I saw a comment on social media this past week that suggested gay male authors are afraid to comment on or review gay fiction that is written by female authors. So I thought about it for a while and decided to post something about it.
I can only speak for myself. I am a gay male author writing gay fiction and I don’t like being grouped into anything because as an author I work alone. It’s the same reason why I don’t have beta readers. I make the choices, for better or worse. No one influences me in any way. It will never happen.
First (note: not firstly…this is not up for debate either), my reading tastes are not limited to gay fiction. If you check out the books I’ve reviewed on goodreads (which isn’t even up to date) you’ll see that I read a great deal, and it can be anything from Rita Mae Brown to a spiritual books by Shirley MacClaine. I re-read authors like Toni Morrison often. I have read every single book Anne Tyler has written three times at least because of her tight writing style. I may be many things, but amateur isn’t one of them.
Second, I try to buy and read books I know I’m going to like. I vet before I purchase. I read reviews, I read author blogs, and I read blurbs. I do judge books by their covers sometimes. I know I’m not going to like a book with a woman in the long flowing red dress on the cover, so I don’t buy it. It’s that simple for me sometimes.
Third, on the occasion I do read gay fiction (or m/m romance) I review the book according to how I feel about it. Most of the time the gay fiction I’ve read written by women is good and I can leave a positive review or rating (I don’t always have time to leave in-depth reviews).
But I don’t review a book differently because a man wrote it or a woman wrote it. I don’t care what sex the author is. (I’ve written more than a few hetero novels with pen names and I’m gay.) You can check out my reviews on goodreads for this as well. I have left both good and bad reviews. The reason why I don’t leave more bad reviews is simple. Like I said above, I try to read what I know I’m going to like. And when I do leave a bad review, which I once did for a book written by a woman who writes gay fiction, it was because of the writing, not the sex of the author. In this case the writing was so poor I gave examples about why I left that bad review.
I actually didn’t like leaving that bad review. But it was honest and I wasn’t AFRAID to do it…with my own name. The key word here is afraid.
So this gay male author isn’t afraid to review or comment on books written by women who write gay fiction. I’m not afraid to review or comment about gay fiction written by gay men either. I’ve had my fair share of both good and bad reviews and I’ve never complained about them. And when I’m leaving a review as a reader I don’t expect anyone else to complain about my reviews. And, I’m never afraid to do it.