Queer Intergenerational Relationships in Romance and in Writing, reposted from @racheline_m
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I was born in 1972, and was first coming out to myself and other people as AIDS emerged not just globally, but in my community. I grew up in New York City, and my parents were artists. I wanted to go into theater and dance, and I spent a lot of time being lonely and driven and weird.
Like many only children who found other children frightening, confusing, dull, cruel or mysterious, my life was populated by adults: My parents and their friends; my teachers; other mentors; anyone I could get to talk to me as I lied about my age and played at sophistication.
For me, a huge number of those adults were gay men. I know almost none of them now. A tremendous number of them are dead. And mostly, I never, ever talk about this. Because AIDS wasn’t my crisis, and I wasn’t a real friend. Just a child that was let to stand in the doorway and taught her culture as terrible things happened.
Recently, I’ve begun to try to talk about this period in the world and in my life. In part, because my co-writer for LGBT romance fiction, Erin McRae, is 16 years younger than me. When I lied to my parents and snuck out to my first ACT-UP protest, Erin wasn’t even born yet.
Intergenerational transfer of knowledge in queer spaces has, in modern history, been challenging. We were — and too often still are — painted as dangers to children, as predators. The idea of gay teachers, of gay mentors, of gay parents (and please know I tend to use gay for the whole of the QUILTBAG, including my bisexual self) still often seems revolutionary and incomprehensible to me in ways I am ashamed of. The world is getting better for so many of us; when will I stop being surprised?
Erin & I tend to write a lot of age differences in our stories. Some are ten years. Some are thirty years. Some of it we write for the tropetastic goodness. Because someone showing someone else what is possible — professionally, emotionally, and/or sexually — turns us on.
But some of it we write because Erin & I write stories about storytellers. About actors and writers and teachers. About men who never knew the world I grew up in,about men who survived it, and about men that didn’t.
I actually do not believe that the LGBT romance I write (and to be very clear, all four letters of that acronym and then some are present in our current projects) is a political act. After all, as a child, I attended die-ins on the steps of churches. The cops wore latex gloves and masks lest we spit on them, and so my definition of political can be a little intense.
Erin and I’s stories are just stories about people, often a little bit like us, who are trying to make sure the thread of their story keeps going, no matter the risk, no matter the absurdity, no matter if it’s a story everyone wants to hear.
I don’t know, statistically, if there are more novels in the LGBT romance space that address age difference than in the non-LGBT space. As a numbers nerd, I know I would love to find out. Because when we write those age differences in queer fiction, whether we mean it to or not, I suspect it often means a great deal more than just a love of silver foxes.
About Erin McRae & Racheline Maltese
Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese’s gay romance series Love in Los Angeles, set in the film and television industry, is published by Torquere Press. The first novel, Starling, was released September 2014; its sequel, Doves, is scheduled for January 2015. Racheline is a NYC-based performer and storyteller focused on themes of sex, gender, desire and mourning. Erin McRae is a writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C.