Friday, September 16, 2011

What's going on this week: Whipped Cream, Gaga and #YesGayYA

I'm guest blogging on "Sweet Inspiration" at Whipped Cream today. You can also catch me at the Weekend Creation Blog Hop.

I’ve been a naughty erotica writer this week, and not in the fun way. I’ve been naughty in the sense that I haven’t given my erotic imagination much of a workout this week. In the past month, you could have found me hard at work attempting to finish a piece of female/female erotica set in the 1930s with gangsters and a cabaret singer. I fondly referred to it as “Miller’s Crossing with lesbians.” It disappeared when my hubby decided to “fix” my laptop, and I haven’t had the heart to try to recreate the 2,800 words I lost.

I’ve also been busy editing more mainstream work. Somehow, though, no matter how busy I get, I seem to find time to check Twitter once in a while. As I write this, one of the trending tags is GAGA IS SEXY. Okay, I admit it: I find Lady Gaga beautiful and fascinating, and she was some of the inspiration for YumYum, the pink-and-blue-haired cabaret singer in my lost manuscript. On Monday night I watched her being interviewed by Jean-Paul Gaultier. I was somewhat surprised to hear the outspokenly bisexual pop star say she’s never been in love with a woman.

Not that it really matters; bisexuality is defined by attraction to people of both sexes, not necessarily falling in love. As I've mentioned before, bisexuality can sometimes feel like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak – when you’re with someone of the same sex, you look like a gay man or a lesbian, and when you’re with an opposite-sex partner, you’re assumed to be heterosexual. The bisexual population struggles to define a public sexual persona. It’s no wonder young bisexual people sometimes feel so confused.

Which brings me to another trending topic on Twitter this week: #YesGayYA. Young adult authors Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown recently went public on Rose Fox’s Publishers Weekly blog Genreville to say an agent* asked them to remove a gay character from the young adult novel they were pitching. The blog post became a call for diversity in young adult fiction – not only diversity of sexual orientations, but of races, creeds, colors and abilities, particularly in young adult science fiction and fantasy.

Dozens of agents, publishers, authors and readers jumped into the fray to back the duo up. Teens, they argue, come in all the different sexual stripes we adults take for granted, and including characters of minority sexual orientations in fiction is simply a nod to realism. Gay characters are no racier than straight fictional couples, they argued.

As a reader and writer of erotic fiction, I love diversity. I buy, read and love fiction with lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight and transgender characters. I identify with well-written characters, even when their sexual orientations, skin colors, religions and ability levels don’t match up with mine. In my writing, I love to explore characters from different walks of life. My fiction has brought to life a sexually adventurous Londoner of Arabic descent, a biracial lesbian vampire stripper, a pair of Beijing women of the near future and a gay Latino priest.

I’m certainly not suggesting that the young adult audience read erotica, which is clearly intended for a mature adult audience. I am, however, suggesting that younger readers deserve the same diversity of character that we adults enjoy in our fiction. Fiction is a wonderful way to learn about other people and other cultures, whether these cultures are found halfway around the world or at the locker next to yours. I say #YesGayYA because, word by word, fiction can lead to a more diverse, just and kind world.

*Read the agent's response here.

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