Why Straight Women Love Gay Romance
When the attendees of that first GayRomLit retreat in October 2011 all came together for the first time, it was like being in a safe place, sharing something other people didn't know or understand. It was like being with family, despite the fact that we were all pretty much strangers. There was a sense of courage, of confidence, of unspoken understanding, as though so many people there were "coming out" in their own way, for the first time. There was instant trust, an instant friendship between us all...
Yes, these women have something to say!
Initially I asked eight women to participate. Their responses had me captivated. They introduced me to theories and thoughts on the subject I hadn't even imagined. I was hooked, and so I asked four more women. Then another five. And still I wanted to know more. I wasn't simply fascinated by their responses; I was spellbound!
In the end I interviewed 32 women from 9 countries across 4 continents. And their answers are as diverse as they are riveting, which thrilled me because diversity was one of my main goals with this project.
I wanted the award-winning publisher and the #1 New York Times bestselling author, as well as the most prolific and successful female writers in this category. But I also wanted the fans, the women who read gay romance not with aspirations of writing a novel, but just for their love of these books.
I wanted women from different age groups in all kinds of different relationships. I wanted grandmothers and soccer moms and single women of all ages. I wanted the happily married and the happily divorced. I wanted women with children both gay and straight, as well as those who have no intention of ever raising a family.
And I wanted cultural diversity. From a town in Iceland to America's Deep South; from mainland China where homosexuality was classed as a mental illness until as recently as 2001, to Germany where the Mayor of Berlin is openly gay; from Italy to Ireland; from Australia to Canada; from Hong Kong to England.
What I found were stories that made me laugh, cry and shake my head in astonishment. But what I also found was something that truly astounded me. I found a once-silent army of women who, simply through their love of gay romance, have become an army fighting for equality. They're educating their husbands and children. They're changing the perceptions of their parents and friends and work colleagues. They're joining support groups and waving flags and becoming a true force to be reckoned with. Before they started reading gay romance, many of these women didn't even have any gay friends. Now they are one of the strongest, and most surprising, waves of support for equal rights on the planet-and most of the world, both gay and straight, doesn't even know it.
Well all that's about to change.