Guest Blogger

How Does a Straight Author Write Gay Sex Scenes?

Filed By Guest Blogger | September 02, 2012 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: David Blixt, gay relationships, gay sex, Kit Marlowe, William Shakespeare, writing a book

Editors' Note: The author of five novels, including The Master Of Verona and Her Majesty's Will, guest blogger David Blixt is also an actor and a playwright. He lives in Chicago.

her-majestys-will-blixt.jpgI've been getting some lovely praise for my new novel, Her Majesty's Will. Inspired by the Road Movies with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, I wrote it as a tongue-in-cheek buddy/spy story starring Will Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe, answering the question of Shakespeare's early "lost years" by saying he and Marlowe were spies in the service of Queen Elizabeth (Marlowe really was!). Mostly by accident, the hapless pair end up uncovering the Babington Plot, an assassination attempt on Elizabeth by the agents of Mary, Queen of Scots, and end up with the whole world against them as they try to foil one queen's plan to destroy another.

I was trying to create a romp, a ridiculously fun combination of espionage hi-jinks and Shakespearean tropes (cross-dressing, secret identities, drunkards, clowns, etc.). And the novel has been received as I would have hoped - with mirth, with laughter, and with joy. Yes, a couple reviews declaimed loudly against the "crude" nature of the relationship between Will and Kit, but I kinda expected that. I brush it off, knowing history is on my side. Marlowe's "infamy" is well established, and there's plenty of reason to think that, if not gay, Will Shakespeare's sexuality spanned a wide vista of possibilities.

But one question has surprised me. I mean, really surprised me. It goes like this: "David, you're straight. What was it like writing a gay love scene?"

Are you kidding me?

First and foremost, love is love. Writing about the excitement of a kiss, of a caress, is the same across the board. Thinking about a first meeting of lips, or even a touch of a hand, is an electric, heart-hammering human experience. The best part is acknowledging what fools we are for love, how desperately grateful and fearful we are when it's dangled before us.

Secondly, let us all agree that there are far more factors in human attraction than mere gender. One of them is talent. Talent is sexy. Talent is a force of attraction. And in a time when words were prized, when publishing was new, when reading was exciting, when instead of saying "Let's go see a play" people said, "Let's go hear a play," there were few talents bigger than Marlowe and Shakespeare. A pair of brilliant young men, thrown into each other's company and on the run for their lives - from the Catholics, the government, the dregs of London, and a bear - the attraction was as natural as anything I've ever written.

In fact, the love scene between two teenagers in my novel Fortune's Fool was infinitely harder to craft. In that story, the couple are so young and stupid, so timorous and full of the weight of their actions, it was a hurdle to write. Whereas Will and Kit came together quite naturally, kissing spontaneously after a wild and breathless chase.

No, Will Shakespeare might not have been gay. But he certainly wasn't straight. With all the cross-dressing, the veiled pining, the inside jokes, he showed that human experience trumps gender. He played with attraction, loss, pining, devotion, and the dark side of desire across the board. Most of all, he understood that love transcends sex. It's universal.

Hell, how could he not see it plain as day, when his Juliet was played by a young man in drag? Yes, Shakespeare wrote the greatest love lines between a man and a woman, and he wrote them to be spoken by two men. I wonder if anyone asked him if it was hard writing a love scene between a straight couple? If so, I like to think he laughed in their faces.

Just like I do.


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