Beyond the Label: Open Orientation in Gay Romance

The Amazon Iowan

I had the pleasure this week of reading an advance reader copy of Beyond the Sea, a contemporary romance by Keira Andrews. It’s the story of two young men who crash on a remote Pacific island, help each other survive against the odds, and along the way fall in love. It also happens to be a novel where both protagonists are straight. Or at least, they identify themselves as such at the start of the story.

This trope—straight men falling for each other—goes by many names, has many subtle incarnations and flavors, and it’s far older than the last fifteen years of what is the modern gay romance market. From pulp novels to porn to sweet romances, straight men who “turn” gay is a popular fantasy for pretty much everyone, including (yes, really) straight men. Some people focus on the word turn, the fantasy being more about subjugating…

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