Posts in the LGBT genre

Guest Post

Guest Post: “Otome Games, Toxic Masculinity, and Non-Traditional Masculinity in M/M” by Xen Sanders

From The Ashes Xen Sanders

I have a very sheepish confession to make:

I play otome games.

If you aren’t familiar with the term, “otome” means “maiden,” and they’re called “maiden games” because they’re targeted toward throngs of eager young female players who want their own pretty bishounen (beautiful boy) paper doll to dress up, chat with, and…pretend he’s knocking boots with the other boys in the game, not the girls they’re actually supposed to be dating?

Yep. Even though it’s basically Neko Atsume with boys, while the original goal was a story-style hetero dating game, what otome games attract the most are M/M fans who love their pretty men and love it even more when they dress up in appealingly flamboyant, stylish outfits…and then kiss. (You may have heard of the term “fujoshi.” I’ve seen some Westerners wear it proudly, even though fujoshi, like otaku, is actually an embarrassing label in Japan.) I can see why; many of these games originate in Japan and Korea, and it shows. In both countries, masculinity standards are different; there’s no one uniform for it, but things like sensitivity and grace can be praised rather than derided. Men pursue hobbies and passions that Westerners consider traditionally feminine, and it’s normal; what matters is the dedication to perfecting a craft. Men know how to take care of themselves without being babied by a spouse or parent (well, for the most part, let’s not get into hikikomori or the fact that sometimes some people are just slobs regardless of gender or culture.) It’s not embarrassing for men to care about their appearance as much as women, and some (very heterosexual) men in Korea even use skin care products and makeup, while the rise of KPop has created an entirely new era of men’s fashion that flatters men’s figures in ways that, in the West, might seem effeminate. You can see the same in JPop; both are subcultures that represent less the culture of a country and more a media-sensationalized ideal, but what they do is serve to normalize and even cater to ideas of masculinity outside what we’re used to in ways that blend into everyday society over time.

You can imagine why that would be popular and make such a huge transition from East to West in the form of games, manga, anime, J-Drama, K-Drama, music. In the West, in the United States in particular, we have such a culture of toxic masculinity that men are taught to repress our feelings because anything else makes us feminine and gay, and both those things are painted as negatives instead of positives. “Metrosexual” is used as a mocking insult. We’re taught to do this constant dance of making sure our every action is manly enough. Where women can call their female friends “girlfriend” without it being a thing, if we call our male friends “boyfriend” we’ll get punched in the face. The hetero quadrant of our demo will riot over the inclusion of a gay and/or trans character in their favorite game, because how dare something have 1% of content not catered exclusively to them. We live in a constipated snit of hair-trigger male egos and desperate attempts to prove our status as a manly-man worthy of dragging someone back to our cave by the hair and mating with them. At best, it makes it entirely frustrating to deal with our bull-headed and entirely fragile male egos. At worst it leads to misogynistic behavior that can express itself in sexual harassment, violence, assault. Basically men in the West are an unstable, unpredictable powder keg, and when women come together to share stories of the things they deal with every day from men, it’s really not surprising.

So is it surprising, too, that women (and some queer guys) flock to this imported subculture that creates a safe environment for exploration of other, less rigid forms of masculinity?

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Exclusive Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt: BEST GAY EROTICA OF THE YEAR: VOLUME 2

Best Gay Erotica Volume 2 Rob Rosen

Who doesn’t love a little adventure along with their steamy reads? Meet Roman legionnaires, dashing Britannic thieves, Egyptian royal guards and ice-impervious Vikings in the second volume of Best Gay Erotica Of The Year! We’ve got a sneak peek below:


Dark. The smell of smoke. The light of a lamp falling on his face, hurting his eyes. A flinch, and the pain biting like an axe buried, rocking into bone. A wail breaking from his chest.

An arm supporting his shoulders. “Drink, Roman.” The clink of a cup against his teeth and a bitter mouthful, spraying as he coughed.

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Q&A

Q&A: Tessa Bailey of WOUND TIGHT

Wound Tight Tessa Bailey

Tessa Bailey is here, and she’s brought exactly what we needed to veg out to after a long day of work: Movies. So many great movies. Tune in for an awesome chat with a fantastic author (and phenomenal lady) and don’t miss her latest M/M Romance, Wound Tight, out today!


What are your five favorite movies with romance or romantic elements?

Oooh! This is going to be fun. Here they are in no particular order!

Silver Linings Playbook: The romance between Pat and Tiffany hits me really hard every time. The progression of it, the arguing, the blowups, the moments of connection culminating in the dance contest. All of it was perfect to me.

Safety Not Guaranteed: Man puts out an ad asking for someone to help accompany him to the past in his time machine. Journalist (Aubrey Plaza) answers the ad. I won’t ruin the ending, but I dare you not to cheer when it happens. It’s amazing.

Love and Basketball: I played varsity basketball for four years in high school and whenever we rode the bus to away games, we huddled together and watched this. It’s a gorgeous movie. The couple has a lot of bumps along the way but their love wins. Young Omar Epps, you guys. Get in on this.

