Gay for you – abfab or horrible?

Recently a gay friend of mine asked me “What is it with gay for you stories? Why do chicks like them?” I tried to come up with a great, thorough explanation on the spot about masculine men and fantasies and really had no idea. So I’m asking!

 

Do you like Gay for You story lines?

Why or why not?

 

Is it because the idea of turning a straight guy gay is appealing?

Or is it tapping into a fantasy of that straight guy getting it on with a hot gay guy?

Or even does it fuel a sort of fantasy thinking that a hot gay guy will turn straight for you?

 

I’m trying to think why I like them and I can’t say that I prefer them as a theme more than other ideas. I like the yaoi gay for you exaggerated stories because they’re fun, clever, and usually outrageous. But the average best friends turns lovers (one is suddenly gay) tends to be a hard sell, but can still work.

 

I’d love to know your thoughts.

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49 thoughts on “Gay for you – abfab or horrible?

  1. Hi, Kassa! That’s a good question. I like the theme, too, if it’s believable, and it’s hard to say why.
    Part of it might be because it says something about the power of love. Two personalities connect despite some formidable odds and find a way to be together. Their love is so strong that the straight guy (or guys) would consider changing his life (their lives) and taking such a huge step to be with his lover (be together).
    The other part of it might be the opportunity for more conflict and the lure of the forbidden. The gay-for-you theme just offers more turmoil than the gay utopia story in which the two guys are fine with being gay and everyone else is fine with it.
    In the gay-for-you story, you’ve got the guys trying to sort out what’s going on and if their attraction for one another is real. Then you’ve also got an opportunity for conflict in that one or both may face resistance from all of their family and friends who know them as straight.
    There is just a lot more going on in this type of story. And then to have them defy all this peer pressure and choose to be together anyway in the face of heavy disapproval or risk — well, then, we’re back to the power of love again. Lots of emotion and excitement in this type of story!

    • ahhh romance, conflict, tension, and true love! (or tru wuv!)… it’s true, GFY storylines do tend to have it all. I didn’t even think of it that way – the potential conflict, overcoming a potentially huge obstacle – but you’re right.
      That kind of makes me see it in a whole new light..

  2. I’m a total romantic sap, Kassa. The idea that love can so powerful that societal standards of “gay” and “straight” don’t really apply is incredibly appealing to me. And there’s something about the growth of a friendship into something deeper and richer that appeals to me as well; the trust involved, the openness to new experiences, stepping into the unknown together. I love it when friendship provides such a firm foundation that love and sex can be built on it easily and organically. Some of my favorite het romances involved step-brothers and best friends, primarily for the reasons listed above: there was already a solid, loving relationship between the main characters and it grows into more by adding sex into the equation. Yum! Make it about two men and the hot quotient goes exponentially higher. Make it about two alpha males who find pleasure, solace, trust and comfort by taking that leap, and you can stick a fork in me — I’m DONE. πŸ™‚

    • I love this response. I mean I’m a huge fan of romance fiction – wait you’re shocked of course – but I never really saw GFY storylines as more romantic than others. I can see what you’re saying but for me, I immediately thought “well if you’re not really gay you wont stay together.” Horrible I know but to me I always thought of it as less romantic but all these responses may change my mind lol.

  3. Hmm.
    I suspect that all the reasons Valkovalin mentioned are legit, plus one other that might come into play: A guy who’s never strayed from the “straight and narrow” before is likely to be more traditionally masculine in looks and behavior.
    I may be way off on this, but I’ve seen lots of straight female readers say they prefer at least one member of a fictional m/m relationship to be more traditionally masculine. With the notable exception of YEAR OF THE CAT, I tend to write more “butch” characters anyway — whether they’re gay or bisexual (hell, even my heroines in m/f romances tend to eschew uber femininity) — so I can’t speak to it from an author’s POV, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the reason for at least a few readers liking “gay for you” storylines.

    • Re: Hmm.
      Very good point Selah and that was immediately what came to mind when I was trying to explain. I sort of assumed that readers may like the idea of a very man’s man, masculine. I think it plays into a lot of stereotypes but after all fiction does very well with well known stereotypes and archetypes. I’m glad I’m not the only one that thought that..

