Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.
I was just having a fantastic conversation with a gay man, I met on GoodReads, about the "gay for you" (straight/bi/gay-for-you/curious/pansexual/omnisexual men falling for gay men) trope.
He put forth the question if the "gay-for-you" trope perpetuates the homophobic fear/stereotype that gay men want to turn straight men gay.
Before you dismiss this idea, it's important to remember that homophobia is not just the fear of being gay, or overt violence against gay people (or people perceived to be gay).
Homophobia encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). [via wikipedia]
A more subtle aspect of homophobia is cultural attitudes, and misconceptions about the very nature of being LGBTQ. Ideas like:
I'm always sad to see these types of homophobic stereotypes in LGBTQ books, but it especially worries me that they are so heavily used and perpetuated in m/m romance and gay erotica. It's not that I'm worried that out and proud LGBTQ people can't smell the bullshit.
I am however curious how seeing these stereotypes repeatedly used in gay romance and erotica affects readers who are not gay men, and have no first hand experience with being a gay man outside of watch gay porn, and reading m/m romance and slash fan fiction.
Do they know that these are stereotypes? If and when those readers become writers, will they just perpetuate those same stereotypes? I think the prevalence of homophobic content in the genre kind fo answers that question.
There is also the question of how misogyny, and its specific contribution to homophobia plays a big part in how some of these "gay for you" stories feminize gay men. Essentially cast them in a female role opposite an masculine non-gay man, in a story that feels like a replication of a heterosexual romance.
I don't think people do this on purpose, or are even fully equip to identify homophobia (much less the sexism) in these stories or understand how it contributes to a much larger, hateful cultural message LGBTQ people are fed every day. However, I think it really needs to be examined and talked about.
What do we owe a culture that we use for entertain, when it is not our own?
Do we take into account the very real, daily experiences with hate, bigotry, abuse and homophobia affects them when we portraying them in fiction?
Is there a way to do so respectfully, while still making it an entertaining (titillating) story?