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Hidden Gaycism; On Pen Names; Elizabeth Glaser AIDS Foundation

The only link I have to this part of the post on “Gaycism” is what I found over at Urban Dictionary, right here. And this mostly because I’m not even sure if what I’m about to discuss exists. This is partly because gay men are still so closeted many things still are not discussed, or taken seriously.

I may or may not have mentioned this before, but I was corresponding with a gay male reader who is Amish the other day and I mentioned to him that my partner, Tony, wasn’t completely out of the closet until about five years ago. Tony worked in corporate America where being openly gay is still something that’s very well-hidden. I know gay men in publishing who are still partially in the closet, too. In fact, Tony and I were together for fifteen years, living as a “married” couple, before I actually met anyone in his family. I never pushed him into doing anything he wasn’t ready to do. So I understand the need to remain in the closet as well as any other gay man out there today. I also respect this and would never push anyone to come out until they are ready. In the same respect, I often wonder about how nice it would be if all gay men who are in the closet would come out and support each other. I think things would be very different. They wouldn’t fuck around with us as much.

I personally never had a huge coming out day like you see on TV or read in books. I just knew I was gay from day one and never denied it to anyone. In other words, this is me, like it or not, kiss my proverbial ass. I have a very successful gay brother in New York who did the same thing. I also have a nephew in medical school in Iowa who had a more dramatic coming out because he felt the need to do that. He had to actually say it aloud in words, to his mom and dad, otherwise he claimed he felt as if he would explode. I get that, too. We’re all different and no one can define the best way to come out to anyone.

In any event, I correspond with a lot of people over the course of a week. Some are readers, some are other authors, gay and straight. But the one thing I’ve found interesting recently is that so many of the gay men I talk with claim they are seeing a new brand of “gaycism” in publishing and I’m not even sure I understand it. Just to be clear, I have always supported women who write m/m romance and I’ve promoted them here on my blog and even gone to extra lengths to make sure that’s known. One of my favorite all time gay novels is “The Front Runner,” by Patricia Nell Warren, a women who started writing gay fiction back in the 1970’s and doesn’t get nearly the credit she deserves. I even have a call out for submissions right now for an anthology I’m doing about the women who love gay romance because I know how many women love to read about gay romance. I’ve always believed that if you write well that’s all that matters. And I have respect for anyone who does that.

The form of gaycism I’m talking about right now is subtle. It’s not the brand of gaycism Anita Bryant practiced…even though she was honest about her feelings. The kind of gaycism I’m talking about is hidden and not really discussed anywhere. And from what I gather, if it does exist at all, it’s based more on exploitation and money than actual social discrimination and honesty. I know that in order to sell anything there’s always a certain amount of exploitation. You can’t avoid it. But there are some gay men who feel as if they are not even welcome in certain circles where women who write m/m romance gather, talk, and promote themselves. A good many feel completely ignored…invisible…as if there’s this huge gay male party going on and only a handful of carefully selected gay men were invited to attend. It’s hard to elaborate on this, other than to say that there are gay men in publishing who tell me they don’t even bother going to certain places online anymore because they know they are not welcome. And never will be welcome.

I’m usually too busy to notice a lot of these things, so I can’t comment on them personally at this point. And I haven’t actually felt this myself. But I am going to start opening my eyes, so to speak, to see if there is any basis to what I’m hearing about this brand of gaycism happening behind the scenes. I hope not, because that would be a shame. I hope it’s just a few people feeling insecure. Look at it this way, if a group of aggressive white authors banned together, regardless of how good their intentions are, and started to write novels in literal droves about African Americans for financial gain, and then aggressively went out promoting those novels and purposely left African American authors out of their circles, I would consider that racism in one of its worst forms. In fact, I doubt this would even happen because no one would have the audacity to actually do it nowadays. No one would be that disrespectful to African American authors or their personal experiences. The African American community would rise up and squash those aggressive white authors one by one, and then turn them into jokes. But the problem with gay men is that most of us aren’t out, most don’t get involved in anything that will call attention to us, and we wind up suffering the consequences because of this.

As I said, I haven’t experienced this personally. So this is nothing more than hearsay and something I wanted to mention because I’ve heard so much about it lately. And I know none of the wonderful straight people writing m/m romance out there would even think of doing something like this. They work hard to promote gay causes like same sex marriage and AIDS and National Coming Out Day because they truly care more about the LGBT community and those causes than they care about book sales or promotion or any kind of self-gratification.

Elizabeth Glaser

Elizabeth Glaser, née Meyer ((1947-11-11)November 11, 1947 – December 3, 1994(1994-12-03)), was a major American AIDS activist and child advocate married to actor and director Paul Michael Glaser. She contracted HIV very early in the modern AIDS epidemic after receiving an HIV-contaminated blood transfusion in 1981 while giving birth. Like other HIV-infected mothers, Glaser unknowingly passed the virus to her infant daughter, Ariel, through breastfeeding. The Glasers’ son, Jake, born in 1984, contracted HIV from his mother in utero.

The virus went undetected in all three infected family members until they underwent HIV testing in 1985, after the Glasers’ daughter, Ariel, began suffering from a series of unexplained illnesses. Ariel had developed advanced AIDS at a time when the medical community knew very little about the disease and there were no available treatment options. Early in 1987, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally approved AZT as an effective drug to extend the lives of AIDS patients, but the approval only extended to adults. With their daughter’s condition rapidly deteriorating, the Glasers fought to have her treated with AZT intravenously. However, the treatment came too late, and the child eventually succumbed to the disease late in the summer of 1988.
 
If you don’t know anything about Elizabeth Glaser, please check out the link above. It’s one of the most historical cases about the AIDS virus ever talked about, and one I’ve been following for a long time. I will dedicate a post to her in the future. She deserves it.
 
On Pen Names 
 
I’m writing about this topic again because I’m probably going to be using a pen name very soon. But this time I’m going to do it differently than the way I’ve done it in the past. I’m just going to come out with it and make it known from the start…if I actually do it.
 
In the past, I’ve always kept my pen names quiet, and that’s only because I used them to hop genres. But in my case, what I discovered was that I didn’t enjoy promoting or talking about the books because of the pen name. It’s actually a huge dilemma for authors and I’ve never figured it out. So I’m going to take the advice of this article, and do the pen name and make it known that I am that pen name.
 
 

The only thing I suggest is not make it a big secret or mystery. Don’t set up different fake websites and fake lives of these fake people.

Own up to it all on your personal website. My name is ‘X’ and I write romance under ‘Y’ and thrillers under ‘Z’.

You might want to put an FAQ page or answer the question “why don’t I use my real name?”

For each genre and name, try to use the same font, size and style for the author name. (Especially for a series). However, if you don’t have a genre and your books are all unique, I’d focus more on making a great cover than making your name look the same way.

Still, branding is about elements of repetition.

I have to agree with this article completely on not making it a big secret. This past weekend I did a search for an author in m/m romance that I enjoy reading and I didn’t even know it was a pen name. This is an author who talks about personal real life situations all the time and I just assumed the author was using a real name. This author even gets into travel experiences in long detailed posts. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered the only information associated with the author’s name in a search, other than books, is the motor in a well known automobile. I joke not about this. The motor of a well known automobile.

Of course that could be coincidence. If you google me you’ll find web sites for athletic fields. But people on social media do see me interact with personal freinds here in New Hope. I try to keep it real and at the same time retain some privacy, and this time I’m going to do that with the pen name and follow the advice given above. That is if I decide to use one at all.

Photo above courtesy of good friend, Ryan Morro, New Hope, PA.