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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 2001, 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.

* * *

Please feel free to contradict me, educate me, and flat out annihilate me in the comments for my ignorance and stupidity.


  • Well obviously I will say yes. Overtly gay men do get targeted rather easily.

    But this is about real life here and life is not fair…

    There are lines where if you stay sorta in them then even the most obvious behavior is not an issue.

    I am thinking in the military where I was in Subs which is literally a small small world with very confined spaces and one of the dudes in the galley (A cook) there was a rather flaming young guy.

    Now I made it a point to be friends with him but as the older dude I for one NEVER actually admitted to anything if you know what I mean and he never volunteered what his thing was.

    As long as we stayed within those lines even with each other we were both fine and accepted by the rest of the crew but we both knew the minute you start sharing you are so dead meat.

    So if by overtly you mean “out of the closet” then yes people will target you for being “uppity” if you know what I mean.

    On the flip side if you keep your head down and not outright lie but keep the details to yourself even while behaving pretty outrageously then people tend to leave you alone in a professional environment.

    It just depends on what you mean by overt is all.


  • Teresa C
    March 2
    3:05 am

    I work in an IT office with a total of 5 people, 3 male, 2 female. 2 of the men are married. That leaves me and 2 single co-workers (1male/1female).

    Of those 2 co-workers, I really don’t care what their sexual orientation is, and I really couldn’t tell you whether they are gay or straight, even after working in the same office with them for the last 4 years.

    But, I am one of the most unobservant people I know, you have to knock me over the head sometimes for me to see the obvious.

    Only in the last 6 months or so, have comments been made that make me wonder about the other female in the office, but again, I really don’t need to know her orientation. Just like they don’t need to know mine.

    I think I am just oblivious most of the time.


  • sallah
    March 3
    12:36 am

    I am a fairly butch looking woman, I have worked in Male dominated trades most of my life. Believe me, women get targeted too. Dyke, Lesbo, etc, were a daily part of the daily lexicon on the job… I did my job well, and frankly didn’t disagree because I didn’t want to have sex with any of those doofuses anyway, and I figured that it kept them from seriously hitting on me.. I was into the intellectual geeky type guy, which were NOT on the job sites..

    When I got married, several of the guys took it as a personal affront that I wasn’t gay, and hadn’t been gagging for them all those years..

    One thing I will say, and I know this is kind of generalized, gay men almost have a certain “cache” with a lot of women, while gay women do not have that same cache with straight men (at least not a butchy looking girls like me)… The closest I got to being invited anywhere was when they asked if me and my girlfriend (who was only their fantasy) ever did threesomes… I was a smartass, and told one guy once, “Sure, send your girlfriend over, we will take care of her.”

    It is a wonder I never got my ass kicked… seriously..


  • sallah
    March 3
    12:39 am

    oh, and part of why your not seeing lesbians in SBs books is because Lesbian sex doesn’t sell well to the hetrosexual females that normally read her books…

    Straight males seem to be the main target for lesbian sex (and they don’t seem to give a crap about story, or romance)


  • Are you saying that gay men are a worthier subject because they’re more disadvantaged than lesbians? I don’t think that’s true. It’s been argued that gay men and straight women get along so well because we have similar statuses (one step lower than straight males, who enjoy the highest privelege). Lesbians, by virtue of being women, are lower on the totem pole.

    I’m thinking of a Hilary Swank movie called Boys Don’t Cry, about a transgendered female-to-male. It shows how women with alternate sexualities are treated in our society. I highly recommend it.


  • Are you saying that gay men are a worthier subject because they’re more disadvantaged than lesbians?

    No, I’m not.

    I’m asking–evidently not very clearly–whether Ms Brockmann writes about gay men but not gay women because:

    a) she writes about Special Forces groups, which traditionally (and to this day, I believe) as mostly male. Ergo, it’s almost a given that there’ll be gay men among them.

    b) it’s ‘easier’ for even the non-observant to identify (sometimes incorrectly, of course) gay men than gay women. Ergo, it’s easier to believe (quite likely an incorrect belief) that there are more gay men than gay women.


  • Alexa M.
    March 16
    11:37 pm

    I’m not sure I understand why the lesbian would have to be in the military or special forces at all. It’s been a while since I’ve read one of her books but I’m assuming that while the heroes are in the military, the heroine/love interest isn’t or even if she is in the military, why can’t the heroine have a lesbian for a BFF (the lesbian BFF doesn’t have be in the military after all). Why can’t the hero have a lesbian, non-military BFF or even just a friend? I’m getting fed up with the whole male gay thing in fiction myself. I want more lesbian representation in fiction and not just gay males. I’m straight, not a lesbian, and it’s time to showcase the ladies too, not just the gay males as friends in fiction.


  • Edie
    May 13
    9:27 am

    Hell I think a better question is, is there a lesbian in any mainstream romance? Or even non mainstream?
    And I don’t mean as the evil ex of the hero..


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