Musings on the concepts of romance in gay fiction
After watching my most recent gay Anime binge, Heaven Official's Blessing, and starting on the books in the same series, I've begun to get a bit more philosophical about gay romance, when confronted with such a slow burn gay romance that allows me to deconstruct what gay romance is.
For context, China has strict censorship laws against freedom of expression, including any overt depictions of homosexuality. Yet, subtle hints and romantic gestures of homosexuality can pass censors as long as you don't push the hot button. It's a very weird concept summed up with the principle of "No approval, No disapproval, No promotion", essentially China wants to sideline debates and freeze social frameworks to prevent LGBT rights or culture war formation as it did in the West. In spite of that, gay romance in fiction is still around and still striving to continue existing.
My forays into various stories and books revolving around gay relationships from mundane high school boyfriends to intergalactic soap opera power couples has given me some food for thought, I've also compared notes with how writers on GA have written gay romance, including myself, and have a few interesting observations.
1. What writers describe in our romance stories, including my own, isn't really love, but rather its attraction and the building blocks of love. Before you can have a relationship, you first must have attraction. Then, you build on that attraction through interaction or conflict. Finally, in the end, you have a relationship, but even then, it is not love. (Sorry to burst so many people's hopeful Happily Ever After bubble, but the ending of stories when two guys end up together is just cementing the relationship)
2. Further, once the characters are in the relationship and face struggles that enhance the relationship, it is still not love yet. It is an important building block of love though under the principle of endurance. Romantic couples that can endure and triumph against all odds are some of the best characters in fiction because they are proving themselves to each other.
3. Undercutting everything though and the building blocks of love is the blueprint for love to exist, something far more intangible than attraction and far more powerful than endurance during times of strife. It is the concept of devotion. Love is almost like a religion in some ways with its various interpretations and applications, so the same truth that exists in religious followers' beliefs can exist in partners. Without devotion, there can be no love between characters, because it is the devotion that allows you to endure after attraction fades and conflicts cease.
4. Devotion is a powerful concept, something many want to channel for their own needs and purposes. From the corporate leader trying to sell you into his culture to the politician trying to persuade you into his ideology, everyone wants you to be devoted to them. The most extreme exist within faiths and authoritarian regimes, that seek to hold your sole devotion, so you may only love what they love. As Orwell pointed out in his novel 1984,
" But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."
Replace "Big Brother" with "Church", "Motherland", or "(Insert leader name)", then you get the same absolute devotion and love.
5. I think another reason why gay romance is so hated and feared isn't just due to the arguments about legality or tradition, but rather the fact that it takes the individual away from those who want their devotion. Those who can think for themselves, who have something to live for beyond wealth, ideology, or values, we do not play by the rules. Those who can love fully and deeply with full devotion to the concept alone are as powerful as any faith or regime.
This is just my musings, maybe I am just drunk off gay romance overload.
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