Melanie M Thoughts On Labeling – Isn’t It Time to Put Away GFY?
Funny isn’t it when all lines of thought lead to a convergence of minds? That seems to have happened this past week or two. But I’ve been thinking of it for some time. And it seems to come down to this.
A simple word that applies to so many people that can be so very hurtful when used or misused, intentionally, unintentionally, or just because thats a pattern that everyone has fallen into over time. The M/M romance community has been very vocal of late about one author’s latest release and whether its a GFY or bisexual or what have you. More on that later. But that’s not a new argument, trust me. She is but the latest target which is unfortunate and undeserved.
We should be long past such discussions. I had sort of hoped that we were.
When LGBT enlarged to embrace more of the sexual spectrum to become LGBTQIA, I was encouraged. It made me hopeful that I would see a change in outlook on people and in our ability to become more open in our perspectives on not only romance but relationships, people, in every aspect would follow. And to a degree, that’s happened.
But only to a degree as these past weeks have born witness.
Labels and peoples unwillingness to see beyond certain rigid character/sexual definitions still continue to amaze me. Do you know I still read/hear people say? That bisexuality is still a stop over on the road to gaytown. As though it has no legitimacy, no validity of its own. Its as though people cannot imagine being attracted to both sexes so obviously they are in denial and therefore, not bisexual at all. And yes, from the discussions held from friends and strangers on the subject, that amount of dismissal and outright contempt that attitude shows hurts.
There’s another issue here. That’s the GFY label. That’s the one that holds so many awful connotations, ones I don’t think people have thought about. We are long overdue to put that label aside for good.
GFY. Gay For You. How cutsey. How not. What? Someone can wave a magic wand and make that person gay? Just for them? People? Have you not heard enough rightwingers or conservative religious believers spout that at you already? Why on earth would you want to perpetuate that as a label? No, you can’t make someone gay for you. Look at the science. We know enough about the sexual spectrum. We are past this. Long, rainbow colored, unicorn, flag waving, past this.
People are pansexual, bisexual, asexual, asexual romantic, omnisexual, lesbian, gay, every wonderful sexual or non-sexual out there. But they aren’t fucking gay for you! Now having said that, it doesn’t mean that LGBTQIA and non fiction isn’t having an impact in the world, even, sigh, the so-called GFY labeled novels. Here is part of a wonderful FB post from TJ Klune about the current GFY dustup and a email he received:
So, here’s the thing.
I see drama crap in this genre again, people saying what an author can or cannot write about, if GFY is an acceptable trope or if it’s erasure.
Here’s some perspective to make you think if we’re truly arguing about something petty, or if there is something bigger we could (and should) be focusing on.
Part of an email I received from a reader:
“I live in the most homophobic place on earth where you get stoned to death if you’re discovered as a homosexual. I am from Iraq.
You made me laugh and cry, fall in love, be heart broken and be angry and make stupid mistakes with them. your books are my haven from a prejudiced, blood thirsty reality. you made me believe that there’s beauty in who we are. Paul and Sandy’s friendship? Bear and Creed’s? God, what wouldn’t I do to have that. Paul’s family, his parents, his Nana and even johnny Depp. They’re hope shining and bright and something I wish my family was, something I wish I would be in hopefully a long time.
This has become too long and you may never read it. But, I had to tell you that reading your books is a necessity for me, a drug that keeps me sane when I’m pushed to my breaking point for simple silly things like not wearing a head scarf or wearing makeup. You showed me love in all it’s capacity, in all it’s craziness. I know I may never find something like that but at least I’ll feel it through your characters, through you and your power I won’t say ability no it’s your power to channel emotions.”
That’s heartbreaking and very powerful stuff. It made me cry and made me more determined to get this out in the right way. Enough to give you pause, right?
And from another literary corner, author Amy Lane, with many terrific thoughts too on the subject, chiming in here from her blog: http://writerslane.blogspot.com/2016/03/your-drug-of-trope.html?m=1&zx=aab514f9a1daa573. She talks a little about the history, science and authors viewpoint. It works but perhaps again doesn’t take in enough of the impact.
Yes, GFY is a literary trope, one that has a history behind it, one that authors themselves may not even use. But if the ones that write the reviews use it, if the ones that read the reviews use it, then it still continues to have power. Power it shouldn’t have.
Maybe I’m not looking at the wider view yet. Does this label have an impact on those who are fighting for their lives in third world countries because of who they love? No, it doesn’t. Maybe. But its a perception of love that has a power that carries through populations that might surprise you for such a tiny label that I’m fighting for here.
GFY. Gay For You.
On the back of that small three letter label stands centers that think they can change a person’s sexuality, people that think being gay is a disease that can be cured, politicians with banners of hate and a sexuality that’s like magic that can come and go with the wave of a magic wand.
Too strong? Maybe.
Or maybe not.
So if its not the writers, maybe it time for us reviewers and readers to ditch the GFY, from our reviews, vocabularies, our tagging, and our minds. Let’s take the first step together. Really its not as big a step as you think.
On our next reviews, instead of GFY, how about pansexual if it applies, omnisexual, bisexual or, even asexual romantic or somewhere along the sexual spectrum wherever that character may stand. There is a host of applicable terms…lets use them. Let’s talk to the author, open up a discussion on sexuality. This could be an amazing opportunity. Let’s not lose it to get lost in negativity but use to to move forward once more.
How do you all feel about this? I want to know. Are you ready to give up your old labels and move forward? Let’s put GFY behind us and move forward towards the diversity that LGBTQIA stands for in everyway.