As a writer of contemporary, paranormal and historical romance novels in both het and gay genres, it sometimes surprises me when readers react as if the viewpoints of yesterday's times, settings and people should reflect the same attitudes of today's society especially with gay characters. Today, there are fewer obstacles to overcome before you announce to the one you love that you love them, but there are still hurdles.
But what also surprises me is that the very thing that makes a romance story a romance ~ a HEA or HFN ending ~ can be regarded with scorn. In works presented as romances, it's the journey to the "happily ever after" ending that makes up the story. Writers accommodate the possibility that readers will accept a "happy for now" ending, but still, at the end of the romance we want our protagonists to be happy. That's why we write ROMANCE and not some other genre; we may write in sub-genres (paranormals, historicals, mysterys, contemporaries or any other), but as long as they're coupled with that magic word "romance" there's at least one certain expectation. That's why readers read our stories. In mainstream fiction you can have a love story with an unhappy ending. A love story is not a romance.
So, I'd like to hear from the readers of the Blog and get their reactions to the following.
"I Have Dreamed" (Yep, that's a song title from Rodgers & Hammerstein's The King and I)
My question is two-fold:
Why should it be easy for characters to express their love and/or desire aloud to someone for whom they have intense feelings? If there are legitimate reasons not to reveal these feelings, why should one expect characters to just blurt out, "I love you" without any reflection or pause?
Although the above can refer to both heterosexual and gay characters, I'd like to confine this to gay characters specifically. What if one of the two characters not only didn't have the same feelings, but was so disgusted or horrified that he attacked the person revealing their feelings or reported him to the authorities? Would it be easy to just say something? Wouldn't it take time, and even a bit of courage to finally reveal your feelings?
So, what do you think? Have you ever had that problem in "real life"? If you're a writer, have you created situations where characters dare not speak its name? And as a reader of romance, do you expect a HEA or HFN ending?
To see some of the bends and twists that men had to make, check out some of my gay titles.