Bradzilla Has Left the Building!

z6-schilling-godzilla-old-a-20140523Well, yesterday was *supposed* to be a day off, after I read a blog post, got bent out of shape, wrote my response, and then sauntered off to the couch to watch the Red Zone Channel and eat Maple Bacon Kettle Chips in a leisurely daze…

Yeah, so, no. I ended up with 1,000+ viewers of the post as it went viral on Facebook. Clearly this touched a nerve. Nine people unfriended me on Facebook (thanks for the heads up, FB Purity!) but about that many also friended me in their stead.

I was very careful to make my case without using the Secret Words of Power like “blackface” or “minstrelsy,” but, that’s basically what she was doing – appropriating a culture and then locking its creators out of it. I’m not the only person to see it this way. And, I’m not the only gay man to weigh in on this – Marshall Thornton had some good thoughts about catfishing here.

It’s kinda sad and funny at the same time. Over the last three years, I’ve criticized “paper dolly” characters, the absurdity of MCs who were firemen/cops/soldiers when the author steadfastly refused to even look up, say, how a fireman would properly enter a burning building, dialogue that no human being probably ever uttered, dialogue that no man definitely ever uttered during sex…but I never called out an author by name, or even a book by its title.

And the day I finally lose my shit and do so? Best traffic ever, by a Buzzfeed-like landslide. Double sigh.

But I’m glad, because it really has brought to light what’s become of “gay fiction.” If you look at the top 20, not in Gay Romance, but in Gay Fiction, there’s only one book that’s not erotica or romance.

And the Cosmic Question is, if there aren’t any non-romance gay novels, are they not being written because gay authors (like me) know that the only way to make a living on gay novels is to write them as romances? Are gay men bored with gay stories, and they’ve moved on, or do they not bother because there are no gay stories that aren’t romances?

I’m the very last person to say that Market Forces should be ignored. I Love Money. And I respect those who’ve found a way to make a mint doing something creative. But I blew my top when someone suggested that this was “cosa nostra,” Our Thing… Also, my father used to start his pompous lectures with “What you have to understand is…” So, yeah, telling me what I “don’t understand” is a trigger word for me 🙂

Those story lines that make your content richer? Those tales of the closet, of families who rejected gay children, of jobs lost, careers ruined? Those are our lives you’re writing about. I’m 52 years old. I grew up hearing that all gay people were child molesters, and AIDS is “God’s Punishment” and then after 9/11 hearing that it was the fault of the secular humanists and homosexuals…

These are our lives you’re writing about. Don’t forget that you’re making a profit on someone else’s (sometimes very bad) experiences. Fine, good – treat them with respect. But don’t masquerade as someone who’s had to live through it. And for gawd’s sake, don’t try and lock us out of telling our own stories.

Final thought, and then, it’s Thus Spake Bradathusra and we’re done here. I gotta get back to work doin’ books n stuff for money for bills n stuff.

When I was a kid, I forced my father to drive me from Reno to Star Trek conventions in the Bay Area (okay, at least he did that). I remember being about 12 or 14, and going to a convention table where a somber, dignified older woman was selling her “fanzine.” If you don’t know, that was a self-published fan magazine back in the day of mimeographs and expensive copy machines.

It was slashfic, and I’m sure that there were lots of adolescent boys in 1975/77 who shouted in WTF indignation at the idea of Kirk and Spock kissing, never mind…the other things. I have no doubt that was a hard day for her, sitting there selling the results of her steadfast passion to a hostile audience.

But she did it. And I respect that. She was a pioneer, a straight woman who was fascinated with gay men, and with the vast canvas available when you think about passionate connections between men, gay or straight, especially in this country at that time. I mean, only now are straight guys getting comfortable expressing physical affection without having to shout “no homo, man!” And to mine the panic and loneliness beneath those defenses, to take away the “no homo” and reveal the “homo” beneath – not in the strictly sexual sense, even, but the idea of how sad it is that two men couldn’t touch…

It’s still a fascinating territory. And it doesn’t “belong” to anyone.

Thus Spake Bradasthusra.

16 Comments on Bradzilla Has Left the Building!

  1. I know the feeling about the unexpected viral pop. Wee bit frightening. But the conversations have been very civil at least, which restored my faith in humanity quite a bit. I loved your posts.