  4. For me, it really isn’t about gay/straight. It’s about being so drawn to someone that you’re willing to put aside differences–even huge onces most people could never overlook–to be together. To me it’s nothing more than an extreme version of opposites attract.

      • Oh gosh…let’s se…
        A Helping Hand by Shayla Kersten
        Without Reservations by JL Langley
        Jet Mykles’ Heaven Sent series
        The Assignment by Evangeline Anderson
        Faith & Fidelity by Tere Michaels
        Snow Angel by Sharon Maria Bidwell
        One Two Punch by Katie Allen (m/m/f)
        That’s all I can think of for now.

        • I need to re-read the Heaven Sent series… again. So fabulous.
          Hmmm I’ll definitely check out Snow Angel by Bidwell. I liked another of her stories.
          Thanks!! Might need to go on a GFY binge.

  5. It has to be careful how it’s done for me to like it.
    Having been through ex-gay therapy myself and been traumatized by it, it’s difficult for me to like a story where someone says that they’ve “turned gay,” because that just means that you could conceivably be “turned straight.” And there’s a LOT of pain behind that kind of thing.
    The only time I really like it is if the issue of sexuality scales are explored — the issue of bisexuality, for one. It is conceivable for someone to be *mostly* attracted to one gender, but occasionally attracted to another. If that is the case, I’m much better with that than to say someone can be “turned” straight or gay. That scares the ever-loving crap out of me, because that just means that all these radical religious groups could have a basis for the kind of torment they put confused gay people through.
    So yeah. I mean, one could say I’m asking too much for fiction to deal that closely with reality, but when the fiction is about something that’s your life instead of some exotic “other” possibility, you kind of tend to be more cautious with things.

    • Yes, this, to start with. And then some.
      For me, it feels like GFY (esp. when both characters are GFY) trivializes queerness or holds it at arm’s length, so that the story is about a fetish (queer sex) and not about true queerness. And, as a bisexual who’s been treated as the ugly unicorn and rejected from both queer and straight spaces — in person, not just in the abstract — I hate seeing bisexuality seen as some exotic accident.
      What does it say about queerness when books celebrate “I love you so much, I’m willing to overlook your body parts” and “I love you so much, I’m willing to be GAY for you”? I feel much the same about books in which the protagonist’s goodness is underlined by their willingness to be with a disabled person. “I love you so much, it doesn’t matter if you’re blind/deaf/using-a-wheelchair/etc. I’m willing to overcome that obstacle to be with you.” Seriously? That obstacle is my LIFE, or the life of someone I know and love.
      I could go on but I’m just going to get angry.
      There is a huge difference between GFY and “you make it safe for me to explore this part of me” or “I’ve grown into this part of my life” and other themes that make the same-sex relationship (or whatever it may be) part of a character’s growth and change of values and expansion of vision and so on… and even then, it has to be done carefully.
      Because, seriously, we are not some exotic country to be visited in your gap year, no matter how enriching it may be.

        • (My replies are getting out of order! lol) but ..
          “you make it safe for me to explore this part of me”
          This is fabulous. That is really romantic and now I want to read such a story.

      • THIS so much.
        These tropes are grossly offensive. They’re going to love DESPITE the gay? They’re going to work PAST the gay? They’re williong to make the supreme sacrifice of being one time gay with this person (because gods forbid they may actually be gay or bisexual). Yeah, anger is the word

    • *noddles* Thats a fabulous point to make. I guess my initial thoughts on GFY stories are they are pure fiction. I know several people, some very closely, that have been in their own gay for you relationships. Women who have been with one woman only but still claim they aren’t lesbians and the same with guys, even some guys with girls who say they are gay – just in love with one particular girl (yea I never really believed that one).
      But sadly each one ended badly because the person would eventually realize they are simply not gay, or straight, and feel the relationship wasn’t right. So while I can enjoy a well written GFY, and many have said it’s the ultimate in romance, I just keep thinking “but it never works out!”

      • Yeah, I knew a couple where one girl was self-identified lesbian, and the other was self-ID’d straight, but just thought she was hot… God. That one ended so badly. Because, yeah.

