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Belated #TeaserTuesday from Saugatuck Summer (#mmromance coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks) inspired by a FB convo

So over on Facebook, Lisa from The Novel Approach posed this question about barebacking in m/m romance:

Okay, peeps, opinion:

Brand new M/M author, chapter one, first few pages, guys are already gettin’ busy. It’s their first time together, neither are virgins. They bareback, no mention at all of condoms or status.

This is a real-world contemporary, not paranormal, not fantasy.

Thoughts – irresponsible on the author’s part? Not a big deal? What?

This question keeps popping up occasion. Leta Blake has had a couple great posts about her research into why gay men bareback over on her blog, and it came up not long ago at Jessewave as well.

Yesterday, people on Twitter were doing a #UnpopularOpinion thing. Well, here’s mine:

The prevalence of protected sex in m/m romance is out of proportion with reality to the point of being a rather trite.

(/me dons flame-retardant suit. Any flames on this post will be unanswered and/or deleted)

I know WHY this is. M/M romance is written primarily by straight women, and we love the gay men we write about and we want to portray them in as positive and responsible a light as possible and never show them doing things which are, in popular opinion, Bad Things.

But we as storytellers have no moral or ethical obligation to show our characters doing the perfectly correct thing all the time. We do, however, have a moral or ethical responsibility to portray minority characters as fully rounded, complete, un-stereotyped beings. And that means letting them do things that maybe aren’t politically correct.

The Perfectly Correct use of condoms is another branch of the same school of thought that says 1-finger-2-fingers-3-fingers-fuck is the only way to gear up to anal sex, and that spit isn’t lube. Except some men–and women–have anal sex without any manual prep whatsoever, and some of them are perfectly okay using spit as lube. What we assume as gospel because our genre has been preaching it as gospel Ain’t Necessarily So.  When you scream “SPIT ISN’T LUBE” you are basically telling real people who use it as their lube of choice with no difficulties URDOINITRONG.

I think the insistence on the Protected Sex All The Time Unless They Have The Talk trope in m/m romance is its own form of well-intentioned homophobia. First off, because most people don’t raise nearly as much fuss–if any at all–if characters in an m/f romance have unprotected sex. This reinforces the idea that HIV/AIDS is a Gay-Only issue, and yes, it is an issue in the gay community, except maybe there are members of that community who don’t perceive it that way. Who, for whatever reason, to not consider condom usage to be an Absolute Necessity in any and all circumstances. Maybe they’ve just decided it’s their risk to take, for whatever reason they want to risk it.

Secondly, it trivializes the other issues surrounding the choice whether or  not to use condoms, many of which are emotional and personal and subjective to each individual. We like to over-simplify and make it a black-or-white issue, but it ain’t.

If we as writers are going to portray characters within the gay community, we need to give visibility to all its various schools of thought and behavior.

Someday I’m going to write up a blog post about Strain and why I chose the fuck-or-die trope for it. Let’s just say a lot of it has to do with subverting the idea that fluid exchange = death. But this #TeaserTuesday segment is about Saugatuck Summer and one of the many reasons why a character might willfully, knowingly, choose not to use condoms.

And this time I’m going to put it behind a cut because this is actually from Chapter 12 and features a rather significant conflict spoiler.

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#SevenSentenceSunday from Saugatuck Summer (coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks) – Owning it

As usual, my #SevenSentenceSunday snippet is longer than seven sentences. In this passage, we have Topher, a 21-year-old, slightly gender-fluid college student, answering some questions from his BFF’s dad about himself and the reason he’s estranged from his conservative family:

I gave him a slightly self-deprecating smirk, taking a long drink of my zin before it got warm and bitter. “Well, it’s more just giving in to the inevitable, I guess. I mean, really, look at me. I’ve been pinging gaydars since before I knew what being gay was. I flamed as a freaking toddler. I sashayed before I could walk. This isn’t just me putting on a show, it’s who I am. It would be ridiculous for me to even try to be anything else. It is what it is, you know? Might as well own it.”

“Well, it should be self-respect,” Mo said fiercely, giving me a shake. “You got nothing to be ashamed of. You’re amazing.”

