Transparency by Ethan Stone and Sara York
A few months ago a comic about the orientation police came out. It was an interesting look at the classifications we assign sexuality and the value people place on certain types of people. Some times those values interfere with seeing people as they are, instead focusing on the body parts or lack of body parts. The comic by Bill Roundy can be located here. Ethan Stone shared it on Facebook and I think it affected me about as much as it affected him. At the time the comic was shared, neither Ethan nor I had planned on writing together.
Sometimes writing in this genre can feel confining. Writing out of the box can be tricky. As an author, I want to push the envelope, especially with my own writing. I admit that over the last year I started holding back after a few reviews knocked me back, focusing on what they saw as negatives but were really just me throwing knives at the boundaries, seeing if I could slice a hole where none had been before. Taking a chance may lead to disappointing readers, which because of a few reviews I thought I had done so I squelched the desire to be different and started playing it safe.
Then the comic came out, Ethan and I started joking about Dino Porn and a partnership was born. We weren’t going to write about dinosaurs though, we wanted to write something inspiring or maybe a bit thought provoking. I don’t think either of us really expected to develop a transgender story when we first got together. We tossed a few story ideas around and after talking for a bit, he broached the subject of writing a trans character. Ethan told me that the idea of writing a transman came alive after a panel at the Gay Romance Northwest in Seattle. Readers said they wanted more trans characters and the idea came alive.
Writing Transparency forced me to open up and go deeper than I had in the last year. I found that place where I could dare to write outside of the box. It was refreshing to work on Taylor and how he interacted with Charlie. Taylor is troubled and wants to be accepted. Writing Taylor meant that I had to become vulnerable once again, exposing myself to harsh criticism because readers wouldn’t understand. Delving deep into this character brought emotions to light that I had repressed. The freedom of writing this character who broke barriers has allowed me to grow.
Transparency is more than just another hot romance with gay men who have great sex. It’s a journey into a dark and hurtful place that eventually brings freedom through love. Taylor is spunky and though he’s been knocked around, he always seems to have the energy to bounce back. I enjoyed exploring the sexuality of a transman. This side of the genre isn’t often delved into and is misunderstood. Giving voice to the T in LGBT was rewarding.
I enjoyed writing with Ethan. Of course, he says that the pleasure was all his. It was refreshing to work together on Transparency and take our characters to the edge, putting them into situations that challenge even those who think they already live outside the box.
THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED
Charlie is the quintessential bear. Big, muscular and hairy. But that isn’t the type of men he’s attracted to. He is drawn to men like Taylor—short, smooth, and sexy. Taylor is Charlie’s idea of the perfect twink. But there’s something about Taylor Charlie doesn’t know.
Taylor is unsure about a lot of things, but when he sees Charlie, he instantly knows he wants him. The only issue standing in his way is how Taylor views his own masculinity. He’s afraid that Charlie will leave once he knows the secret Taylor wants to keep hidden. Can he be transparent with Charlie and allow him to look behind the image he’s so carefully constructed?
Taylor studied himself in the mirror, wondering not for the first time if he looked good enough. His dark hair was cropped close to his head, and his blue eyes didn’t give anything away, but his jaw could have been more defined. His friends always said he looked elfin, but that was before. Being short was a bit of an issue, and he had to remind himself that some guys preferred short dudes over towering giants. His muscles were more defined than they’d been a few months ago, and his shoulders looked great, but he’d never be big, not like the other men at the gym where he worked out.
He sighed and his shoulders sagged. The words his mother said the last time she saw him echoed in his head. He knew he’d made the right decision. She may not be able to accept the change, but he felt whole now, like he finally was who he was born to be. From what he saw when he looked in the mirror and when the sexy gym junkies stared at him, he really thought he looked believable enough—hopefully.
Thoughts that he’d never be enough still plagued him, and he feared that no one would accept him for who he really was, but he was working hard to press past the issues and be happy. That’s why he didn’t date anymore. A few months after the first operation, the one that gave him the flat chest he’d always known he was supposed to have, he’d met someone. At first, everything had been great until his boyfriend had figured out the truth. The words stung. Freak had been at the top of the list, then his ex went on from there, saying that Taylor was too weird and damaged. The bastard had actually said he didn’t deserve to live.
Taylor couldn’t live through that again, not yet. Maybe in a few years, after the newness had worn off and his confidence had strengthened, he would be able to survive the taunts and threats, but not today.
Taylor drew in a deep breath before walking out of the bathroom of the fast-food joint toward the street exit. Like usual, he avoided eye contact as he left the restaurant and made his way down the street to Pleasures Entertainment and Bookstore. His heart thumped wildly as he handed over the five dollar entry fee and headed to the back. The store wasn’t packed, but four guys and two girls were milling around, looking at products. A sexy bald man looked up, his piercing eyes drilling a hole straight through Taylor. His steps faltered and he stalled, his feet refusing to move as the man stared at him. He wanted that guy—not for long term because long term wouldn’t work, but a quick blow would feed his fantasies.
The man was freaking hot. That he had no hair on top wasn’t a problem. Even better, a tight beard clung to his sharp jaw, leaving Taylor wanting. The air in his lungs stilled, and he had to remind himself to breathe. If only a man like that could want him, but he usually didn’t have the best of luck with built studs. The intensity from the sexy stranger poured off him like a waterfall, leaving Taylor wondering if he’d drown in the guy’s allure.
He shook off the need, breaking eye contact as he made his way back to the booths. This was his reality for now. He may have wanted to be in that sexy bear’s arms, but he’d settle for a quick way to get off, sucking other guys and pretending it was more.
Taylor glanced over his shoulder one last time as he grabbed for the handle on the door. He was disappointed he couldn’t see the guy he’d eye fucked. His insides twisted thinking about that stranger who was one heck of a sexy bear.