Please welcome Kayleigh Sky with a very interesting article about gender that is definitely worth a read.
BREAKING OUT OF GENDER JAIL
Writing M/M romance/fiction can be a minefield when it comes to expectations and prejudices. That being the case, writing with a pseudonym (which I do) can surround you in a cozy, protective bubble in some ways. At least in your daily life you don’t have to deal with comments like – “That’s weird.” Or “That’s porn, right?” Or “Are you gay?” Or the ever popular “That’s interesting.” Which is code for—“You’re a freak, and I’m never talking to you again.”
Some people question the legitimacy of women writing in the M/M romance/fiction category. Others claim that it primarily is a woman’s category. Both writers and readers appear to be predominantly female. I haven’t done any real research into it; it comes up in posts I read here and there, and I don’t want to ruffle any feathers, because this isn’t what this post is about. It’s about labels and social constructs that might as well be made out of bars.
And this is one place where the labels and constructs come in.
Let me start by saying – labels suck. They don’t define as much as confine. Although I happily accept the label of writer! I think I was born one. Or at least I was born a storyteller. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t view my world through the lens of a story. Make-believe was more vivid and touched a truer place in me than reality ever has. Yet it was also my sign that I ought to hide a few things.
One—I have never identified as entirely—or only—female.
Two—The darkness in me is quite dark—though to me it has always been redeemed by a surprising but welcome hopefulness.
Hiding these two things was easy. I didn’t beat up boys—I just fantasized about beating them up. Even as a child I felt rather neutral about my sex/gender. I was a girl who didn’t feel particularly girlish despite a girlish appearance. But there were expectations. I recall that my father’s response to whatever life goal I was spouting at the moment was to claim his only wish for me was that I be happy as a woman. Happy. As. A. Woman. Even at eight or nine I was flummoxed. What the fuck? Was that different from the way I was currently happy? Was I doing it wrong? What if I didn’t feel like a woman? Clearly, I was destined for unhappiness.
I was a failure. Utterly unable to grasp the concept of gender-appropriate happiness.
Then I grew up. I wrote stories. Not my stories though. For a while I tried to fit in. Undoubtedly there was something wrong with me. Because, the truth is, I have never felt “happy” writing female protagonists or girl/boy love. Chick lit anyone? Nope. No passion for it. I really couldn’t relate. Let me tell you—I express entirely as female—all the girly stuff. Long hair, braids, jewelry, makeup. Even my tattoos are flowers. I’m comfortable with that. But I’m not that way everywhere at every time. I often have no sense of being male or female. Yet, in that fantasy place where I tell the stories of the guys that appear to me? I’m hella jealous because I really, really wanna be one of those guys!
I guess my label would be bi-gender. Or maybe multi-gender. I don’t know. I don’t want to leave out the androgynous part of me. I score really high on the androgynous scale. And this is why labels suck. The minute I pick one, I angst over all the ones I didn’t pick. Am I sure? Am I stuck with this label? Who I am now isn’t really who I once was. What if I change again?
Here’s the truth—I just am. Daily rebelling against the idea that there is anything qualified or carved-in-stone about my happiness, dreams, ideas, identity, etc.
Stumbling onto M/M fiction one day was a godsend to me. Wham! All the windows and doors of my figurative house blew open. Freedom! Here were others like me. The perfect world. Well, the perfect world in fantasy. The perfect real world wouldn’t give a fuck about labels.
Happiness would be happiness.
I could dress like a girl, drift neutrally through my day, and love a boy with the heart of a boy. So could you. No gender police tasering your ass for stepping out of line. Perfect acceptance of who you are in all your plentiful and changeable ways of being.
My book Pretty Human comes out on February 23rd. (You can preorder it now if you’d like.) In it, the main character, Jem, has his own identity crisis. Primarily, Pretty Human is about forgiveness and redemption, but Jem is thrust into a situation in which he has to battle with his own assumptions about himself and decide at great cost what kind of human being he wants to be. Only he can set himself free. Only we can set ourselves free. We have a universe of possibilities to explore. It’s a bloody shame to label ourselves into smaller and smaller boxes.
I hope you go out and buy Pretty Human, and I hope it makes you feel, and that you’re okay with that. (And I’d really love a review if you liked it. ) I write dark but always end in sunshine. We all deserve a happy ending. And I hope that you find yours.
Pretty Human Story Description:
Seeking absolution for his past in a fiery death, a young space force pilot crashes his ship on a desert planet.
When Ellis Ligoria, King of Xol, witnesses a spaceship hurtling to the planet’s surface, he rushes to the scene of the crash and joins the search party for survivors. As night descends, a strange compulsion leads him to the site of an underground city. Here he rescues a badly injured Jem. During his recovery, it is discovered that Jem is part Xolan. Not only that, but he’s a genetically submissive variation called a Xolani. Ellis has no wish to care for a Xolani but cannot resist his desire for Jem. Taking him under his protection, he brings him home to his family.
Desperately wanting this new life, Jem claims to be a solitary Vagabond, a loner without family or home. A man nobody wants or is looking for. Safe for the first time in his memory, Jem has hopes for a happy future. He is falling in love with Ellis and adores his new family. All he wants is to live a quiet life as Ellis’ consort, but as his secrets sink him deeper and deeper into a prison of lies, he knows that he cannot hide his true identity forever. Marrying Ellis is a dream come true, but he’ll never escape the brutal man he is running from.
Soon called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice, Jem must fight to stop a powerful monster bent on revenge.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pretty-human-kayleigh-sky/1123268758?ean=9781786513762
Pride Publishing: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/pretty-human
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