“Straight Town” is far enough out of my usual sort of writing (kind of) and far enough out of my own comfort zone, to be honest, that I’ve been wanting to write some companion pieces giving a bit of context to it along the way. These are going to be a bit rough, and a bit rambling–they are honestly just as much about me trying to clarify my own thinking to myself, as much as they are about trying to clarify the story to all of you. I have some topics that I want to touch on–looking at the eroticism in the emerging “gay to straight” trope which is popular right now; talking about how I relate the setting of Straight Town to other settings of mine, especially Pigtown and City of Bears; a discussion of generation trauma,and how I see this story unfolding itself, and as a potential anthology; my own discomforts here, especially regarding children and the act of breeding. All that said, I do also want to address your questions too–if you have them. If there’s something you’d be interested in having me comment on, you can use my curious cat to leave an anonymous question, or leave a comment below. I might not find every question answerable, but they will probably open up ideas I myself hadn’t even thought about talking about.
This story started out as a commission. It is no longer a commission–it took on a life of its own, and the original commissioner was kind enough to let me ride it out and see where it goes. The initial request was for a story to satisfy something he calls a “breeder fetish”–a twist on an age progression story, where in addition to aging up, you also find yourself with children, a wife, a family, a new reality around you, which functions mostly as a prison, in essence. It’s about struggling to come to terms with a new life you would have never chosen for yourself, and trying to accept a new life, and a new reality, that you never wanted. From there, we batted the idea back and forth for a number of months, as I tried to create a situation that would satisfy my own desires for my stories, with his fetishes. The premise of “Straight Town” is what eventually stuck with me.
It is a town which, in many ways, is the shadow world of “City of Bears”. CofB is urban and suburban, while this is rural. CoB asks the question of what a gay bear society might possibly look like, while this story examines a society where breeding is the sole drive of every individual. They both have patriarchs and instigators–Tristian and Roger respectively–both of them also similar to Rod, from my Pigtown stories. None of them are characters truly, but rather the rules and drives of the settings given power and agency. Straight Town is a world that is about hiding, and stealth and passing. It is a world about survival, where CoB is about flexibility and change and personal identity. CofB is the dream, and Straight Town is, in many ways, the nightmare. Because of that, this has been one of the hardest stories for me to write and conceptualize, mostly because it took ages for me to understand how I could possibly take something that terrifies me, and twist it around into something erotic.
I don’t really know if I’ll succeed. I don’t really know if I want this to be a story you jack off you at all. Part of me wants it to be a story you jack off to, and then sit there wondering why in the world you just jacked off to that. I have used a term in the past called anti-porn, which I define as a story which possessed all of the characteristics of porn, including the eroticism, but one which is also deeply unsettling. A story that makes you question your own understanding of your fantasies. Do we want to be Steve or Kevin? Do we want to be Roger? Is it our own relief that we could never be any of them, what really satisfies us? I think the answer is different for everyone, most likely. There is, without a doubt, something deeply erotic about the “gay to straight” trope which has seen a resurgance of popularity recently, and that is something I am still struggling to understand myself.
I have written a few things with this trope so far–some interactive chapters over on CYOC, and an interactive story, most prominently. All of them feature gay sex, which makes me wonder if they even really count in the genre itself, but I have certainly lost a number of loads over those, and other stories using the trope by other authors, though the reason why I find the stories alluring is slippery. I enjoy the taboo of it, in the way I enjoy all taboos–pushing yourself to enjoy something that you know, rationally, you ought to shun (like scat, gore, snuff etc). I enjoy the characters and the transformations as well, because the outcomes, straight or not, are often my kind of sexy. There is something else though, I think, that thrills me more about them–that in these stories, straightness is read as corruption. It is straightness which is wrong, detested, avoided and resisted. For once, we see gayness as purity–as the way things ought to be.
In heternormative society, gayness is a flaw at best, and a contagion at worst. To the heteroworld, we might be accepted, but we are never understood as something that can be pure. There will always be something wrong, or broken inside of us, which has made us gay–whether it is biology, or nurture, or Satan, or whatever else they are coming up with these days. Heteronormative society will accept us so long as we do our very best to scrub those flaws out of ourselves, to adhere to the hetero standards of behavior, sex and gender that they demand, that they consider to be pure, as though there is a belief that, inside us all somewhere is a perfect straight man or woman (and certainly nothing outside the bianary) and our goal ought to be to strive towards that “perfection” at all cost.
But these stories are not written as purification tales. Gayness is never removed from someone–instead, straightness is added to them. Characters don’t become a “straight” version of themselves, instead they become a straight caricature–the jock bro, the gamer loser, the raging christian conservative, the ignorant redneck. Of course none of these stereotypes exist, just as these is no such thing as the perfect himbo, the leather slave, the muscle daddy bear. But while we watch these gay men corrupted–for once we get to place outselves in a position of purity. There is a real moment of catharsis here–a belief, for once, that we are the ones who were right all along.
I want “Straight Town” to feel strange. I want the presence of children to feel alien. I want this town to feel like corruption. In a horror movie, at the end, the most cathartic realization is that, despite the horror you just witnessed, you are still alive. You are safe. Straightness, like ghosts, and demons, and zombies, was never really real at all–just a story we tell each other to scare ourselves in the night.