The issues people have identified range from: GFY stories don't exist in reality to Bierasure to Objectifying Men to it's really Out For You romance to it denies/minimizes the coming out experience to many other reasons why GFY upsets some people.
Taking a step back:
Sexuality is complex. We are expanding our understanding of it on a daily basis. You have the Kinsey scale then the Kline model... lots of different ways to quantify something so personal and subjective. Is it any wonder people struggle? I wish there were more information to help us understand of ourselves and the people around us.
Even under fire GFY is wildly popular.
Usual reasons sited:
*Creates instant deep tension.
Less discussed reasons:
*It's a vehicle a number of people (I know personally) credit for allowing them to question their sexual orientation or gender identity. Watching the characters boldly go where we ourselves have struggled to go is beneficial and I'd even say in some cases therapeutic.
*One of the takeaways from GFY is usually your feelings may be scary/different/not who we thought we were but in the end it's okay to follow your heart and BE YOURSELF.
*The message I usually hear echoing through almost every story is love is stronger then societal defined gender lines (which as someone who falls on the nonbinary side of things is incredibly validating).
Sooooo it's more than just hot.
However, lumping everything under one trope can hurt people we don't want to do that. Though not everyone who falls in love with someone of the same sex is gay or even bi.
Put down your pitch forks! There's a lot of variation within m/m romance perhaps the spectrum needs to be better sussed out? The nonbinary bunny will point out that there's also : demisexual (needing a strong emotional connection to feel attraction), biromantic, transoriented, queer, pansexual, androgynosexual, questioning, heteroflexible, BDSM (In Iceland BDSM is considered an orientation that trumps gender therefore someone who could make them submit or dominate is where the attraction resides not the gender), skoliosexual, and there other sexual identities/orientations and within each of these there are variations ((some of the orientations were plucked from this list: http://poshhelpers.tumblr.com/post/41062616375/sexual-orientations-masterlist))
Here's a list given by 2 guys clowning around... (I wish it was more serious but they are trying but I thought their take on labels interesting... and please know asexual doesn't mean sad or being alone.)
Here's a video that explains biromantic...(the above video didn't cover)
Some Things Creating The Hurt (possibly):
Personal bias: While for some of us sexual orientation is straightforward... for others sexuality is more nuanced and dare I say more fluid.
Skill/Knowledge of the writer: I'll be the first one to raise my hand and say I wish I had more skill to present the complex fabulous characters that live in my head. Also my knowledge and understanding of sexuality is still growing daily and my understanding is changing based on new studies, discussions, books, people I meet...
Sexual identity: person's view of themselves.
Sexual behavior: actions participate in
Sexual Orientation: who person is attracted toward.
Take the word: Attraction... How much "attraction to people of the same sex" makes you gay? How much sexual behavior determines if you are gay, straight. bi, demi, etc (FYI: NOTHING MAKES YOU GAY) What if this person only wants this one other person of the same sex... does that make him/her bi or demisexual or sexually fluid or ... ?
Labeling: Right or wrong it is the individual that determines when the label is appropriate and if he/she/them identifies with it. (And as much as you think you know better based on the person's actions or words you SHOULD NOT slap labels on people... even if they seem accurate to you.)
Here's a video on lesbian, bisexuality and demisexuality. (I love when she says: "I'm kind of a mix of the two." cause that's the nuance we need to tease out.)
But GFY can cause hurt and I don't want anyone to be hurt. (And I know my Tribe doesn't want to hurt each other).
So what can we do?
I'm looking at my Pretties and truly asking for more suggestions so we can help end the hurt. If you've spoken out about this, or have been hurt I'd love to some concrete suggestions to move us away from hurting each other and into helping us understand. (If you're able to do so).
Here are some of my suggestions:
The more we learn about different types of sexual orientations the better our understanding is about everyone around us & ourselves (As a writer this translates into more diverse and complex characters).
CLARIFY. Is the character: bisexual, demisexual, questioning, gay, or one of the sexualities and then make sure the reader understands where the character is coming from... I believe the writer needs to shoulder some of the responsibility to address the some of the negative/potential issues & the hurt some people might feel.
RESPONSIBILITY: Those of us who are able should take the time to increase the understanding of others because we all want to make the world a better place. If not us who? (I'm not the best person to talk about asexuality/name an orientation but fuck the conversation needs a place to start. Usually I'll find a YouTube video and go from there... but I'm thrilled when someone with a certain experience/orientation/viewpoints shares their first hand knowledge.)
REACH OUT: If a writer is hurting you by their stories reach out and help them understand... (Chances are they aren't doing it on purpose) Vague statements/posts only confuse people. If we want to actually effect change we need to reach out (if we're able).
Here's a script: "Z. you really hurt/offended me when you wrote X."
It allows me the opportunity to apologize for hurting you cause it is never my intention & allows me to understand what I did and how I can adjust in the future. And maybe I can reach out to you for assistance as a resource so I don't make the same mistakes again.
Be the change you want to see in the world...
Many hugs and much love,
You might check out this orientation list.
(BTW at YaoiCon 2016 so many attendees told me how Yaoi allowed them to come to terms with who they were. Their sexuality ranged from asexual, bisexual, gay, lesbian, pansexual and questioning. For them Yaoi was a safe place to figure out who they were and explore what they liked. I think I'll do a future post and discuss Yaoi specifically because there are cultural implications since this type of manga was born in Japan. Having lived in Asia and traveling to many of the countries including Japan there is a different relationship people have with sex, intimacy and each other. The LGBTQIA movement is moving at a different rate... anyway future post.)