I shrugged uncomfortably, leaning my head against hers, almost forgetting Mr. Gardner’s presence as Mo and I fell into that sort of exclusionary, near-telepathic best-friend’s communion. She knew that I would argue that I wasn’t ashamed, but that I just hadn’t quite figured out how to truly mean it when I held my head up high, because my entire life, people had been telling me to keep it down and stop being an embarrassment. I was still in that “fake it ’til you make it” stage, hoping genuine pride would come if I pretended confidence long enough. For now, I was relying on bravado and a complete lack of give-a-fuck to carry me through.

Saugatuck Summer is coming in May, 2014 from Riptide. As usual, this excerpt is not yet edited. Any mistakes are my own.

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#Seven-Sentence Sunday from Saugatuck Summer coming May 2014 from @RiptideBooks #mmromance

In honor of signing Saugatuck Summer with Riptide this week, I decided to share a passage from it for Seven Sentence Sunday. Only it’s more like Seven Paragraph Sunday, because Imma wordy bitch and that’s just how I roll.

Saugatuck Summer tells the story of Topher Carlisle, a 21-year-old college student who is spending the summer at a beach house on the shores of Lake Michigan with his best friend, Morgan Gardner, and her father, Brendan, while he figures out his future and copes with his past. Unfortunately for Topher, he’s developed a slightly awkward crush.

I shrugged. “Fine by me. There’s plenty of eye-candy to go around. Choose your fantasy-fodder and help yourself.”

“Ew. Can you not talk about my dad ogling people? Scarlett Johansson may be gorgeous, but still.”

“It’ll be a challenge, but I think I can refrain from licking the screen,” Brendan deadpanned, placing the wine bottle on the coffee table next to the bowl of popcorn and settling in the chair where he’d been working on his computer earlier.

EW! DAD!”

I laughed so hard I had to set my wine down before flopping onto the sofa, rolling and giggling. When I caught my breath, Brendan grinned at me and dropped a conspiratorial wink.

Oh, Lord have mercy.

That was it, I decided as Mo pressed play. My new mission in life would be to find as many excuses as possible to stay away from the house all summer, before I embarrassed myself by giving away my cute little crush on my BFF’s dad.

Saugatuck Summer is coming May, 2014, from Riptide.

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#TeaserTuesday from Saugatuck Summer

I don’t have a release date yet on Saugatuck Summer, but I’m anticipating it will be spring or summer, 2014. Saugatuck Summer is part new adult/coming of age and part romance. My protagonist, Topher Carlisle, is a 21-year-old college student at a critical time in his life, trying to work out his troubled relationships in his family, reconcile his history of abuse, and figure out where he’s going personally, academically, and financially.

In this segment, he meets his best friend’s father for the first time.

I turned back to trudge up the beach toward the house.

When I reached the bottom of the stairs climbing the dune, a man was coming down. He was dressed preppy-sharp: stonewashed blue Oxford shirt, well-fitted tan slacks. He appeared to be out for a stroll, not coming down to lay around the beach.

He looked like Robert Redford in his prime. Only not quite. The bone structure had that same sort of chiseled definition, but the eyes — which I could see only by virtue of the fact that his sunglasses were that weird sort where the lenses were tinted at the top but not actually dark — were long-lashed and feminine, more like Tom Hiddleston. And the mouth was softer and fuller, like David Wenham.

So, okay. He was basically an amalgamation of every redheaded man to ever turn my crank (and how!) And he lived in a popular gay resort town, which meant the chances were above average that he might actually be interested. Watching him trot lightly down those stairs to the beach, I realized what my objective this summer would be.

Agent Carlisle, your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to find out which of these residences belongs to Mr. Strawberry-Blond Hunka Burnin’ Love and convince him to have sex with you on every horizontal surface — and against a few of the vertical ones.

I was so up for that gig.

He flashed a smile at me as he reached the bottom of the stairs and slid his sunglasses down his nose, revealing eyes so dark and sparkling a blue they made sapphires turn green with envy. And he had deep smile-creases in his cheeks, too long to be called dimples. Suddenly I wondered if my loose shorts were loose enough.

And he was smiling like he knew me. What—?

His hand darted out to shake mine. “Hi, you must be Topher. I’m Morgan’s dad, Brendan Gardner.”

Abort mission! Abort! Abort! Abort!

Seriously? Fuck my life.

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