Romance novels need a canon
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
As a gay man — and as someone acquainted with the effects of real homophobia — reading the recent letters that accused Salon of “gay baiting” and “homophobia” for daring to delve into discredited White House “reporter” Jeff Gannon’s past, I was annoyed, to say the least.
How on God’s green earth is discussing the details of this outrageous situation “homophobia”? If Gannon is, indeed, linked to prostitution, then you have a man engaged in an illegal occupation — one that is highly open to blackmail and extortion — with few real reporting credentials to his name, being given an unusual amount of favoritism and access to the White House. Were Gannon a female or male heterosexual gigolo with the same limited reporting experience who was discovered to be a heterosexual prostitute, the issues would be precisely the same.
Are these readers seriously suggesting that the specific details of this case shouldn’t be discussed or investigated because of some misguided notion that a potential link between the White House and a person involved in a criminal enterprise is merely a “personal issue”? That attitude itself smacks of a queasiness in discussing homosexuality and sex. Excuse me, folks, but genuine tolerance doesn’t involve sweeping all mention of sexuality under the rug.
Heaven forbid that Salon might note the possibility that Gannon catered to men. Salon is “gay baiting”? Yeah, right. There’s about as much “homophobia” in Salon’s coverage of the Gannon case as there is in acknowledging that Mary Cheney is — “gasp!” — a lesbian.
– Don Cybelle
Reading the letters critical of Salon’s article on “Jeff Gannon” made me wonder, once again, what planet I’m living on.
The Republican Party in general and the Bush White House in particular have sold themselves to a substantial portion of the American public as the avatars of morality, indeed as God’s Own Party. And these letter writers believe that the fact that a man who was a fake reporter for a fake news agency (that was merely a front for the Texas GOP) turns out to have been, up until the moment he began his journalistic “career,” a gay male prostitute is irrelevant? How about the fact that he lied in public to several well-known news organizations about his involvement with the Web sites in question? Is that irrelevant? What about the columns he authored on his Web site, condemning gays for wanting to legalize their committed, monogamous relationships? I suppose that still makes the fact that he was a gay prostitute irrelevant.
Add the fact that the Republican Party has made it standard operating procedure to use lies and distortions about people’s personal lives in order to destroy their careers (Bill Clinton, John Kerry, even John McCain) and I say that Mr. “Gannon’s” previous career choices are incredibly relevant.
– Dan Majoros
Why is Gannon/Guckert’s “secret life” newsworthy? It isn’t. What is newsworthy is what it demonstrates about the proclaimed values of the current administration: that they’re a smoke screen.
The Bush administration rode to a second term on the coattails of anti-gay sentiment. Millions of religious conservatives who disagree with many of the Bush administration’s important domestic and foreign policy positions held their noses and voted for Bush anyway. They did so, at least in part, because they believe that homosexual behavior is immoral and they perceived Bush as the champion of the anti-homosexual (or, in a larger sense, the anti-sexual freedom) agenda for America that they feel God would have them pursue.
It’s important, therefore, to expose Gannon/Guckert’s past behavior in order to show that the neocons’ embrace of the immorality of homosexuality is, well, fake. I grew up in a Christian fundamentalist family in the South and I can assure you that no true holder of right-wing anti-homosexual attitudes would ever knowingly engage a gay man, much less a gay prostitute, as a spokesman. That the Bush administration used Gannon/Guckert in that capacity, and that they did so stealthily and with intent to deceive, proves that political expediency, not moral values, is the arbiter of this administration’s behavior.
In short, the Gannon/Guckert controversy proves that right-wingers in power have duped millions of their Christian followers into voting for them by falsely appearing to share their beliefs. And, while most Salon readers already have all the proof they need of that truth, it’s important that we prove it to the ones who have been deceived.
– Dave Creswell
I’m surprised at the readers who claim not to see whether it matters that “Jeff Gannon” is homosexual. It matters because he’s a propagandist for a political movement that seeks to limit gays’ quest for equality at every turn and will ultimately try to outlaw homosexuality entirely if it gets the chance. It matters in exactly the same way a black member of the KKK would matter, or a Jewish Nazi: because it exposes the hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance that is at the heart of the right wing.
– Daniel Dvorkin
Is Mr. Gannon’s sexual orientation a legitimate issue in this story? Yes, it certainly is — for two reasons. First, the Bush administration, Republicans and conservatives have relentlessly demonized homosexuals over gay marriage, civil unions, adoption rights, hate crime legislation, military issues, etc. They have been oddly silent over the news that a sleazy hustler has been “blowing kisses” to the administration.
Secondly, on his Web site, Mr. Gannon described himself as the model of the white conservative male. In fact he is a homosexual prostitute. He made his sexual orientation an issue by his own hypocrisy.
I’m tired of gays and their supporters rushing to the defense of any homosexual. Jeff Gannon did our community no favors. He thrived in a dark and seedy corner of gay life, and, at the same time, supported a discriminatory and hateful administration and ideology for his own gain.
Hopefully I speak for most gay people when I say, “Mr. Bush … you can have him!”
– Michael Smith
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
"Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie
Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower. Read the whole essay.
"A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant
A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex. Read the whole essay.
"Black Silk" by Judith Ivory
A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say. Read the whole essay.
"For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale
A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society. Read the whole essay.
"Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner
A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ... Read the whole essay.
"Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen
Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight. Read the whole essay.
"The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal
A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency. Read the whole essay.
"Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time. Read the whole essay.