  2. You are absolutely right! Why sell yourself as something you’re not. As a fan/reader some trust is lost.
    Anyways, I hope you continue to give us your wonderful stories. I am a huge fan of your characters and their world.

  3. Harper Miller // September 21, 2015 at 6:56 am // Reply

    Gosh. I love this.

  4. Yes! I’m an oddball reader of m/m because I’m a gay woman. I fell into it because I wanted to read gay authors and the amount of quality non-depressing fiction quickly slid me down into m/m. (I have a depressing job, I need lighthearted reading.) F/f is so angsty – too much like my early 20s, ugh not relaxing. Turns out nothing gives me a break from reality better than 8 foot tall werewolf firefighters or whatever the hell crap I end up reading. I agree romance novels are not the same as fiction and shouldn’t be overlapped. Anyway I came to the genre wanting a break from heteronormativity and get really irritated by straight women passing themselves off as men. If you don’t see how screwed up it is to appropriate the experiences of a maligned group then you shouldn’t be writing about them, let alone profiting from it. Don’t even get me started about the GFY trope. I may be looking to read something ridiculous but I want it to be gay ridiculous. I do enjoy some female authors but I think it’s only fair to let me know what voice I’m reading. It’s exhausting to live in a straight world and fiction is one way that gay people can connect and take a break from being the only one. Faux gays rob us of that. If “Josh” and others really understood the experiences of the people they write about they would already know that.

  5. Thank you!! I feel so relieved that you express these points of view in such a clear and non-confrontational way. I’ve more or less stopped reading M/M for the same reasons.

  6. I don’t write comments, ever, but here I am and obviously late to the discussion. I stumbled on it when I saw the word “she” used in an Amazon bio for Lanyon and then started to search online. I read a couple of the novels hoping to see how another gay man would write mystery. I would think blacks would have the same feeling if someone implied they were black who was white. It’s a sense of betrayal, yes not a nice word, that goes to the gut and maybe is only understood by those in the oppressed minority who hope to see their own write and possibly why she seems not to fully understand. Shelley wasn’t a mad scientist when she wrote Frankenstein nor did she imply such, She also wasn’t trying to sell to a group of mad scientists. It’s very difficult to believe that in a world of make money that someone didn’t think “Josh” sent a better message to buyers. It’s a pen name, with all the choices in the world, and Lanyon has had no trouble using female pen names: Diana Killian, Louise Harris.

    • I agree with all of the above 😉 I’m amazed that these two posts continue to drive readers here, clearly this is a topic that more than a few readers have issues with…

  7. Emma Anderson // August 24, 2016 at 5:39 pm // Reply

    I too am late to the table, and also don’t usually make comments, and yet I am compelled.
    I came across M/M accidentally on Audible. I ordered a book for a long drive and squirmed a bit not expecting romance, I ultimately loved the book and series. I’ve since bought several other M/M books. I came across a few Josh Layton books and enjoyed them. However after looking her up I’m disillusioned (disappointed). I’ve been lied to, by omission sure. It’s still a lie. And I found this, which lead me to Brad Vance.
    I’ve since listened to, and read Brad Vance. I like the dialogue and sincerity better. This may simply be because I am still feeling disbelief over the name, of course. It could also be because it’s more genuine to actually know what men will say and do.
    I love the fantasy of all of it and the romance and that IS what keeps me coming back for more. Thanks

  8. I feel foolish – I just found out today when I looked on “Josh”‘s blog and it described the writer as “she”. At first I thought it was a typo! But I had to make sure so I googled and saw this blog by Brad Vance.
    I’m really disappointed that the writer known as “Josh Lanyon” used a male name and pretended to be a man. It tarnishes how I feel about her books.
    I look for male authors in this genre because they know what they are writing about and the writing is usually more honest and real – less of a fairy tale. “Josh”‘s honesty has been compromised.
    Brad, I have read and enjoyed your books a great deal. I also really like Marshall Thornton’s books, and just found a new author, Richard Compson Slater, who is terrific. I’ll keep looking for male authors in this genre – it does seem to me that there are more and more good ones.
    Thanks for the very thoughtful blog posts about this topic. Keep writing!

  9. Thank you for your blog posts. I have been interested in finding more LGBTQ* authors who write based on their own experience. I will be picking up books by the authors mentioned in these posts, including yours.

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