What is Gay Lit?

I’m excited.

Why? Over the coming weeks I’m going to publish a very special Q&A blog series looking at gay themed literature. And to help me are several guests who have their own unique insights.

You’ll meet a reviewer, a representative from a major GLBT publisher, and an author who co-produces a podcast about modern gay writing.

Image by Tookapic, courtesy of Pixelbay
Image by Tookapic, courtesy of Pixelbay

Why this topic now?

Two things happened recently which made me ponder this subject. They made me want to ask what’s changed in gay fiction thanks to our current digital age, through self publishing and with the emergence of new smaller ‘print on demand’ book companies. Plus I was curious to know what themes are explored in fiction today that weren’t considered ten years ago.

The initial reason I was prompted to ask these questions was after hearing from a fellow author about how his work was perceived. At a European GLBT Literary Festival he was introduced as a Romance writer. When he got up to speak, he corrected the person who introduced him, as he’s never written a Romance novel. Trust me, his work so far is darker than the romance genre could ever be. So why was this mistake made?


Many years back something similar happened to me.

The first edition of my début novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, was published by a small (non-LGBT) press in Boston. I was awarded the publishing deal on the strength of its first chapter. A year later when they were ready to work on it, I received a curt email from the editor-in-chief asking how could I call my novel erotic when there was no sex. And I was told if I didn’t fix this problem my book would never see the light of day.

Erotic? I didn’t write an erotic novel. In the end I agreed to the inclusion of three sex scenes. It was a strange addition to my story of unrequited love in the theatre district of the Afterlife, but it was a wake up call to how being seen as a gay writer meant there are expectations.

The original Charles River Press edition featuring Guy on the cover
The original Charles River Press edition featuring my angel character, Guy, on the cover. (Now out of print and revitalised through NineStar Press)

Another reason I wanted to explore this topic centres around a critic I admire.

Several weeks ago I wrote a post called ‘Rejected by a Reviewer‘. I shared my experience of approaching a reviewer who, through his critiques of my writing, has helped me improve my craft. I asked if he’d beta read a manuscript that I’d been working on.

He graciously accepted, but after he read the first few chapters, he realised it wasn’t specifically a queer novel. Although it has bisexual undertones, he felt that he had been invisible in fiction most of his life, and now with an abundance of material that reflects his life, why would he want to read something mainstream. For the record, he will be one of my guests over the coming weeks.

The main character of a book I am writing.
The main character of a book I asked him to beta-read.

Now that you know why I’ve asked some guests to ponder this topic, make an appointment to join me here, on this blog.

Hopefully like me, you’re curious about what others have to say on where gay lit is today. And hopefully you too will add your voice to this conversation through the comments below. Don’t be shy. Share your thoughts. There’s a lot of us listening.

CLICK HERE to read the first guest post from author, Vance Bastian.

2 Replies to “What is Gay Lit?”

  1. Being published in the erotic romance genre I’ve often wondered why (though very grateful) since I tend to write dark and loosely follow the romantic equation. My work dances outside of the genre, closer to being love stories with other things going on. I’d like to think I’m more in the gay lit genre but I don’t know that I’m the one to classify myself. Or am I? I look forward to reading more on this topic. Thank you!

    1. Hi Johnny. I’m just checking that you know the whole series is published. Just keep moving forward through the blogs at the bottom of the page.

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