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STAGE ONE: HEAR by B.K.Bilicki
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ADDICTIVE DESIRES by Big Ed Magusson
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THE WATCHERS by Larry Archer
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OPERATION: CUCKOLD by Delores Swallows
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INITIATED ON VIDEO by F.J. Smith

INITIATED ON VIDEO by F.J. Smith
Gay fraternity BDSM erotica

The Free Lunch in the Secret Cave

by | Apr 26, 2017 | General | 3 comments

by Jean Roberta

Queers Were Here: Heroes and Icons of Queer Canada, edited by Robin Ganev and R.J. Gilmour (Windsor, Ontario: Biblioasis, 2016)

This book is a charming little anthology in which a group of “queer” Canadians answers the question: Who were your role models when you were “coming out?” One of the editors teaches history in the same university where I teach English, and I attended the local book launch.

In the introduction, the editors explain: “Our guiding purpose was the conviction that queer pioneers who challenged the dominant culture and fought for greater tolerance needed to be remembered and celebrated.” It seems that the 1980s were a crucial decade for most of the contributors, as they were for me. (I “came out” then too). Most of the contributors seemed to have been drawn to the “gay scene” in Toronto when they were young, and I recognized their references, even though Toronto seemed as far away from my prairie town as San Francisco or New York City.

The contributors are both male and female, and none of them emphasize the differences between gay-male and lesbian culture, but the differences are clear. Much of the urban “gay culture” described by the men seems exclusive to them.

This book fits into a pattern of recent histories of LGBTQ life in Canada since 1969.  All of them discuss the long-term influence of the Omnibus Bill that was passed that year (under a previous hip, sexy Prime Minister, father of the current one), a sweeping piece of legislation which decriminalized sex between men throughout Canada, among other reforms. And of course, no book on “gay” life could avoid mentioning The Plague: the trickle of AIDS deaths in the early 1980s that soon became a flood.

Both these events left lesbians fairly untouched, except as concerned bystanders. In that sense, these events were parallel to the U.S. government’s drafting of young men into a war of imperialism in the 1960s, which supposedly inspired the rebellions of the Baby Boom generation and motivated American families like mine to move to Canada. I was a teenager at the time, but I didn’t need to “dodge” the long, uniformed arm of Uncle Sam. I was a girl.

Here in Canada, the Omnibus Bill has been described as another thing that helped to define a generation. Like the Stonewall Riots in New York City in the same year, the bill paved the way for “gay rights” by modifying (not completely ending) the legal persecution of male-male sex in Canada. This change was groundbreaking, but it had no direct effect on women.

Female-female sex has never been mentioned in the Canadian Criminal Code, which had its roots in Victorian England. There is an anecdote that Queen Victoria refused to sign a bill which would have criminalized sex between any two or more people of the same gender on grounds that “ladies wouldn’t do that,” but I have my doubts. I suspect that the gentlemen who wrote that legislation simply thought that whatever sexual games women could play with each other were unimportant (even if unladylike), and should therefore remain unnamed, even as a crime. At that time, few women had the rights of adult citizenship, so the law-makers probably assumed that improper behavior among girls or women could be privately dealt with by fathers or husbands.

Regarding the Plague, various writers and lecturers in queer venues in the 1980s tried to frame AIDS as a threat to everyone on the margins of society. An earnest lesbian acquaintance once tried to convince me (during a long car ride) that we should all start using dental dams and gloves in bed with each other because transmission of the virus from one female body to another had not been disproved.  While I admired her good intentions, I felt as though she were advising me on how to protect myself and my dates from hurricanes and earthquakes, none of which happen on the Canadian prairies.

The Plague reached my town several years after I first read about its effects in larger cities, and I was sincerely upset when it destroyed the lives of men I liked and respected. I was disturbed when I read about the effects of AIDS on heterosexual women (or those who couldn’t avoid unprotected sex with men) in African countries. In the 1990s, I joined a drama group, directed by my sweetie, that went into schools to perform educational skits about HIV prevention. I wished there was more I could do.

Nonetheless, the Plague didn’t seem any more universal in the world than a hurricane slamming into a Caribbean coast. Where were all the HIV-positive womyn-loving womyn? Where was the evidence that AIDS-related deaths were cutting a swathe through the Amazon Nation?

I came to realize that lesbian sex (not to be confused with lesbian life) is the free lunch that we have all been told does not exist. Women don’t get each other pregnant, except when this is mutually desired, and one woman wields a turkey baster. Even then, the sperm has to come from someone else. Women are less likely to spread sexually-transmitted infections to other women than any other sexually-defined population. Although lesbians, even in Canada, have faced discrimination based on gender identity and general nonconformity, sexual activity between women here has largely occurred below the radar of police intervention.

The relatively conflict-free nature of lesbian sex becomes clear to me when I am deciding what kind of sex to describe in a story. Conflict in some form seems necessary to move the plot along, and in some scenarios, it’s easy to find. Sex between men and women can result in unwanted pregnancies, as well as disease. Women have reasons to fear violence from men. Men have reasons to fear manipulation from women.

Sex between men seems much less stigmatized now than it used to be, but HIV is still around. Plus there is still a feral, homophobic, straight-white-male subculture which seems especially dangerous now that it is less socially accepted than before. I don’t want any of my gay-male friends to seem too obvious among strangers.

Conflict between women in an erotic story usually has to come from something other than their sexual orientation. A story about the seduction of an innocent maiden by an experienced dyke is likely to seem unbelievable if set in the current era. How many young women, fresh out of high school in the 21st century, are unaware that sex between women is possible?  How many are inclined to faint when they figure it out? (Fainting from pleasure seems like a different thing.)

