Do you love love? You're in the right place.
by Liz Greene


Here’s some food for thought: According to data collected by Destination: Toast!, the top ten most written about relationships on the fanfiction site, An Archive of Our Own (AO3), are all male/male. Furthermore, male/male is the largest category on AO3 — double the size of its closest competing category.

A lot of the readers consuming these “slash” fics are cisgendered heterosexual women; and more than a few confused outsiders are struggling to find the rationale behind it. Why on Earth would straight women want to read about gay sex?

There are numerous explanations, some more nuanced than others, but what I’ve discovered is that it usually breaks down into one of three reasons.

Escapism

Reading has long been an acceptable form of escapism, and for heterosexual women, gay erotica serves as the ultimate form.

Some women have had enough of traditional gender roles and like to fantasize about relationships where dominance, submission, and power aren’t predetermined by sex. Moreover, many women identify with male characters in books, and male/male romances allow them to do so while still enjoying a male love interest.

Others find MM erotic fiction to be a safe place. They don’t have to identify as the woman in the act, instead being able to relax and enjoy the sex as an observer. In either case, the characters’ male gender serves as a buffer between reality and fiction.

Boredom

Heterosexual romance has been done — to death. Every angle has been covered, in every style, and in every setting. It’s omnipresent in books, film, and music. Hell, it’s even in most advertisements.

What’s more, a lot of straight women are in, or have been in, relationships with men. They have that at home — not to mention society shoving it down their throats — so why not read something they have never (and can never) experience?

Stimulation

Women are sexual creatures, and at the basest level, many read gay erotica because they find it arousing. If one man is sexy, two men are doubly so. Two beautiful male bodies in the throes of passion — what’s not to like?

Criticisms

Some consider straight women who read and write MM erotic fiction to be suffering from a form of internalized misogyny. As a feminist, I find this idea to be a particularly abhorrent — so much so that I have a hard time putting my thoughts into words. Luckily, Professor Fangirl put it quite eloquently in her post titled, “It’s Not Misogyny: Sexwriting and the Gender Politics of Slash,”

“My problem is that people have used unconvincing stats about authorship to categorically dismiss the idea that women’s sexual desire for men drives the predominance of M/M fics.”

Desire; It’s a powerful word, and when it comes to straight women and gay erotica, it covers a lot. We desire to immerse ourselves in romance not confined by traditional gender roles. We desire to explore our sexuality in a safe space where women aren’t routinely degraded and oppressed. We desire to be sexual beings and to take control of our pleasure.

That’s why straight women love erotic fiction featuring men.


Liz Greene is a dog loving, history studying, pop culture geek from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.
 by Andrew Heikkila

To commemorate the Stonewall Riots in June of 1969, which sprung up in defense of gay rights and to protest a police raid of the gay club the Stonewall Inn, June has become synonymous with the LGBTQ community as pride month. The President has nationally declared June Pride Month in 2016, and multiple parades and marches around the U.S. showed off all of the beauty, sadness, and activism of a strong community. Here’s a look at some of the bigger events in metropolitan areas:

San Francisco

The theme of San Francisco’s pride celebrations this year was “For Racial and Economic Justice.” Music, parties, and a parade down Market Street took place June 25th - 26th. The proudly named “Dykes on Bikes” contingent rode their motorcycles through the streets, while later on other marchers carried signs to remember the victims of the Orlando tragedy. Hoodline.com quoted a woman named Romney they interviewed during the parade who made mention that the first of these “parades” started in 1978, but back then they were called marches. How the times have changed.

Chicago

Jordin Sparks headlined Chicago’s Pride Fest 2016 on weekend of June 18th - 19th, while Chicago Pride’s 47th anniversary parade took place on June 26th. The Chicago Fire Department showed their support by participating in the parade, and the Chicago Cubs had a float including lesbian team owner Laura Rickets, and openly gay former Major Leaguer Billy Bean front and center. Unfortunately not everything went off without a hitch--apparently Pride at Montrose, a Pride event for people of color, was shut down by police allegedly because the “barricade around the stage was too short.”

