by Kat Merikan (50% of K.A. Merikan)
A lot has already been said about the ‘gay for you’ trope. Books labelled like this focus on a straight male, who never before had any sexual interest in his own gender, falling in love with a man. To each their own, anything can be written and enjoyed, but as a bisexual person, I don’t want to feel like the sexuality I identify with is being erased from the spectrum. GFY is by definition focusing on a ‘straight’ character ‘going gay’ (though I know some people interpret it differently). It might be considered just a figure of speech, but I know that there are readers who romanticize the concept of the character ‘changing’ their sexual orientation for the sake of love.
I suppose for some readers this trope is just a fantasy they are into are into, but I find it so unrealistic that it jars with my mind when I read. Unless someone is asexual, I can’t imagine an adult man, who has the potential to be attracted to men, never fantasising about the concept, never feeling attracted to the male body, or even to particular men in his life. The psychological portrait of such a character feels fake to me, unless there is some supernatural or medical reason for the sudden change. I completely understand not acting on such feelings, repressing them, the character being in denial, but that doesn’t make him ‘straight’.
I generally believe that any genre and trope has its fans, so my policy is not to read the things I know would hit a nerve, but recently I noticed that there were questions popping up about our new book “Road of No Return” being a GFY. The idea was so alien that it didn’t occur to me that the story could be classified that way. I think the assumption might have come from the fact that Stitch, one of the main characters, had been married to a woman and had never had any gay relationships. But just because he used to be married doesn’t mean he was ever straight in any way shape or form. It doesn’t also mean that he was disgusted by sex with his wife. His sexuality is a lot more complex, and that’s why he struggled with it in the first place. Like many before him, he figured that because he felt love and affection for the girl he married, then it would work out.
He kept repressing his sexuality, but when he meets Zak after his divorce (caused partially by him being gay), it’s the tipping point for him, and Stitch goes headfirst into exploring his homosexuality. This doesn’t mean that he turned gay for Zak, nor that he doesn’t find other men attractive, he just chose not to act on that attraction before. Personally, I find it a lot more satisfying to read about a character who makes a conscious choice of committing to a particular person than about one who, by some magical chemistry in his body is suddenly attracted to someone so completely off his radar.
It is just my preference though, certainly influenced by how I think about sexuality, and everyone can write or read whatever they like. Since we’re celebrating Pride today, I hope with time I’ll see more bi-inclusivity in the M/M genre, as so far I have only seen books labelled as ‘bisexual’ when the character was shown having sex with both men and women. Sexuality isn’t linear, there certainly are situations where people re-discover their identity at some point, there are exceptions from any rule, but I think it’s better if we use labels that don’t erase certain types of characters, and in turn don’t make some groups feel misrepresented in the genre.
“Road of No Return” is the first in a series of outlaw biker books. The series is called Sex & Mayhem and will include both longer and shorter stories. Most will focus on gay relationships, but we do have a straight book planned in the series that will be published under our future M/F pen name. The books in the Sex & Mayhem series will generally be standalones, tied only loosely by cameos and mentions of clubs. We already have plans for future books which include an amputee fetishist, a male prostitute, and a biker called ‘Tooth Fairy’ for his gruesome technique of ripping out people’s teeth.
— Don’t talk to strangers. — Zak. Tattoo artist. Independent. Doesn’t do relationships. Stitch. Outlaw biker. Deep in the closet. Doesn’t share his property. On the day of Stitch’s divorce, lust personified enters the biker bar he’s celebrating at. Tattooed all over, pierced, confident, and hot as hellfire, Zak is the bone Stitch has waited for life to throw him. All Stitch wants is a sniff, a taste, a lick. What follows instead is gluttony of the most carnal sort, and nothing will ever be the same. Forced to hide his new love affair from the whole world, Stitch juggles family, club life, and crime, but it’s only a matter of time until it becomes too hard. Zak moves to Lake Valley in search of peace and quiet, but when he puts his hand into the jaws of a Hound of Valhalla, life gets all but simple. In order to be with Stitch, Zak’s biker wet dream, he has to crawl right back into the closet. As heated as the relationship is, the secrets, the hiding, the violence, jealousy, and conservative attitudes in the town rub Zak in all the wrong ways. When pretending he doesn’t know what his man does becomes impossible, Zak needs to decide if life with an outlaw biker is really what he wants. As club life and the love affair collide, all that’s left in Zak and Stitch’s life is mayhem. WARNING Contains adult content: a gritty storyline, sex, explicit language, violence and torture POSSIBLE SPOILERS: Themes: Outlaw Motorcycle Club, organized crime, homophobia, family issues, coming out, first gay relationship, tattoo, piercing Genre: contemporary homoerotic romance Length: ~ 100,000 words (Standalone novel, no cliffhanger.)
BUY “Road of NO Return” on Amazon
Add “Road of No Return” on Goodreads
K.A. Merikan is a joint project of Kat and Agnes Merikan, who jokingly claim to share one mind. They finish each other’s sentences and simultaneously come up with the same ideas. Kat and Agnes enjoy writing various kinds of stories, from light-hearted romance to thrillers. They love creating characters that are not easy to classify as good or evil, and firmly believe that even some villains deserve their happy endings. It is easiest to find them in galleries, restaurants and historical sites, always with a computer or notebook, because for Kat and Agnes, every day is a writing day. Future plans include lots of travel, and a villa on the coast of Italy or a flat in Paris where they could retire after yet another crazy venture, only to write more hot homoerotic stories.
As K.A. Merikan, Kat and Agnes have published a number of books, which cross genres while always staying homoerotic.
Mail to: email@example.com
More information about ongoing projects, works in progress and publishing at:
4 thoughts on “Kat Merikan on ‘Gay For You’ trope #LGBT #Guestpost”
Great post gals! You bring up an interesting post (and I have to admit, i still have to read your new book!). I’m always torn between seeing GFY as a reader’s fantasy and real life. IT’s combined with how good the rest of the story is. If a story is good, I can usually overlook it. But yeah, in RL I would never believe it if someone suddenly goes gay. They usually have fantasies, but they are unwilling to admit it, because that would mean the “problem” was there long before.
It’s getting extremely polarized reviews, so I can only hope you’ll enjoy it. I wouldn’t say the violence is anything more than what you would see on SoA or Dexter, but some readers seem to be very sensitive 😉
I think what bothers me with GFY as a fantasy is that it is so often in a completely contemporary story and the contradiction bugs me.
True that. It used to bother me too, a lot. Plus a whole bunch of other stuff. But I’ve learned to just let some things go.
Haha don’t you gals always get polarized reviews? People always seem to be so conflicted about your books. Violence is good so long as it is on Game of thrones. Anywhere else and people start to get moral and ethical about it 😉
I know, right?! 😉 I don’t get it why, but I suppose it’s good that people have such strong opinions about our books. Good or bad. Means it moved them one way or the other. It’s Sons of Anarchy that has a sex scene portrayed as *romantic*, that’s next to a dead body. But when we do something similar, it’s ‘repulsive’ ;). You just have to be true to yourself at the end of the day. As long as some people love it, we’re doing something right.