    • WORD to this, so much. With the battle over the ’cause’ of sexual orientation so much at the forefront of peoples’ minds in the fight over gay rights, or the restriction of gay rights, I can’t help but feel a little shiver go down my spine whenever another GFY story comes out. No pun intended. It just helps to feed into that belief that sexuality is a choice, and tomorrow any gay man could become straight if the ‘right woman’ comes along, or that a lesbian just needs a ‘good dick’.
      Yes, I know this is romantic fiction blah blah blah, but I still think there should be a modicum of social responsibility in these books when dealing with such issues.
      /off soapbox

      • I don’t think I ever thought of that way. I think that skirts a very close line where fiction has a responsibility more than just to entertain. For example, I LOATHE the popular theme that bisexuals are always sluts and must engage in sex with both sexes and never in a monogamous relationship because they -need- what they’re missing. Drives me up a wall! But it’s fiction right?
        I wonder if Gay For You story lines do indeed feed yet another misconception, but in a dangerous way instead of just assuming all gay men have a stack of fluffy hand towels next to their bed.

    • Very much this
      Most GFY stories I’ve read play very fast and loose with sexuality and do imply that sexuality can change which is highly problematic in itself.
      I’m much more confortable with bisexuality as well.

  6. I love gay for you, though I have never truly written one.
    As to the why I love them so much? My favorite character put it perfectly when he was asked if he was gay and he said no, even though he’s been with the same man for almost a decade. He said “I don’t love men. I love Chris.” It wasn’t about sexual orientation or gender, it was about an overwhelming love for a person, regardless of physical attributes.
    That’s awesome to me.

  7. I enjoy GFY stories and I share the same view as others that it represents for me the power of love and love has no boundaries themes.
    One of the aspects I really like about these types of stories is that the author really needs to provide a depth to the characterisation/s so as to explore the potential internal and external conflicts of this kind of plot. This, of course, doesn’t always happen, but is something that I certainly need/prefer as a reader for the GFY theme to be convincing.
    Something else I particularly enjoy is the sexual tension that can be conveyed in GFY. This build up can be touching, clever, fun, etc in the hands of a good author and is, IMO anyway, a welcome contrast to PWP or a supposed romance that starts with the protags having sex from page 2.

    • I’m so glad you brought up sexual tension Kris. Lately I’ve been more satisfied with a great sexual tension then splooging early on. Not always as I like my PWP but if an author can write great sexual tension, I eagerly eat it up. It’s true that GFY allows for a lot of conflict and tension – I guess I didn’t realize how much innate material there is to work with just by the opposite sexual preference.

  8. I love yaoi gay for you stories just because they’re fun and I like to watch the straight character suffer. The explanations for why he feels this way for the other guys is always hysterical. I’m not sure how I’d feel about it in a m/m erotica story. Yaoi is just goofy and fun and not really meant to be taken seriously or believed whereas a m/m erotica story is generally meant to be “somewhat” believable.
    ~Jen LeBlanc

    • I think it depends on the m/m book. Some are pure fantasy fiction and others are meant to be more of a realistic reflection. It depends on the author and the reader. I can suspend a certain amount of disbelief but some things don’t translate well. It seems to be that the GFY storyline is one that some love love love and some dislike. Some don’t believe it and others want to.
      As for yaoi, well nothing beats a self lubricating ass. Get working on that πŸ˜€

      • I wish MY ass was self lubricating but yeah, I do love that aspect of yaoi. I read one yaoi novel where his self lubricating ass was discussed at length. XD It’s one of my fav yaoi novels ’cause it was just slutty and fun.

  9. Gay for you…not my fave trope, simply because I find it highly implausible.
    I have a hard time believing that the guys in those stories never ONCE felt a twinge of attraction for another guy. I’m not saying that he would have had to act on that attraction, but to be 100% into women, but for that one guy he’ll repeatedly take it up the ass forever more for?
    No.

    • Would it make a difference for you if the guy was a confirmed pitcher in the relationship? There are enough books where the supposedly straight guy just turns to doing the ass of a guy instead without ever taking it.

