I’m certain that this topic could be discussed in WAY greater detail. A whole dissertation’s worth, in fact. However, I don’t have that kind of time and I’m not getting a PhD afterwards. Feel free to continue the comments.
We watched Let it Snow on Netflix a couple weeks ago. (Super cute movie) In this movie, there is a lesbian relationship. I don’t think it’s spoilers to say that the girls kiss at some point during the movie. Our 3 year old daughter was very confused by this kiss. “Where’s the boy?” she kept asking. It took us a few tries to figure out what she was getting at. Apparently we’ve been watching too many Disney movies, because to her, relationships were a boy and a girl. I say were, because as soon as the movie was over, we corrected her. She didn’t believe us. So we pulled out a book that we haven’t read to her in a while (apparently). Promised Land. It’s a typical fairytale romance, with just the one slight change. The romantic leads are two men. She believed us after that, thankfully.
I’m not saying that Disney movies (or any other movie or book) is wrong to portray heterosexual relationships. Go for it.
But I’d like some diversity, please.
I’d like, for once, for a Christmas movie to have two men play the romantic leads. And I DON’T want the movie to be about them “finding themselves” or “coming out to the family” or any other trope.
I want the typical romantic movie. One goes home for Christmas to his family from the big city. Oh look, the guy he had a crush on is still super hot. Hijinks ensue. Due to Christmas magic, they end up together. You know, the Christmas movie we usually get on Hallmark channel.
And I know the perfect book to adapt. Faux Ho Ho, by ‘Nathan Burgoine, has ALL my favourite tropes. They were roommates, check. Fake relationship, check. There was only one bed, check.
So come on, Netflix, Disney+, or Amazon Prime! I know the book was only released yesterday, but why haven’t you made a movie yet??
I want my children to grow up with movies and books that include all types of relationships. Gay, lesbian, poly, ace, you name it, I want it. And please use the same tropes as for the het relationships.
This summer, I was lucky enough to take part in an all-writer Dungeons & Dragons campaign, alongside some amazing authors. Brandon Crilly was our DM, Marie Bilodeau was our fast-talking, shanty-singing aasimar bard, Evan May played a hysterical bugbear monk of few words (and even less grammar), Kevin Hearne played a grumpy human former-soldier turned ranger, and I rounded out the group with my perceptive—but really honest and trusting—half-elf cleric of the sea goddess. In the middle of a tense scene, where we were pretty sure we were up against a particularly bad foe who was skeptical of our arrival not being a hostile invasion (it was totally a hostile invasion, but we were hoping to convince him to leave without a fight), my wee half-elf tried an untrained deception check.
It went poorly. Or at least, he ended up
having to blast the villain with the wrath of his sea-goddess, so it didn’t go
as planned. But that’s D&D. You make a plan, the plan falls apart, you
throw lightning and thunder around. Repeat.
Over the same time period, I was also
working on a holiday-set, fake relationship trope romance novella, and our
D&D sessions turned out to help coalesce some facets I was struggling with
when it came to my protagonist, Silas. The set-up for Faux Ho Ho is
pretty simple: Silas’s family isn’t particularly supportive of him, but they’re
in the public eye as a political family, so they take pains to make things look
better than they are. He lives in Ottawa, they live in Alberta, allowing him to
keep his distance when he can, but at the start of the story, they’re trying to
wrangle him back home for Thanksgiving, partly so they can have him included in
an event for his eldest brother, a Member of Parliament, keeping the optics of
“we support our queer kid” if not the actions. Silas can’t think of a single thing
to get out of it, and then his roommate—who his parents don’t know
exists—pretends to be his boyfriend, claiming they have plans already with his
family for Thanksgiving. This sets into motion a series of further fibs that
send Silas and his roommate on a path to a happy-ever-after, albeit one with
quite a few hiccoughs on the way.
Now, Silas is an introverted sort, a coder
geek and a gaming nerd, and while this is by no means outside of my wheelhouse
(I mean, I don’t really code, but otherwise) I was struggling to find the right
way to present Silas to the reader. His voice, in early drafts, wasn’t landing
Then we had the D&D session with my half-elf’s
botched deception check and it struck me. While Silas is staring down his
parents on the Skype call, his “boyfriend” behind him, Silas has to lie
outright to them if he wants out of the Thanksgiving visit. I slipped into his
point of view and wrote:
Okay. He could do this. He’d never put
any points into deception in his entire life, but natural twenties happened,
And there he was. From that moment on,
Silas took shape in my head, and everything started to flow just-so. Before I
knew it, writing Silas’s dialog, his reactions, and his thoughts wasn’t just
easier, it was fun, and I realized it was the first time I’d written a D&D
playing adult as the protagonist of a romance, and I couldn’t for the life of
me figure out why I’d waited so long. I write queer characters in romance
specifically because I want to see people like me with happy endings, but I
hadn’t gone that extra step to add this particular flavor of nerdy gamer into
Dungeons & Dragons became one of the geeky
lenses through which Silas viewed the world, and it was a joy to put those
references in there. Luckily, my editor also has a history with the game, so I
didn’t have to explain too much (and, in fact, some of the editing notes that
came back included D&D references in return). Silas and his gaming group even
get to play a session in Faux Ho Ho. Silas also dresses up in a Dungeons
& Dragons cartoon cosplay outfit at one point (spoiler: he’s Presto).
In short, if it wasn’t for those gaming
sessions this summer, and my writer friends who always have my back, I’m not
even sure Faux Ho Ho would have made it out of the gate.
As for Silas’s ongoing deception checks to
maintain the illusion of him and his “boyfriend” at his sister’s Christmas
wedding, and how it all works out with his family and his roommate? Well, if
you want to know how that particular campaign turns out, the answer is in Faux
Ho Ho. But since Faux Ho Ho is a romance, it’s not a spoiler to say that
even though it absolutely doesn’t go to plan, it definitely ends happily.
Silas Waite doesn’t want his big-C Conservative Alberta family to know he’s barely making rent. They’d see it as yet another sign that he’s not living up to the Waite family potential and muscle in on his life. When Silas unexpectedly needs a new roommate, he ends up with the gregarious—and gorgeous—personal trainer Constantino “Dino” Papadimitriou.
Silas’s parents try to browbeat him into visiting for Thanksgiving, where they’ll put him on display as an example of how they’re so tolerant for Silas’s brother’s political campaign, but Dino pretends to be his boyfriend to get him out of it, citing a prior commitment. The ruse works—until they receive an invitation to Silas’s sister’s last-minute wedding.
Silas loves his sister, Dino wouldn’t mind a chalet Christmas, and together, they could turn a family obligation into something fun. But after nine months of being roommates, then friends, and now “boyfriends,” Silas finds being with Dino way too easy, and being the son that his parents barely tolerate too hard. Something has to give, but luckily, it’s the season for giving. And maybe what Silas has to give is worth the biggest risk of all.
You can pre-order Faux Ho Ho at the
Bold Strokes Books webstore in all e-formats; it will also be available
December 10th, 2019, wherever quality LGBT e-books are sold.
‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was “Heart” in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. This began his long love affair with short fiction, which has seen dozens more short stories published, including his first collection Of Echoes Born. Even though short fiction is his favorite, ‘Nathan stepped into novel writing, and his first novel, Light, was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Triad Blood and Triad Soul are available now from Bold Strokes Books, as well as his first YA novel, Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks. More novels, novellas, as well as works of short fiction are always under way.