Coming Clean

By A.J. Llewellyn

The past few days have been an exercise in if somebody is ripping my heart out of my chest without anesthesia. I have been in despair and total agony. I have fantastic friends who have all given me advice but I simply have to address the big fat elephant sitting on my chest.

A former co-writer chose to tell people that I am a woman and the whole thing has exploded into a vicious vendetta that yes, was of my creation, but honestly was not meant to harm anybody.

When I started writing M/M four years ago I was advised to do so as a man. I chose initials instead of a name and found very quickly that I was very comfortable being A.J.

I relished the freedom being A.J. meant for me as a writer and person.

I very much identify as a man and no, I have not had surgery but I live as a man and my former co-writer knew this.

I feel as if a deeply personal struggle is being challenged and questioned…even ridiculed. It is nobody’s business, but I feel now that the next thing that will happen is for my detractors to reveal my real name.

I have an alternative career that would be destroyed if this were to happen. I feel as if this is what the detractors want.

When I started writing four years ago very few M/M authors did public appearances. My friend Michael did ONE appearance for me signing books at an event, an experience I chose not to repeat. I maintained his pics on my site, fb and twitter accounts because people who came to the signing knew him to be me.

Over the last few years people have suggested coming clean, getting rid of the pics…or even replacing the photos with somebody else so I could do more signings.

Of course, I did not do that.

I chose to do nothing. Partly it was because I feared a lack of acceptance. I feared rejection.

I haven’t exactly set the world on fire with sales but I found a niche, a voice, and then I partnered with DJ Manly, a fantastic person and brilliant author who doesn’t deserve any of the stuff that is happening as a result of all of this.

I cultivated AJ from my own experiences and feelings. I am AJ. I just don’t have a penis…yet. There are plenty of people writing in our genre who are not men and I feel their silence as all of this is happening.

When I did that book signing in 2008 I was not comfortable in my body, nor did I feel like I could come out as a woman. I liked being a man. I felt, like so many others that I was a gay man trapped in a woman’s body.

Part of why I have never revealed myself as ME is both because my work has already alienated my family who call me a prostitute and because it has also affected my career. I lost a job I love when I told a fellow co-worker what I write. They fired me because I quote, write porn.

My friend Michael appeared as me for ONE book signing. I was so excited about having my first paperback published.

The whole POD thing was new and my book was not available in the stores.

I was desperate to sell some copies and organized my own book signing.

Michael was kind and did his best as AJ. He was there for me but obviously it didn’t go very well… and AJ went incognito.

In a way it’s a relief to not have to hide behind Michael’s pics anymore but the viciousness of this attack still has me shell shocked. I can’t sleep or write. I simply don’t know what to do. I have removed his pics from my site etc but I don’t know what else to do except to say I am sorry to all my readers who feel lied to. Believe me, everything I have written in blogs and private emails is true. I love you all and love the emails, cards and IMs I receive…I am sorry if any of you feel duped but believe me it’s weighed heavily on me for a long time. I feel my work is strong enough to stand on its own whether I am male or female.

Yes, I am a biological female but I identify as a man and wish to be known that way. This is my personal preference and my hopeful desire in the future.

I apologize to DJ and Serena who are my treasured friends and co-authors. I love you both more than words can say and hope you can forgive this explosion that was not my choice…but in the end, is all my fault.

I sincerely hope my readers will forgive me and will keep reading my books. The past few days have been so agonizing I have felt suicidal. I want to thank my wonderful friends who have shown support. I am sorry I let you all down. All I wanted was to write…it’s all I still want to do.

with love,


160 Responses to “Coming Clean”

  1. AJ,
    I just want to add my support. Your writing speaks for itself. How in the world people can read M/M and be prejudiced, I can’t imagine. It shocks and horrifies me. I am an M/M author and when I started writing I was under the idea that people only wanted women to write M/M. It was hell for me to decide whether to pretend I was something I was not. I feel for you!
    Love to you, Man.
    Love and support.
    (the Divine in Me recognizes and honors the Divine in You)
    B.G. Thomas

  2. Hey love! I don’t give a fig about what your gender is. I love your crazy talent and the support you’ve shown me since I began. I admire your skillset and your work ethic. Neither matter in regard to gender. Everyone is entitled to their privacy and in this industry it’s not hard to see why hiding who you are is a safe gaurd. I hate that you had to break down and write a blog about this. I feel so sad that you were stripped bare. I will cloak you in my sunshine and friendship and hope to bring a smile back to your face.