      • I’ve seen a lot of this, Kassa, and for some reason I don’t have the energy to explore right now, it’s started to bug me. Like…any friendly hole in a storm?
        I purposely tried turned this trope on its head with Rafe and Jamie in SEVEN YEAR ACHE and WILD HORSES (and the eventual third in the trilogy) by having Rafe, my catcher, be the confirmed bisexual (who’s always been in love with the Jamie, but has always played around, too) and Jamie be a 25 yr. old virgin who, when they finally get it on, always pitches.
        Come to think of it, my boys in WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT are somewhat the same. Tommy’s the slut who’s slept with every eligible partner of either gender in the greater Boston area, but bends over in the blink of eye for Leo, who is gay as the day is long and VERY toppy in an almost D/s kind of way. Interestingly enough, while Leo is in charge in bed, Tommy is in charge out of bed because he’s older, more experienced, and generally an alpha personality.
        Huh. I’ve never really thought about this in depth before. Maybe I just like to mix up the dynamics.

      • Sometimes I totally believe it when the guy says that chicks are too much work and the sex is great anyway – that kind of thinking I just really believe.

  10. I both like it and am wary of it. It depends on the tone of the story to me. I’ve read plenty of fanfics where the characters are shown as being only interested in each other, and definitely not gay – with the implication of “we’re sleeping together, but we’re not a couple of those filthy fags”. Ick. Of course, the characters themselves can say that, if it’s shown as part of their emotional journey, but when the narrative of the story implies that it’s icky and reeks of homophobia. So yeah, it’s less about what the characters say to themselves and other people – after all people can say what the hell they like, doesn’t make it true – it’s the message within the narrative that needs to get it right to avoid being implausible or even offensive.
    I prefer to read something where one or the other guy is exploring a side of himself that he’s repressed, for whatever reason, until this point in his life, and something has happened to bring it out now. In a romance of course, that’s meeting this other guy. So not so much “gay for you” as “I didn’t know or wouldn’t admit I was gay/bi until I met you”.
    I think I like that because it seems to better reflect the complicated and messy emotional lives of real people. Okay, nowadays in the right parts of world, in the right family, right community, someone can be openly gay from early on in their life and not have to repress or lie about anything. But not everyone lives under such ideal conditions, society has many pressures to conform and people do the best they can under that pressure. The “going gay” in mid-life isn’t unknown, for men who were never able to express their sexuality, until they hit the “mid life crisis” moment and realised they need to finally be true to themselves.
    As for a man who claims they’ve never had a gay thought in their head before this particular guy comes along – well, some people are very, very good at repressing their own feelings. πŸ˜€ But if that’s done in a book, the character needs to be shown to be highly repressed in other ways to match that repression of sexual thoughts. I’m not buying someone who’s madly uninhibited about everything else except that!

    • I think it’s really interesting you touch on a common idea most are saying – that it’s now safe and romantic to express feelings for another man. I like that idea and I’m all for it as I also think it’s rather realistic. I think it takes some real guts to look at yourself at a young age and admit who you are and not try to change it.
      I think I much prefer someone who’s repressed their feelings and only later accept the truth – such as the great book Shades of Gray!
      Anyway I wish I had more to say but really, all I can say is YES! to your comment. And YES! again πŸ˜€

      • Thanks. πŸ™‚
        It’s great that people can now express their real self without fear, if they’re lucky enough to be in the right place and time. But of course for fiction people who are happy and well-adjusted don’t always make the most interesting characters. πŸ˜€ Messed up people getting into trouble are just more fun to read about.

  11. I’m not a reader of romantic fiction, nor erotica for that matter, but I have an opinion so I’ll dive in.
    Leaving the whole romantic element aside, I think most women who enjoy slash aren’t particularly turned on by ultra-effeminate [i.e., stereotypically “gay seeming”) men. No different than a man who wants to watch two women get it on who is thinking more along the lines of Megan Fox and Catherine Zeta-Jones, than Rosie O’Donnell and Melissa Etheridge. So the idea of a straight [and/or straight seeming] guy having sex with another man fits right into the fantasy.
    Honestly, people can try to make it sound more noble than that, but I believe this simple concept is at the root of the phenomenon.

    • Hi there and thanks!
      I don’t think its necessarily complicated or noble, its just a theme ppl like. Even a kink maybe! I was just curious why people seem to like them. It seems it’s romantic and hot, which is a good enough reason for most : D.

      • I’m not meaning to get into any fisticuffs here, but all the gals who claim that it’s deeply romantic to read about a man who can love another man simply for who he is, despite the fact that he is not normally attracted to men and that love conquers all and blah-blah-blah…are ennobling something that I think is nothing more than a turn on to them.
        Funny how you don’t see men trying to turn watching a lesbian scene in a porn film into something romantic or virtuous or righteous. They just enjoy the shit cos it’s hot. They don’t fool themselves into thinking that jacking off to two women getting it on in any way supports gay rights or fluid, open-minded views on sexuality.
        I may be wrong, but I get the feeling that women, in general, aren’t as comfortable with their sexuality to accept that’s basically it’s just hot for them, too, and not much more.

