Now, I have a lot of strong opinions regarding the differences in the experience as a gay man reading M/M romance written by a straight woman versus a gay man, and I am planning an in-depth post on that when I have the time and wherewithal to articulate myself sufficiently mindfully. But I am compelled to jump ahead and focus on something more specific.
Typically my concern/displeasure/lack of enjoyment comes from feeling a lack of verisimilitude and maleness (not to be confused with masculinity) when reading gay stories by (the preponderance of) heterosexual female authors. However, the inciting incident for this post is not about that so much as a casual misandry and subtle homophobia wrapped in everyday toxic masculinity.
I’m not looking to call out the specific author, but suffice it to say that sexual harassment is sexual harassment, regardless of the genders or sexualities of the parties involved. Just because your story has a bunch of gay dudes together in a work environment does not make it cute, trendy or acceptable to have them engaging in workplace sexual harassment of each other. When your characters use workplace power dynamics in a sexual context to make other characters feel less than or humiliated, that is absolutely sexual harassment. Full stop. Unacceptable. It isn’t funny or justified just because you can throw in some jovial ‘boys will be boys’ lines, or have one character abashedly quasi-acknowledge after the fact that maybe it wasn’t so cool. It is not a justifiable plot device, especially when you leave it as glorified humor. You are absolutely contributing to stereotypes of homophobia, misandry and misogyny, and it is quite frankly shameful.
If a male author wrote a male character treating a female this way you’d scream bloody murder and you know it. So, please, don’t hide behind the ignorance of ‘oh, it is just a bunch of guys’ because wrong is wrong, and I bet if you think about it, you already know it.
This was, honestly, a really disappointing moment for me as a dedicated reader of this author. You need to take hold of your heterosexual female privilege (in this genre) and seriously check yourself. And yes, I have contacted this author privately, so let’s see how — or if — she responds. Though I have to admit, she still managed to make me flex my feelnads, even while I will still pissed as all giddyup.