There was mention recently in a board formed around (time- and member-wise) the implosion of the old Suzanne Brockmann message board, of the upcoming release of the next Troubleshooters novel (Breaking the Rules, Izzy Zanella’s story—March 22nd 2011, Ballantine).
As many of her readers know, Ms Brockmann’s son came out relatively young, and his mother has devoted considerable effort, time and money to promote tolerance, acceptance and education. Ms Brockmann is not only a card-carrying PFLAG mom, but also has donated all her earnings (from advances on) from one of her novels to MassEquality.
As it turns out, there is a relatively major secondary character in Breaking the Rules who is gay—the brother of one of the four protagonists. One of the posters, Leigh, asked, Is there any book that she has written since Jules that doesn’t have a gay character? She has a passion, and I can admire that. I just don’t want to read about it all the time. I wonder why she hasn’t written about lesbians? or has she?
Which got me thinking (much to the dismay of many a reader, I’m sure )
Suzanne Brockmann has built her career around special forces-type characters. Even in our enlightened times, such types are overwhelmingly male. For example, I would think that it would be rather difficult to find lesbians among the SEALs since no women can even apply to the teams at this time. From my rather uninformed perspective, it would seem that while there are more than quite a few women Marines, etc. not many of them are recruited to highly specialized special forces units (please feel free to edumacate me in the comments, those of you who know better).
That alone would make it logical that there are more probabilities of finding male rather than female gay characters in Ms Brockmann’s novels.
But that’s not all, as I’m still thinking (you may step back, or stop reading altogether now )
As some of you know, I’ve been working at a food chain (not Mickey D but not quite Olive Garden either) for the last thirteen months and counting. During this time the employee turnover has been—to me at least—astoundingly high. In a store with 45 or so positions, close to 60 people have come and gone during my relatively short tenure. This in turns means that I’ve interacted, in a rather informal work environment, with over a hundred people for the past year (not counting costumers, obviously). Of this number, I calculate that about two thirds were female—say, 60 women and 40 men.
Based first on observation and later on conversation, I can confidently say that at least 4 of those men are gay.
I would not venture a guess on the matter about even one of the women.
This doesn’t mean there haven’t been gay women who have applied for, worked for, etc. the store—it just means I haven’t spotted them. Which probably says a lot about my pathetic observational skills, but could also just mean that gay men are easier to spot than gay women, due to societal expectations.
We are wired to notice what deviates from the norm. What I mean by this is that if two men who are well dressed and groomed go out to lunch and one of them pays the other’s meal while they joke around, we look a tad closer and often are able to determine whether it’s flirting or teasing. When two women do the exact same thing, no one even notices. When female coworkers hug each other, call each other sweetie, darling, sweetheart, etc. no one bats an eyelash—no one wonders about their sexuality.
Furthermore, it seems to me that society is harsher on overtly gay men than on less-than-feminine (butch?) women. There is more of a stigma to being a delicate, sensitive boy than to being a tomboy, after all.
I wonder whether this has also influenced Ms Brockmann’s writing choices.