June is Gay Pride Month. For some people, it’s a time to reflect on political activism and the dangers that loom over gay people worldwide even in 2017. For other people, it’s a time to to remember the accomplishments of the past forty or so years of gay pride and pay homage to figures such as Harvey Milk and, yes, also Barack Obama. For still others, it’s a time to get drunk and throw pink confetti. That’s cool too.
In the world of gay romance, every June brings an upswell in self-reflection about politics and identity and the constant battles of what is gay is. More gay romance authors are more likely to be explicitly political in the context of Gay Pride Month, especially when there have been stunning reversals in global politics. This June, though, something else quite interesting is happening in parallel with the politics of Gay Pride Month: gay comedy romance has become a thing, and in a big way.
ZB Heller’s Sex Ed made a splash. Texting, AutoCorrect and a Prius is on pre-order from M.A. Church. I’ve just released Eclair Express, the most comedic book I’ve ever written. And throughout the gay romance genre now, new releases, as well as new blurbs and marketing angles for old releases, play up the comedy aspect of every novel.
This is good, and it’s good for a couple of reasons. One less-than-obvious reason is that some fifty years ago, representations of gay people in fiction were universally tragic: the message was loud and clear that being gay was a terrible illness, and even if the treatment of gay characters was sympathetic, the tone was never jovial. Those poor gay men and women were no laughing matter. After that, we progressed through a stage in popular culture where gayness itself was a source of humor — who else remembers watching Three’s Company reruns (if you’re old enough, maybe not reruns) and seeing same-sex attraction as the reliable go-to joke?
But here’s where we are now: today’s comedic gay romances, the ones coming from me as well as from other authors established and new, aren’t using homosexuality itself as the joke. Homosexuality is a fact of life, around which the authors build comedic worlds. Because gay people also put their pants on backwards and forget birthdays and accidentally insult their bosses, and all the other standard comedic situations that have been a mainstay of heterosexual romances and stories since forever, but are only now coming into their own in gay romance. If I can make a very rough comparison, heterosexual romance had a romantic comedy boom in the 1990s, and maybe that’s where gay romance is going today. And being gay is not the butt of the joke now, not any more than being straight was the butt of the joke in the 1990s heterosexual romantic comedies.
What about a higher purpose? If we’re proponents or allies of everything that Gay Pride stands for, should we allow ourselves the luxury of writing for laughs?
I used to feel guilty about playing my books for laughs. I used to want to put Very Serious Issues in everything I wrote, and make those serious issues the focus.
But then, as I became more of a real working author and not just someone aspiring to be an author, I started interacting with my fans. And yes, some fans did enjoy reading and thinking about the serious issues I addressed in my books. But many, many more fans contacted me to tell me how much the humor in my books helped them in their real, everyday lives.
My (sort of dumb) jokes helped people deal with everything from dating woes to money woes to the loss of a relative. This was tremendous to me: I was actually really helping people and improving people’s lives and helping them deal with their troubles, sometimes troubles directly related to GLBTQ life, and other times general life troubles that people of any orientation encounter. And it was my comedy books and my jokes that were doing it, not my more serious attempts to be Serious and Important.
I went to college wanting to be a medical scientist. My idealized version of my future adult life was sitting in a lab day and night and churning out things that took away people’s pain and made their lives more bearable. I didn’t pursue medical science, but I’ve found a calling in writing books that, despite their silliness, brighten up my readers’ days.
Celebrate gay pride. And don’t be shy about celebrating the laughs too. They’re an important part of everything.
Eclair Express by Steve Milton
Anatomically correct eclairs, docking spaceships, and no time for covfefe
Eran is a bit gay. Actually, he’s a lot gay. He orders UPS deliveries just for the eye candy, and is no stranger to leaked photos of Travis Fimmel’s best parts. Watching handsome male customers eat eclairs in his bakery is always a sweet treat.
Jake lands at Eran’s eclair shop to suck down a creamy eclair, but makes no secret of his bulbous top asset, nor of his hunger for the house specialty. Eran’s taken that flight before: as soon as they’ve delivered their loads, straight guys turn into covfefe, and he doesn’t want that again.
After Jake docks spaceships with Eran, he’s feeling himself have feelings, but, but — he’s straight, or was straight, or was trying to be straight, or something like that.
Eclair Express is a gay-for-you/straight-to-gay bakery romance with triple-chocolate eclairs, a Siamese cat, lemon rituals, docking spaceships, secret cream sauce, manly love, and a feel-good HEA.
About the Author
Steve Milton writes gay romances with sweet love, good humor, and hot sex. His stories tend toward the sweet and sexy, with not much angst and definitely no downers. Steve crafts feel-good stories with complex characters and interesting settings. He is a South Florida native, and when he’s not writing, he likes cats, cars, music, and coffee.
He is happy to correspond with his readers one-on-one by email, whether about his books or about life in general. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.