Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Straight Woman Loves Gay Romance

I was surprised and delighted to find Best Gay Romance 2009, ed. Richard Labonté, Cleis Press , an absolute pleasure to read, and more stimulating to me – a straight woman – than most heterosexual erotica.

Partly it’s the romance aspect – the stories and characters are gentle, sweet, and very sexy – and because the whole book is men, men, men. Each story has at least two sexy, loving men who get aroused and naked together, which for me was delicious, fantasy voyeurism.

Each story even offers an interesting plot -- not just a rush to the genitals -- and non-stereotypical characters. Several are even our age, though most are young. The stories are tender and erotic without being the least bit raw, rough, or sleazy. I lapped it up (so to speak).

As my readers know, I lost my beloved husband last summer. I’ve been sexually hibernating since then (while continuing to think and write about sex, as you know). Believe it or not, Best Gay Romance got my sparks sparking again, at least within the cocoon of fantasy.

I wrote to Richard Labonté, editor of the series, about this, and he wrote back:

I’m so happy to hear that the collection helped get your "juices flowing." I’m not surprised, though - in my A Different Light days (I helped open this still-extant gay bookstore in Los Angeles in 1979), I sold a lot of gay male romances, especially early Alyson titles (way before the Best Gay Romance days) to straight women. I particularly recall a group of six or so women, age range early 30s to late 40s I’m guessing, who would come into the original ADL store in Los Angeles in the '80s every two months or so and buy everything new since their last visit, often four or five books each, not always the same titles (I’m sure they also shared). Like you, they appreciated the erotic (but not too erotic) male content.

Read more of my sex and/or aging book reviews and author interviews here.


  1. This post raises an interesting question to me--
    The media portrays men as being intrigued by the sight of two women together, but the opposite idea, that women might be aroused by two men together, is absolutely not floated around in our popular culture. Why is this? Are women not seen as sexually adventurous? Or is the media (as a male-dominated enterprise) not comfortable with men being objectified that way (if so, how ironic)? Or is it simply that fewer women are attracted to the idea of two men together? I personally don't have much interest in it, but that's me, and I have not read this book you describe.

  2. Thanks, Christina, for the provocative question! I don't know -- am I the rare straight woman who is aroused by two men together? Or are there others out there who feel this way but haven't voiced it?

    I have two gay male friends (they're not together) who are two of my closest friends and confidants. They have each lost beloved partners, and they held me and listened to me when I lost Robert and shared how they dealt with their losses.

    I don't know whether my erotic comfort with two men together is because I'm close to these men and know how loving they are, and I feel completely comfortable with male sexuality, whether directed at women or other men.

    Or maybe these feelings are totally separate from any reality-based experiences -- fantasies often (usually?) are.

    I hope more of you will weigh in on this.

    Straight guys -- are you uncomfortable with this discussion, or do you shrug and say, "Hey, I'm attracted to the idea of two women together, why shouldn't women be attracted to two men together?"

  3. Carlos, 28June 12, 2013

    I have read on several websites that studies show that straight women can respond to sexual stimuli of any kind with arousal. This includes homosexual and heterosexual couplings (one even read animals). I guess the sex act or idea of a sex act alone can turn a straight woman on. Look it up yourself if you do not believe me. I have yet to find any information on lesbian women, though.

    As far as men go, both homosexual and heterosexual men preferred the pornography/erotica of their orientation.

    The last question, in my opinion, I can shrug and say "whatever floats your boat" but my own personal preference is compatible with the studies. I am attracted to women, so two attractive women together can be arousing.

    Perhaps delving into my own personal psyche too much, I just think too much in power dynamics. The penis is powerful and one must invite it in one's orifice for sexual gratification which can be thought of as intrusive. Men can be gratified more easily than women. To me, lesbian sex just always seemed more egalitarian and something about that just makes me feel more comfortable with it than two men where one has to submit. Not to mention, as far as pornography and erotica go, that it is about fantasy and wish fulfillment just as any other form of entertainment. Putting myself in the shoes of the characters, I would certainly rather be a lesbian with another lesbian than either the dominant or submissive man. Straight women are probably used to either role (or want to be) as men are designed to penetrate them. Straight men more than likely do not want to be penetrated.

    I believe it is also societal. Only recently have men been able to express themselves more freely. Women were allowed to be more emotional and could release their feelings to friends much more easily than men could creating a closer bond with female friends and wishing men were more like the men in the novels who are able to open up to a male lover.

    Finally, biologically, and this one I have the least data backing me up (in other words, a VERY broad assumption), women were in a woman's womb for nine months and then sucking on a breast for a while afterward. That has got to put some imprinting there to other women somehow.

    This has always intrigued me and thanks for bringing it up. Agree or disagree? Well, those are my thoughts anyway.

  4. Thank you, Carlos, for adding to our discussion with several provocative points.

    Re: "Straight men more than likely do not want to be penetrated." I do have to point out that many straight men enjoy pegging -- anal penetration with a dildo. That doesn't make them any less heterosexual -- that region of our bodies has pretty intense nerve endings, and of course the prostate is a source of male sexual pleasure.

    Re: imprinting: If being in a woman's womb and sucking on a breast imprints sexually for women, wouldn't it do the same for men? Yet gay men who experienced womb and breast don't go there with their sexual activities or fantasies.

    I'm not in any way trying to argue, just to advance the discussion with other points of view. I appreciate your thoughtful comments very much, and I enjoyed pondering your points.


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