25 March 2016

The Gay-For-You debate

Hey everyone,

I don’t normally got involved in the wider debates that happen within the romance community. Partly because I hate conflict, but also because someone has usually said what I feel already, but in a way more articulate why than I myself could manage. However, the recent debate about the GFY (Gay-For-You) trope and its role within the M/M romance book world is close to my heart.

I love M/M romances, or any romance with an LGBT+ plus main character. I love that the rise in popularity with M/M romances has led to more diverse LGBT+ romance books across the sub-genres. Yet the rise in popularity has led many people to question the role of M/M romances in a primarily female-led genre. That isn’t to diminish the present of the wonderful male readers, publishers, writers and reviewers in our community, but it is a fact that the romance community is largely female. I myself am all for more men in the romance community as discussed in this post. But questions are rightly being asked. Questions like ‘'do M/M romance books written by straight women for straight women actually damage the LGBT+ community?’.

This question is particularly important when discussing the GFY trope. Now I will admit upfront I have read M/M romances that use the GFY trope, and I’ve even enjoyed them. I am also not an expert in LGBT+ rights and am approaching these books as a bisexual female. Yet this is my opinion: it is acceptable for writers to use the GFY trope if the character will openly acknowledge that he is now not straight. Whether the writer chooses to acknowledge them as gay, bisexual, pansexual or any other sexuality appropriate for the character. The sexuality they identify as, isn’t as important, as the fact that they acknowledge they aren’t straight.

In my opinion the GFY trope has a place in the M/M romance genre, because for some people the GFY trope is representative of their personal experience. I myself didn’t realise I was bisexual until I was 22. I hadn’t been hiding or suppressing my feelings for women I just wasn’t aware of having them. And I know I am not alone with this experience. Therefore the GFY trope is important to the LGBT+ community because it does represent some of us. 

Unfortunately this acknowledgement that the main character is no longer straight isn’t always included in the story. In fact I have read some M/M romances where the main character will vehemently deny being gay despite openly being in an emotional and physical relationship with another man. This for me is the problem with the GFY trope. Without the acknowledgement that the main character is no longer straight it leaves the fantasy that he is still available for the female gaze. For me this undermines both the LGBT+ community and the M/M romance genre. Because if we continue to write, publish, review and read M/M romance books where one of the main characters self-identifies as straight then we as a genre are supporting the continuation of heteronormity.

Happy reading and see you next time.