  3. There are some truly vicious, cruel people in this world, and they love nothing better than finding a victim to stone. I’m sorry that you are the chosen victim on this occasion. Bless you, stay strong, be at peace and keep writing.

  4. I just wanted to say the Tina posting here is not me yikes when I got an email asking if it was… NOOO I am live and let live kinda gal. I read a story based on the story itself only.

  5. AJ,
    you have nothing to apologize for. Your personal life is your own. It is nobody’s business, but yours. All that matters is that you write wonderful books that lots of people enjoy. You have your true fans who love you and love your work. And I want to offer you my support and best wishes. Please stay strong and do not take these attacks close to your heart.
    And those vicious assholes can eat dirt. Oh gosh, they are such hipocrates.
    P.S. Greetings from Russia. ))

  6. I have stopped by AJ’s site every couple of days to see how he’s doing since all this came about. At first there were just a few responses but each day the number grows, with a majority of those being supportive. I have mentioned before that I am, and will continue to be, a big fan. It is his writing that draws me in, and if I ever have the fortune to visit Hawaii I hope to get travel advise from AJ. I agree with what B.G had to say and am very surprised by the prejudice that comes across in some of the negative postings. I am also surprised by the fact that AJ being transgender instead of plain gay seems to be such an issue. AJ is not the first author to “come clean” this year, yet I don’t remember the other author receiving so much hell, even though I believe she portrayed herself as a gay male with a long term partner, and even face prejudice due to being gay. To those that continue to feel so negatively enough is enough already. You’re entitled to your feelings but stop coming to the site if the support AJ is receiving angers you so much and give the rest of us who enjoy his work a break.

  7. I’m so sorry for this. You are YOU–a talented writer. The rest doesn’t impact how I think of you as a writer or a person. I’m so sorry for your pain *hugs*

  8. AJ,I could care less if you’re male or female. I read Honeybone and Wanted and was hooked. All I care about is when I can read the next book about Mingo getting married and add another book to the honeybone series. Just like the color of my skin should not matter,your sex does not matter. You must be doing something great or the other person would not try to take you down.

  9. Your books are AMAZING, i really LOVE them. And you do what you love to and follow your heart’s desire, regardless of circumstances. YOU are amazing. Few people are so courageous. Any person who looks down on your choices are narrow minded by society dictations and are blind to your talents and passion and courage. Don’t give a damn about what such people say. They don’t see the real you and are so not worth any pain. And that co-writer who brought you all this trouble, seriously, he is disgusting to say the least.
    Take care, hugs.

  10. Aj, I’m a gay man, bio male and I continue to be a reader of your work. It seems to me that you have a male identified persona, you identify with gay men, you write beautiful and moving fiction and you celebrate gay male sexuality. I don’t feel that you have stolen or appropriated male gender or taken anything off or deprived the gay male community of anything. On the contrary, you depict gay men lovingly, respectfully and humanly. As a gay man, I don’t need straight, bi or gay women to defend my patch as a gay man. I feel no threat and you have taken no liberties. You are a wonderful writer and I enjoy your work. It is as simple as that. In a sense, I feel honoured by what you have done. Too many women have expressed revulsion towards gay men and been derogatory about and to us. I am old enough to have experienced a straight woman say to me as a gay man that she would cure my and other gay mens’ homodisease, as she called it, by castration and that this would rid the world of sickies like us. so, let me say, you have much to be proud of, you have affirmed and respected gay men, nothing to be ashamed of and I respect you and your writing.

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