Boston

Festival happened the weekend of June 10th - 12th in City Hall Plaza. The parade kicked off Saturday around noon and traveled through the Boston Common. The theme was “Solidarity Through Pride” and included multiple concerts, block parties, and even a youth pride dance. Apparently the Tech and Life Sciences industries were well-represented in Boston, and the parade had record participation from organizations who wanted to march. “Pride is not just a celebration. It’s a political statement,” said one participant. “It’s the one time a year where people who don’t necessarily intermingle with our culture get to see us.” Also, as a fun side note, Boston’s hashtag #WickedProud was trending.

Los Angeles

LA’s Pride Festival also took place the weekend of June 10th - 12th, and included headliners Carley Rae Jepsen, Charlie XCX, and Krewella, the latter apparently doing the honors of marrying a lesbian couple on stage. The parade’s grand marshal was none other than Jewel Thai-Williams, the proprietor of one of the first black gay discos in 1973. Making a special appearance was the cast of the TV show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, Danny DeVito, and Mary Elizabeth Ellis paraded through town on a float made to resemble The Gang’s favorite hangout spot, Paddy’s Pub.

Washington D.C.

D.C.’s Pride Parade was hosted by Capital Pride Alliance on June 11th and took place less than two miles north of the White House with over 180 floats, vehicles, and pedestrians on foot taking part in the festivities. The Pride 2016 celebration as a whole began June 1st and included a 5K run and a concert presented by Hot 99.5 and headlined by Meghan Trainor and Charlie Puth. Melanie Martinez made waves with her performance of Mrs. Potato Head as well. The political gravity of the nation’s capital as a backdrop was not lost on participants “From ten years ago to now it has been so vast and so dynamic, I only hope it progresses even more than it has,” one participant Sarah Marshall told media outlet The Daily Caller. “From today, to tomorrow to ten years from now. That’s really all you can hope for. The type of progression you’d like to see your family and your kids live in.”


New York

New York’s Pride Weekend began with a rally in Hudson River Park on Friday June 24th. On Saturday the 25th a huge march down Fifth Avenue took place while the Hudson Street festival wrapped it up on Sunday with a performance by Fergie. The march included participants NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, activist Al Sharpton, and Dem. Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton. President Obama even came out to commemorate the 47th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and designated the Stonewall Inn as the nation’s first monument to gay rights.



Interesting to note is the popularity and attention that Pride is now getting in June. NBC News published a piece commenting on corporate support for the LGBTQ movement, and questioned whether that support is going to continue after Pride month? Similar corporate initiatives were launched after the historic Supreme Court ruling during the Summer of 2015 when gay marriage was legalized, but national attention has skyrocketed since, in part due to the Orlando tragedy in 2016.

"Gay people especially have a lens that is both welcoming and critical. We are always going to second guess why all of a sudden we are the flavor of the month," Bob Witweck, founder of LGBTQ-marketing firm Witweck Communications, told NBC News.

Nevertheless, the exposure is good, and will hopefully be everlasting.

"We believe that leveraging the power of important cultural moments to help inspire consumers to turn their awareness into action is our responsibility as a socially conscious and ethical company.” says Witweck. “Plus, we have tons of fun doing it!"

Needless to say, Pride 2016 was a success across the country and truly has inspired both action and awareness.
Who Reads MM Romantic Fiction?
- by Tim Youngblood
               
Literature has relished predominance in the envisagement and complexity of emotion, and fascinations that occupy sexual relationships. One could even consider it a part of literary culture and social science. However, this literary tradition has largely been overlooked by social scientists who fail to remove their own cultural biases from their work. Literary knowledge has been ousted by an exceedingly large focus on scholarly content, often dismissing contemporary as easily digestible smut reading. Yet, when we take a well written depiction of a sexual relationship, it can provide us with invaluable insight into the impetus and mental outlook of ordinary people. These novels hold serviceable value in empirical and theoretical knowledge.

