Guest Post: “It’s Not About Sex, It’s About Love” by T. Frohock
Sex and sexuality are subjects that we often see touched on in genre fiction, but rarely are they truly explored because it seems like both authors and readers are afraid of them. Oh we’ll get romance thrown in there more often than we need to to ensure that readers are “shipping” accordingly. But sex? Oh dear. *blush* Yet these two things, romance and sex, are very different and should not be so easily confused.
It’s not about sex, it’s about love. I think I said something similar to this somewhere else a long time ago, but it’s also something I don’t think you can say enough. Sex and love are not interchangeable.
Sex is simply the physical act of copulation. And sex can be fun. A lot of fun. A WHOLE lot of fun. And don’t get me wrong, I love reading the smexy goodness in a lot of novels. So sex and the smexy is okay-fine.
Problems arise, however, when we confuse sex with love. Sometimes sex can communicate love, but sex can also communicate hate, or domination, or lust, which is not the same as love. However, to say that we express our sexuality only through sex is to shortchange ourselves, and as an author, I’ll say it makes for shallow characterization, which is why I always like to dig a little deeper and look at a character’s sexuality.
Sexuality, you see, is about how we feel about ourselves: our gender, our sexual orientation, our bodies, our desires, our emotional lives. Sexuality is the sum of all of those parts while sex is merely one component of an individual’s sexuality.
Diago Alvarez is my protagonist in my new Los Nefilim series. When I first wrote Diago’s character, I knew he was gay. It was never a question for me. Not knowing what it was like to be a gay man in any context, I talked to people. Part of that research involved a discussion group where several people mentioned they wanted to see LGBT characters who were more multi-dimensional. It was pointed out to me by several individuals that most LGBT characters were portrayed as being always on the hunt for sex with very little about actual relationships.
Their discussion made me think more deeply about how I wanted to depict both Diago and his partner, Miquel. This is the author’s job: to think more deeply about our characters and how we portray them so that the reader may, or may not for that matter, think a little more deeply about the world around them.
So when I wrote Diago’s character, I wanted to focus on his sexuality instead of sex. Here are a few things about Diago (and Miquel), which might not be readily apparent in In Midnight’s Silence, but will surface as the series progresses.
Diago is a musician, who often expresses himself through his instruments. They’re like an extension of himself and his various moods. Music is his god, and he uses it to communicate love and grief and longing, but rarely hate or fury. He is a man who spent his early years furious enough to burn the world until Miquel showed him how to love again. Fiercely protective of Miquel, he doesn’t forget favors, nor does he forgive slights. He is a killer that has never hesitated to take down an enemy.
Depression and dark moods hound him, but Miquel brings levity or most often, simply a sympathetic ear to Diago’s rescue every time. The two men are emotionally compatible because their personalities complement one another. When Miquel’s mouth gets him in trouble, Diago’s shrewd manipulation rescues him. They’ve learned to rely on one another’s strengths and mitigate each other’s weaknesses. Like any relationship, theirs requires patience and understanding with one another, which they can sometimes communicate with a touch, a look, or smile.
And yes, they have sex, but don’t confuse sex with sexuality. Sex is easy. I can write an erotic sex scene in an hour. Love, of self or others, takes more effort, but in the end, the characterization is more complete and real, and that is what I am shooting for as an author. I want you to care about my characters, and you won’t do that if they’re simply caricatures.
T. Frohock has turned a love of dark fantasy and horror into tales of deliciously creepy fiction. Her other publications include everything from novelettes to short stories. She is also the author of the novel, Miserere: An Autumn Tale. Her newest series, Los Nefilim, is coming from Harper Voyager Impulse and debuts in June 2015 with the novella, In Midnight’s Silence, to be reviewed here at BiblioSanctum soon!