Bridesmaids: To me, there are two romances in this film. And my favorite is between Annie and Lillian (her best friend). It’s such a realistic portrayal of friendship between women (like, apart from the pooping in the street). The romance between Annie and Rhodes, the Irish cop, does not hurt, either.

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “Drawing from the Well of Soul” by Amy Lane

Summer Lessons Amy Lane

Once upon a time, I was seven years old. My parents had just split up, my dad didn’t get back from work for a couple of hours, and the rule was, I didn’t go out and play unless he was home and knew where I’d gone. Our television was black and white and back then, we got two hours of child friendly programming before the news came on and that was it. (Gilligan’s Island, I Love Lucy, The Brady Bunch—this is why everyone my age loves those shows.) I was lonely, bored, and probably hungry.

I wrote.

Not with a pen and paper, or, even better, a computer (God, what I could have done with a computer!) but by sitting my stuffed animals in a circle around me on the floor and telling them a story. They were a very good audience, except for the stuffed dog who kept falling over.

Didn’t matter. I wrote.

Several years later in a different time, I was a young-ish mother who had lost her job and had two children under two on a six-acre spread in a drafty house in the middle of nowhere. My son had a communication handicap, my husband worked and went to school eighty hours a week, and I had no car.

I wrote.

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Autumn Thorns Yasmine Galenorn
Guest Post

Guest Post: “Constant Craving” by Amy Lane

Tart and Sweet Amy Lane

You know that moment I’m talking about.

The one where you have eaten nothing but non-fat protein and un-buttered broccoli for going on three days in a row, and suddenly you see it: That perfect combination of butter, refined sugar, white flour, candied fruit and/or marshmallow-swaddled chocolate—whipped cream and cinnamon optional, sin always required.

And you need to make it yours.

Oh… you need to make it yours. You will DAIEEEEEEE if it is not yours. You will mow down with prejudice the poor, well-meaning soul who stands between you and your Chocolate Mephistopheles and screams, “For the love of heaven, remember your diet!” and there will be blood, tears, and no remorse.

For the love of chicken and broccoli, how do you resist such a gut-ripping, life-blood-pumping, necessary to your sanity craving?

One of the most surprising bits of advice from Weight Watchers is… don’t.

That doesn’t mean eat Chocolate Mephistopheles all day every day (and if anyone can create a dessert that lives up to this name, I will eat it all day every day). It just means, on those days when your nearest and dearest are at risk if they intervene, get the Chocolate Mephistopheles—eat it.

Well, not the whole thing.

But, say, get your bestie, order your sin, and eat it with two spoons. Gather the family, take them to the patisserie, and split it four ways. Order it, cut it into eights, and stretch it out over two days.

There are a lot of ways to give into a little temptation without going up three sizes and running away from the gym in shame. Because the alternative?

Even the most controlled of martyrs has a snapping point. The person who fails to indulge in Chocolate Mephistopheles in a safe situation today is the person who goes face first and feral into the Cheesecake Azazel at two a.m. next week and washes it down with a diet coke and pomegranate juice to boot. (Anti-oxidants make up for everything, right?)

So indulgence is not a bad thing, really. In small quantities, it sort of makes us human.

Unless you’re talking about reading.

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Steals & Deals

Deal Alert: K.J. Charles, Tawna Fenske, and Jen Frederick

Would we ever send you off on a Labor Day weekend trip without something good to read? Or a lot of good things to read? Never. Get these great books by K.J. Charles, Tawna Fenske, and Jen Frederick while the sale lasts!


A Fashionable Indulgence: A Society of Gentlemen Novel by K.J. Charles

In the first novel of an explosive new series from K. J. Charles, a young gentleman and his elegant mentor fight for love in a world of wealth, power, and manipulation.

When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a Radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.

After witnessing firsthand the horrors of Waterloo, Julius Norreys sought refuge behind the luxurious facade of the upper crust. Now he concerns himself exclusively with the cut of his coat and the quality of his boots. And yet his protégé is so unblemished by cynicism that he inspires the first flare of genuine desire Julius has felt in years. He cannot protect Harry from the worst excesses of society. But together they can withstand the high price of passion.


About That Fling Tawna Fenske
About That Fling by Tawna Fenske

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Guest Post

Recommended Reading: LGBT Spins on Classic Romance Tropes from Megan Derr

Hello!

My name is Megan Derr. I am an author of queer romance. I am also co-owner of Less Than Three Press, in the interests of full disclosure since some of my recs are from there. But they are honestly among my favorites – that’s why I contracted them!

But I did pull recs from all over the place. I tried to keep things short and failed miserably, but if you are looking for some LGBT spins on some classic romance tropes, here are some excellent places to start (I actually have many, many more, but nobody wants to read a fifty-page post). I tried to keep to just 3-4 per trope, but some get bonuses.

I will likely be doing more of these in the future, on my own blog so as not to plague Ever After, if you should need more recs down the road.

