only because after California Prop #8 I stopped going to the temple and declined to be interviewed further. I stopped attending church during the worst of that for several months, and then when my children asked me to return, I spoke with the Bishop and informed him that I write same-sex romance novels, that I don’t agree with the policy of the church, that I think that the position they take now is both spiritually and morally incorrect, and that it reflects a gaping hole in the doctrine and needs to be fixed.
[…]I asked them if they had a problem with me attending church because I wasn’t likely to change my mind, and my Bishop, who is really a pretty interesting guy said, “Well. We can agree that the savior made the atonement for you right? That you believe in that, and you’re grateful?” And I said yes. And he said, “Then come to church for the savior, and to honor him and be with your family and we’ll agree to disagree on the rest.” I don’t know if I’d attend if they refused me the sacrament or something. I’ve never taken the sacrament, say, when I’m in a Catholic church where I know it would be a misuse of their sacred beliefs because I don’t share them.
(I’m going to invite this particular M/M romance writer to MSP. =) )