Challenges of Being a Gay Male Storyteller and Illustrator

Because I’m a gay male storyteller and artist/illustrator, I have had to accepted many challenges lurking in the dark unknown ever since I began the process of writing long-form science fiction. What emerged after many difficult years in development is Baja Clavius, my novel-length storytelling about time travelers who are gay men.

I’m sharing this personal information to help shed light on how all this happened. Maybe there are other writers out there who can benefit from my lessons learned or find a certain inspiration.

Straight or Gay?

For one brief moment, I imagined I should write a science fiction novel for straight readers. My thinking was that readers who are gay—particularly gay men—are fewer in number compared to the population of straight readers of both genders. I believed at the time that if I tried to sell what I wrote for a gay male audience, I likely would generate very little attention or money.

But, I chose instead to write a science fiction tailored for readers who like science fiction who happen to be gay males. And yes, I’m aware that some straight female readers enjoy reading fiction that focuses upon man-on-man relationships and sexual activities. Bisexual males may also enjoy reading such content. I just switched my thinking from the genders or sexual orientations of my target audience to focusing instead on telling appealing illustrated stories.

Outside the Envelope

Science fiction has always been a genre in which characters, behaviors, and ideas are tolerated—if not celebrated—even when they happened to be outside the envelope of conventional storytelling. But, early on, I discovered that anti-gay prejudice is alive and well in the community of science fiction writers of the present day as represented by one prejudiced blooger.

The blogger’s online presence suggested that he has an established track record as a writer in science fiction, horror, and comic books. But, he refused to mention my work on his blog—even though I was willing to pay him to do so. He told me that he had concluded his blog readers would not find my gay science fiction acceptable.

Pushing the Boundaries

So, I amplified and expanded upon the man-on-man sexual behaviors of my characters and the violence. I decided to push the boundaries in my storytelling and never stop to consider whether anyone might find it unacceptable. That choice made me feel experience great freedom as a writer and illustrator.

I had interviewed Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry in Los Angeles decades ago. It was a time before there were any Star Trek motion pictures. He admitted to me that he had deliberately toned down the futuristic speculations about moral codes and human sexual behavior for the original Star Trek. He made certain that Captain Kirk and other characters behaved in ways morally and sexually that would be recognizable and accepted by network television viewers during the 1960s.

I chose to do the exact opposite. I created situations in which gay men a few hundred years from now behave in ways that we today would consider to be sexually immoral and against various laws. In doing so, I set myself free as a writer and illustrator.

I certainly planned and outlined what I intended to write or depiction in illustrations, and fleshed out character traits, speaking patterns, behaviors, appearance, and so on. Yet, my creative process mainly involved sitting down at a computer and capturing digitally what I “saw” in my mind about the near future. Inspiration for plot development, dialogue, and other crucial creative matters “came to me” as it were from an unconscious or unidentifiable source. I did not struggle to find anything to write about using this process. I never experienced writer’s block. I eventually concluded that this process was (for me) the only way I could produce creative works.

Real Life versus Fiction

The controversial nature of my work has been noticed, of course, by fans of my illustrations. But, what I create is make-believe. I do not advocate for exploitation or violence in sexual behaviors of gay men. I write about those concepts and I also create explicit illustrations of what those sexual behaviors may look like.

I produced my science fiction time travel adventure novel using the kind of format that reveals very early on to readers whether my controversial science fiction storytelling is something they will find appealing. The illustrations that accompany my science fiction storytelling for my novel are neither subtle or obscure. The illustrations are a clear example of how I let my audience know what they can expect from me. I promise a very wild ride to all who venture out into the stunning near-future world that I envisioned for my storytelling and illustrations.

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