In no particular order:

MAY/DECEMBER

Just a Bit Ruthless by Alessandra Hazard (M/M, Gay, Bisexual, Contemporary) is about a young man who is kidnapped by his father’s enemy. My favorite part of this book is that the MC has always had to suppress who he is because he lives in such a macho world, where even his friends unintentionally say hurtful things, and this big, brusque man who kidnaps him is the first to understand and accept all that the MC wants, needs, and is.

a boy called cinA Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde (Genderqueer, Trans, Bisexual, Contemporary) – one of the books I published, about a business tycoon billionaire and a college student, so two tropes! It’s a lot of fun and #ownvoices

Room at the Top by Jane Davitt and Alexa Snow (M/M/M, Gay, Bisexual, Contemporary) – This book is one of my comfort reads. I’ve read it 500 times at least, as well as its sequel. The only thing I hate is that they’re not in print so I can put them on my bookcase of favorites. It is BDSM, if that’s of interest/not interest, and done well by people who know what they’re talking about.

Bonus recs:

Breakaway by Avon Gale (M/M, Bisexual, Contemporary)

Return on Investment by Aleksandr Voinov (M/M, Gay, Contemporary)

On the Trail to Moonlight Gulch by Shelter Sommerset (MM, Gay, Historical)

(I am supremely frustrated I apparently have not read any F/F May/December, if YOU have recs, I would appreciate them. This is one of my fav tropes)

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Guest Post

Guest Post: “Not ‘Just Another'” by Sarah Nicolas

Keeping Her Secret by Sarah Nicholas

A couple of weeks ago, I saw author Dahlia Adler tweet about how important it is that diverse books are finally putting more faces on some of the “same old” stories, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. From many people, especially those who have been able to see themselves represented in media thousands of times, there comes this assumption that we should all be happy with the white cishet versions of stories. But what Adler said — and I agree with — was that the creation of diverse stories within these established frameworks is incredibly important.

When I tell someone about a court intrigue fantasy I’m reading, where the princess starts falling for her betrothed prince’s sister, I get so many unenthusiastic responses of “oh that sounds like [insert one of a dozen court intrigue fantasies here], but just with two girls.” While I tamper down my initial response of, “heck yeah, it does!” and move right past my mind asking, “What do you mean just with two girls??” I wonder why that person doesn’t also object to the twelve-thousandth* YA court intrigue fantasy where a white cishet princess is engaged to a white cishet prince and ends up falling for the white cishet gardener/stable boy/musician/other prince/soldier/etc. (*12,000 might be an exaggeration. Maybe.)

Given that there are only seven basic plots (according to Christopher Booker), most books can be described as “just another ____ but with _____,” but that’s only a problem if the main characters are diverse. Even if a concept or hook is similar to another book (which, again, it always will be), the story isn’t the same. The background of the characters informs the characters’ actions in both overt and subtle ways.

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Q&A

Q&A: Rebecca Grace Allen of THE THEORY OF DEVIANCE

Theory of Deviance Rebecca Grace Allen

We’re thrilled to have this Q&A with the queen of sexy and soul-searching, Rebecca Grace Allen! Her latest book, The Theory of Deviance, is out tomorrow!


What are your five favorite movies with romance or romantic elements?

It’s so hard to choose, but if I had to narrow it down, it would be Enchanted, French Kiss, The Notebook, 27 Dresses, and Stardust.

 

Describe your favorite scene from each one (you can include a Youtube clip if you want as well).

Enchanted has so many amazing scenes. A dancing musical scene set in Central Park? How can you not love it? But overall favorite is during the ball, when Robert sings while they’re dancing, despite telling Giselle he didn’t sing or dance.

 

French Kiss is one of my all-time favorite movies. I can recite full scenes from memory. And my favorite is when Kate is making fun of Luc, mimicking his accent and grumbly attitude, and the look he gives her afterward. It’s the moment they go from enemies to friends, right before the switch to lovers.

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Exclusive Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt: L.A. Witt’s HIATUS

Hiatus L.A. Witt

Fans of M/M Romance, we’ve got a  taste of something special just for you! We fell in love with this emotional little sneak peek into L.A. Witt’s Hiatus the minute we jumped in. And now? You get to too! (Congrats!)


I couldn’t decide if I should take off my wedding ring or leave it on.

Lying in a small, borderline shitty hotel off the interstate in Amarillo, waiting for Nate to text me, I turned the gold band over and over between my fingers.

Cam had stopped wearing his almost immediately. No one asked him questions if he showed up without it. His clients were used to him not wearing one—he never wore his ring or his watch while he was working.

I worked in one of those offices where people noticed. A coworker had come in without his wedding ring once, and the whispers had started flying before he’d even reached his desk. Turned out he’d smashed his hand on something over the weekend. He’d wisely removed the ring before his finger had swelled up too much. A week later, the ring was back on, and when he brought his wife to the Christmas party a few months later, people finally stopped speculating about trouble in paradise.

If I didn’t wear mine, people would notice. And I really, really didn’t want to talk about it.

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