Gay romantic literature has been around for ages, it has been discernible and highly criticized since the 1960s in the United States. The genre of literature has been expressed in various forms whether it be drama, fiction, biography, or even poetry. Typically, LGBT fiction will delve into topics of orientation and identity in addition to class, religion, and gender. What has failed to be realized, is the fact that this literature has indeed changed the cultural mindset by facilitating creative and critical processes that reflect the intricacies of the lives and personal relationships within sexual orientation. This desire to learn about the intricacies of romantic relationships is illustrated by the demographics that read these novels.

Many would expect MM romance to be read mostly by gay men. This survey done by Jessica Freely in 2013 shows that romantic curiosity tends to favor the unknown.

MM Romantic Fiction has been marginalized by academia

The term “homoerotic” tends to have a strong misconception behind it, typically being associated with homosexuality. Merriam-Webster does a disservice by simply lumping homoerotic as a synonym for homosexual, a term that originated in the 19th century and was basically forced on the community by social scientists trying to quantify sexuality. The two terms are interconnected, but vary on a few key points. Whereas homoeroticism refers to the sexual attraction of persons of the same sex, homosexuality refers to a defined state of sexual orientation. Sadly, homosexuality was listed as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association until 1987. These forceful social scientists would probably be surprised to know that most readers of MM romantic fiction are in fact women who identify as straight, and that the fiction they read is not reflected by how they identify in terms of gender and sexuality.

Thinking that people want to read about demographics that relate to them is not the case in MM romantic fiction.

There also tends to be an obscure association of homoeroticism within various cultures, specifically designated towards misconceptions of content. What the majority of people think of when they hear of literature containing homoerotic content is caused by a misunderstanding of the genre in itself. It is read in the same way that we consider erotic literature, comprising factual and fictional accounts of human sexual relationships. What is misunderstood is not the writing style, but a lack of knowledge of what writers choose to include in their own content. Eroticism in general will encompass and feature sexual fantasies, themes such as orgies, prostitution, taboo, and fetishes. These are all things that we might see or read within any type of erotica, but MM erotica differs in that even things that would be relatively tame in the realm of MF erotica are taboo due to homophobia in society. The modern MM romantic fiction scene has been full of robust accounts of fact and fiction. While elaborating on sexual fantasy, we also see dramatic roles encompassing hardships experienced by these characters, adding depth and character to modern works.

Now, who reads or enjoys art within the MM erotic genre? It is quite challenging to place a demographic behind it because there are so many people who read this genre of fiction for many different reasons. Both straight men and women who enjoy the stimulation, members of the LGBT community associating with the hardships of society, and audiences from foreign countries seeking insight into the LGBT culture in the US. They all read these works for different reasons. There is a lot more to the genre than the average person would presume, it is growing more popular as it becomes more understood, and the audience grows with the writers. In this case, MM romantic fiction and its readers are books that should not be read by their cover.

MM Romance in Ancient Times

- by Tim Youngblood

In ancient times, the concepts of sexuality and gender vastly differed from the binary systems that we know today. Although the sexes of male and female were noted, things like who people were attracted to or how they dressed were fluid and had no permanent labels. It was actually quite common in ancient religions for their deities to change their sex in various stories. Ancient societies understood the difference between sex and gender better than the majority of society today. The video below illustrates the views of ancient India regarding gender and sexuality, other ancient societies shared similar sentiments.


What did romance between two men look like in ancient times?

It was very common for young men to sleep with older men who would take them on in a mentorship role, a practice referred to as pederasty. This age difference would be considered taboo in modern times, but in ancient times, lifespans were much shorter and young women were sold into marriage as children. So some historical perspective helps with understanding an arrangement that would not be accepted in modern times.

Marriage before modern times was usually more about duty than love, especially for nobility.

This practice was especially common among aristocrats and warrior societies like the Spartans and Samurai. Pederasty wasn’t just practiced; it was encouraged. The younger man gained a role model which, in turn, encouraged the older man to be more honorable to set an example for his young pupil. The relationship would usually end when the younger man came of age, usually around the age of 18, when they could grow a beard. After coming of age, the younger man would go on to do “his duty”, and marry a wife to bear children. Many would continue their relationships with men even after marrying women. In fact, many women were jealous of their husbands’ relationships with their male lovers.

