What is Homoerotic Fiction?

By Dusk Peterson

Sections below:

* Definitions of Homoerotic Fiction
* Homoerotic Fiction at This Domain


The term "homoerotic" has two alternative meanings: "homosexual" or "erotic homosexual." The terms "homoerotic fiction" or "homoerotica" are used by some authors for a variety of reasons, some of which contradict each other.

1) The term is simply used as a synonym for gay.

"DC Comics has ordered a New York gallery to remove pictures which show Batman and Robin kissing and embracing. . . . The colour pictures, which depict the superheroes in a number of homoerotic poses, were put on display in the gallery in February."  —BBC News: "Gallery Told to Drop 'Gay' Batman."

2) The term is used because people in the stories would not use the word "gay" to describe themselves.

"Some of my characters would not necessarily self-identify as 'gay,' which is why I use the term homoerotic as opposed to gay or homosexual romance." —James Buchanan.

"There was much homoerotic poetry in both Arabic and Hebrew writing in Muslim Spain." —Paul Halsall.

3) The term distances the story from certain conventions in gay literature.

"Writing [homoerotica] is not the same as writing gay porn. Eroticism whether between two men, two women, or het is about the story behind them, it's not about the graphic portrayal of what they do in bed." —Homoerotica: A Beginner's Guide.

"Yeah – we know it's gay porn but we like to call it homoerotica because we like high horses." —Elitist Yaoi.

4) The term implies that the story is erotic.

"As far as I understand it, homoerotica, or gay erotica, or whatever kind of erotica you're talking about, has as its purpose causing sexual excitement in the viewer." —Douglas Simonson.

5) The term blurs the boundaries between erotic and non-erotic.

"What I was struck by as I read your collection was how it was both erotica and it wasn't." —Anne Foley, referring to Greg Wharton's Johnny Was, described by one reviewer as homoerotic.

"Vintage Homoerotica. An old Coke ad I scanned from a National Geographic from the thirties. There's definitely something a little gay going on here." —John Wilmot.


I'm not wedded to any particular terminology, but I often call my gay stories "homerotic fiction" for five reasons.

1) Many of my stories are set in historical settings or fantasy worlds whose people hold different views of sexual orientation than my own society does. Thus, the word "gay" would not be used in such settings.

2) I write both gay fiction and gay erotic fiction. The word "homoerotic" embraces both types of stories.

3) A lot of my gay stories fall in the no-man's-land between erotic and non-erotic. "Homoerotic" hints at that ambiguity.

4) Various fiction communities have different terms for stories about male same-sex attraction: gay, slash, and yaoi. Calling my tales homoerotic is my way of saying that I think readers from all of these communities would enjoy my stories.

5) It makes my site show up well in search results. That's reason enough.

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