        • Hey, feel free to bring the fight here (lol my LJ is too tiny to have real fights so no worries).
          I think your comments are very interesting. I’m not sure I would call it romantic to love someone despite the fact they are gay – which leads into Sparks comments above. What I think the women in this thread are saying is that the hurdle for some men and women is the label. Not the sexuality but some just are uncomfortable with the label. Perhaps I’m wrong but that’s how I read it. I didn’t think of it as ennobling the theme.
          LOL.. It’s true I don’t generally see men trying to make lesbian porn out to be something its not. But I also don’t think its a matter of women being uncomfortable with their sexuality. I think it’s simply romantic for some. End stop. True love, angels sing and so on. I don’t think romance is necessarily porn or vice versa. Most here would agree… two men getting it on is hot. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also be romantic especially since this theme is used widely in gay romance.

  12. Followiung a link in mm news
    This probably doesn’t apply to me because I am a gay man, but I don’t like the trope at all because it kinda smells homophobic
    They can’t have their character be GAY zomg nooooo. Or even bi. No no no… but they still want to have their gay sexing. So we have a straight character who has ONE exception only. But he’s straight. Totally. Not gay. Cannot have the gay in the m/m sex
    There’s also an idea that if they’re STRAIGHT then they fit more masculine role… it’s very problematic. The idea that in a gay relationship there should be a “masculine” guy and a “feminine” guy is extremely stereotypical and rather homophobic tbh. As well as the idea that the masculine guy has to be straight-but-gay-for-this-person-only
    I think a lot can be done with repressed homosexuality or acknowledgement of buried bisexuality and it can eb done well and sensitively. But most “gay for you” stories I’ve read make me cringe and usually I know by the end of the story I’m going to be offended

    • I wouldn’t get too het up about the whole thing.
      Look at it this way, women have had to put up with references to men’s enjoyment of “sapphic” action in the most mainstream of forums for years. Years. Years and years and years…I mean, virtually ALL modern comedy films and/or sitcoms that feature young (or young-ish) male characters have to mention this type of thing at one time or another. And, as I said above, the women they watch in porn films doing all this crap? Not lesbians. They’re straight. I suspect Lea Delaria doesn’t figure prominently in any of these fantasy scenarios.
      And that’s all this is, too. Women who want to fantasize about two “straight seeming” men get it on.

    • I think a lot of fiction also reflects common views of society. Not saying that it’s necessarily right but I do think it reflects, for good or bad, views, fears, kinks, and so on of people. Sometimes this is horribly bad and there are some great comments above (that you noted) that point this out so incredibly well.
      I think there are some authors who are clearly homophobic and this translates to their writing, whereas others just write a GFY because it sounds hot.
      While my initial question was “why do chicks like GFY themes” I love that you offered your opinion. You clearly have strong feelings, which I personally love to see and I’m not sure I’d have thought of it the same. I think your concerns are -very- evident in some books but perhaps not in others. The stereotypes are for sure obvious caricatures but while I roll my eyes at them, I guess I see them as purely fictional and harmless – from my bleacher perspective. Perhaps not always so for others.

  13. From a romance POV, it’s probably the same as any of the classic het tropes where the guy has to make some sort of radical change for the girl. The reformed rake is probably the classic in that area — a guy who’s been screwing someone new every day and twice on Sunday suddenly stops because he meets The Girl and suddenly only she can satisfy him. The idea is that he loves her Just That Much. A GFY story probably pings similar threads.
    From my own POV, I find true GFY stories kind of annoying. I mean, I don’t care how much I loved a woman, we’re just not having sex, sorry. When I’m reading a story which turns out to be GFY, I usually interpret it that the supposedly straight guy was actually bisexual with a strong het preference which he’d never acted on before, and maybe never even acknowledged in his own mind, but then he met this one guy who was perfect for him, forcing him to acknowledge a side of himself which was always there. That’s pretty much the only way I can make the story feel realistic.
    Angie

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