I sometimes wonder why more erotic writers, of various genders and sexual inclinations, haven’t focused more on lesbian sex as a set of activities with a high ratio of immediate pleasure to negative consequences. Maybe it’s because lesbians are still often seen (if at all) as a subset of some larger demographic.

About the Author Jean Roberta

Jean Roberta

Jean Roberta once promised her parents not to use their unusual family name for her queer and erotic writing, and thus was born her thin-disguise pen name. She teaches English and Creative Writing in a university on the Canadian prairies, where the vastness of land and sky encourage daydreaming.

Jean immigrated to Canada from the United States as a teenager with her family. In her last year of high school, she won a major award in a national student writing contest. In 1988, a one-woman publisher in Montreal published a book of Jean’s lesbian stories, Secrets of the Invisible World. When the publisher went out of business, the book went out of print.

In the same year, Jean attended the Third International Feminist Book Fair in Montreal, where she read a call-for-submissions for erotic lesbian stories. She wrote three, sent them off, and got a letter saying that all three were accepted. Then the publisher went out of business.

In 1998, Jean and her partner acquired their first computer. Jean looked for writers’ groups and found the Erotic Readers & Writers Association, which was then two years old! She began writing erotica in every flavor she could think of (f/f, m/f, m/m, f/f/m, etc) and in various genres (realistic contemporary, fantasy, historical). Her stories have appeared in anthology series such as Best Lesbian Erotica (2000, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, Volume 1 in new series, 2016), Best Lesbian Romance (2014), and Best Women’s Erotica (2000, 2003, 2005, 2006) from Cleis Press, as well as many others.

Her single-author books include Obsession (Renaissance, Sizzler Editions), an erotic story collection, The Princess and the Outlaw: Tales of the Torrid Past (Lethe Press), and The Flight of the Black Swan: A Bawdy Novella (Lethe, also in audio).

Fantasy stories by Jean include “Lunacy” in Journey to the Center of Desire (erotic stories based on the work of Jules Verne), forthcoming from Circlet Press 2017, “Green Spectacles and Rosy Cheeks” (steampunk erotica) in Valves & Vixens 3 (House of Erotica, UK, 2016), and “Under the Sign of the Dragon” (story about the conception of King Arthur) in Nights of the Round Table: Arthurian Erotica (Circlet 2015). This story is now available from eXcessica (http://excessica.com). Her horror story, “Roots,” first published in Monsters from Torquere Press, is now in the Treasure Gallery of the Erotic Readers and Writers Association. With Lethe Press publisher Steve Berman, she coedited Heiresses of Russ 2015 (Lethe), an annual anthology of the year’s best lesbian speculative fiction.

Jean has written many reviews and blog posts. Her former columns include “Sex Is All Metaphors” (based on a line in a poem by Dylan Thomas) for the Erotic Readers and Writers Association, July 2008-November 2010. The 25 column pieces can still be found in the on-site archives and in an e-book from Coming Together, www.eroticanthology.com She currently posts on the ten-writer site “Oh Get a Grip,” and once a month on the Erotic Readers and Writers Association blog.

Jean married her long-term partner, Mirtha Rivera, on October 30, 2010.

Links:

www.JeanRoberta.com
http://eroticaforall.co.uk/category/author-profiles

3 Comments

  1. Donna George Storey

    Definitely back in the 80s and 90s, HIV was presented as a danger inherent in all “marginal” sexuality (that is, anything other than monogamous marital heterosexual sex which is pretty much no one over a lifetime). And if it had been true, there’d be many more cases! Well, it’s almost as if the authorities have to lie to us for their own purposes.

    Lesbian sex is still mainly presented as a spectacle for men in mass culture. Or there’s a lot of strap-on play and butch-femme role play, even in Best Lesbian Erotica (which for me, theoretically anyway, would be beside the point, I’d want to escape traditional gender roles). There’s definitely a lot of space for honest exploration and a fresh presentation! However, couldn’t there possibly be conflict in the emotional relationship of two different, complex women coming together with their various pasts, issues, desires? Conflict can be subtle and exquisite?

    Reply
    • Jean Roberta

      There can definitely be conflict in a sexual relationship between women, both in real life and in fiction! However, consider the differences between current lesbian fiction (whether sexually-explicit or not) and the lurid paperbacks of the 1950s/60s about lesbians as a doomed population, addicted to their unhealthy desires. In “lesbian” narratives of the past, there is a huge amount of conflict between the characters and society at large. Someone usually dies violently, by murder, suicide, or in a car accident. (Some publishers made the unhappy ending of every same-sex affair a matter of policy.) That’s the kind of ready-made conflict that doesn’t seem to exist much any more, although I’m sure a young lesbian in a conservative family in a small town could still feel doomed.

      Reply
  2. You make really interesting points, Jean. In the eyes of the world, lesbian sex has no negative consequences.

    On the other hand, I’m now reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, and marveling at how well she portrays the fear and reluctance of her two protagonists. Not just fear of exposure or being ostracized, but I think fear of themselves, of the power of their attraction.

    Reply

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STAGE ONE: HEAR by B.K.Bilicki

STAGE ONE: HEAR by B.K.Bilicki
Paranormal fantasy erotic romance

ADDICTIVE DESIRES by Big Ed Magusson

ADDICTIVE DESIRES by Big Ed Magusson
Literary erotica

THE WATCHERS by Larry Archer

THE WATCHERS by Larry Archer
Cuckold Hotwife Voyeurism Sex Party

OPERATION: CUCKOLD by Delores Swallows

OPERATION: CUCKOLD by Delores Swallows
Cuckold / Hotwife Erotica

INITIATED ON VIDEO by F.J. Smith

INITIATED ON VIDEO by F.J. Smith
Gay fraternity BDSM erotica

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