This painting from the Qing Dynasty depicts a woman spying on two male lovers. One of them might be her husband.

Pederasty may have been the most common form of romance between two men, but that is likely a symptom of the aristocracy’s access to writing materials, which is why most historical texts come from the upper class. There is no record of homosexuality being outlawed in ancient Greece, so many romantic dynamics will most likely be forever lost to history.

A Greek painting from around 450 BC depicting a youth playing an aulos for a courtesan.

Why isn’t this information more common?

There are two primary causes for a lack of knowledge on this topic; one of which is a tendency to mis-translate ancient texts. In many older languages, there were no gender-specific pronouns. A love poem would not address the object of the poet’s affection as “him” or “her”, it would simply be a pronoun similar to “they.” Without context, the scholars of yesteryear would assume that these poems and manuscripts were about men and women until recently.

However, many historians purposely neglected to mention these discrepancies in language, effectively censoring many historical texts. This bias can be attributed to the translators speaking gendered modern languages, which were a by-product of the rise of monotheistic religions like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam; which had much stricter requirements for social normality than religions of the past. There is still debate among historians today how accepted romance between two men was in various ancient societies, and the debate likely won’t end soon.

Christianity essentially deemed any sexual act outside of a married man and woman having sex to procreate… probably in the missionary position… as debaucherous and sinful. Gay romance was one the many sexual outliers outlawed by theocratic Western society. Same-sex love arrangements remained prominent in Eastern cultures, but eventually met the same fate as in the Western hemisphere in the 18th and 19th centuries due to colonialism and westernization. As a result of this massive sex-policing, most of the MM romantic stories today center around a “forbidden romance” element. In ancient times, however, there was nothing forbidden about it.

If you’d like to learn more about gay and LGBT romance and sexuality through history, we’ve compiled a list of reading materials on the subject. This list will be updated, so let us know if there are any texts that you’d like to see added to the list!


Ancient Greece



Ancient Egypt



Feudal Japan



Ancient Persia



Ancient China



Ancient India


General Military



The third book in the Promise trilogy is now available


Keep Me Like a Promise


With a wedding in the works, Luke and Brent may finally find the peace they need in their lives. Tad is happy with Marissa, and the gym is more successful than ever. Life, once again, is almost too good to be true. 

Claire lives to support those around her and provide them with warmth and love, but a mysterious woman from her past brings back memories she's locked away, hoping never to be visited again. Will the past she’s tried to leave behind catch up to her and destroy her chance at a happy future? 

Carson and Riley find themselves at an impasse. Carson’s newly assigned partner is a young, hot and flirty gay male, which plants seeds of doubt in Riley’s mind. His rash decisions and ultimatum land him in the worst possible scenario. His year has been rough but it's about to get much rougher. 







Portrait of Pensive American Soldier Resting from Military Operation; Indoor Ruins Location

Welcome to the

2nd MM Memorial Day Scavenger Hunt!

  10 Days, 31 Stops, and loads of prizes! The rules are simple: At each stop on the tour you’ll find a military themed picture with a word or words. Collect the words and figure out the secret phrase (HINT: It’s lyrics to a song). Once you think you have the correct phrase, enter it into the Rafflecopter at any of the stops. Three winners will be selected from all the correct phrases for the three prize packs. Good Luck and Happy Hunting! Our stop’s word is: FOOLS





 

Prize Lists:

1st Place Prize
2nd Place Prize
3rd Place Prize (US Only)
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
***Note: all graphics are stock photos purchased from Adobe.  

List of Stops

May 30
May 31
June 1
June 2
June 3
June 4
June 5
June 6
June 7
June 8





I had a request recently for large print editions of the Mile High Series. And, well, you ask and I deliver. Well, I can't ALWAYS deliver but I try to when possible. And this was a pretty easy request to fulfill. If there is a market for the large print books, I'll create versions of all my other books too. For now, only the Mile High Series is Available. Links to all my paperbacks are at http://ariagracebooks.blogspot.com/p/order-paperbacks.html#largeprint



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