Queer Romance Month (2) with Alexis Hall and Beverley Jansen with Giveaway:
Welcome to the second Sunday Spotlight with Alexis Hall and Beverley Jansen looking at the wonderful goings on during this week of Queer Romance Month (QRM).There have been a plethora of posts to choose from and each post has received a wealth of replies.
AJH: Yes, I’m really happy in general with how QRM is going, and the conversations we’re having around romance and queerness, and queer romance. On the subject of which, I have to mention this post from Kim Dare: she’s a contributor to QRM (posting on the 11th, actually) but this is an additional she post about QRM, and community, and exploring her personal feelings towards the word and the identity of ‘queer’.
BJ: Yes, I read her post on her blog and was hoping we could put a link up to that post.
AJH: The word queer has been a minor discussion point around QRM, which has been pretty interesting to me. It’s certainly a word I’ve come to embrace – it feels very powerful to me – and I personally have always found it more inclusive than gay or LGBTQ or whatever. But I think what I found very striking about Kim’s post was the extent to which queer can be alienating as well. Like it’s this special club that you only get to belong to if you pass certain identity tests or whatever.
BJ: Personally I like the term queer as to me it signifies different, unique, non traditional or even eccentric, which I don’t mind at all. I wonder if it means different things depending on which side of The Pond you hail from?
AJH: I think it’s more, uh, mainstream as a term for QUILTBAG folks in the UK. Most of “eeew nasty” comes from Americans – sorry folks 🙂 But I guess what I was getting what was this idea that … like … well you can be married to a member of the opposite sex, have 2.whatever children, and bake cookies on Sunday afternoon and … still be queer, you know? Identity is inside, not contextual.
BJ: Yes. Exactly.
AJH: And weirdly I think that’s why ‘queer’ is both … right and wrong. Because on the one hand it doesn’t demand certain behaviours (political or sexual) but on the other hand to some people it does seem to suggest a community which they can’t access, or in which they don’t feel like fully fledged members. That makes me sad. And this kind of brings me back to a lot of the discussion in and round QRM. Is it okay if we talk about your post a bit?
BJ: Yes it was quite a learning experience for me! 🙂
AJH: Yeah, poor BJ got some quite mixed reactions. I really liked her post – as I read it an exploration of the limitations of community. One of the problems, I think, of being marginalised in a marginalised community is that its a kind of double whammy of alienation – which is, honestly, something I think it behoves all of us to look at. But I … while I know you were hurt by some of the responses (although the bulk of them were positive and supportive) .. for me … it was kind of typical of the sort of discussion that happens if you get a bunch of LGBTQ folk together in a room: some of them will start loudly disagreeing with each other. And I think one of the problems with queer-centric discussions in Romancelandia (and everywhere) is that … people think there’s an answer. Like a voice of queerness. When there’s many voices, and I think that’s the positive thing I draw from QRM in-squabbling.
BJ: I have learned a lot from the response to my post, which I think was maybe too personal, and inclined me to try to word it as a general view rather than take ownership of the very personal details it included. This meant it came out a little easy to misinterpret. However, it did confirm for me something I had hoped was not so that gender politics can still overwhelm the ordinary members of the LGBT or Queer community and make them scared to speak out. .
AJH: I think complicated issues are always overwhelming to everyone because what we’re dealing with is a lot of hurt and alienation on all sides.
BJ: I agree with that yes. I did like Amy Lane’s post though especially, as she talks about this dichotomy between swamping allies or members of the community with the political facts before we draw them in with the simple truths of human rights and love is love.
AJH: Yes, I liked that post a lot too. I think it’s another one of those perspective things: I like the fact that there are so many voices coming together, queer, and straight, and politically queer, and politically straight and all the variations inbetween. I like how hopeful and gentle Amy is – I think that has real value. But I guess something that troubles me sometimes is the fact that people will often use the existence of moderation to condemn what they see as extremism. Like if something doesn’t directly affect you – if it’s, to an extent abstract – it’s very easy to be pleasant about it you know? To focus your energy on not threatening people who already have social and political power. I’m co-opting this blog post totally – but can I tell a story?
BJ: Yes I’m sitting comfortably…
AJH: So I was with my partner, picking my goddaughter up from school, and Kathryn is … she’s the most amazing human ever, but I guess I’m biased. Anyway, she’s a very … it’s hard to explain, but she’s quite self-possessed. Much more than me. I am often outclassed by her. Anyway, she’s never experienced much bullying or anything like that, thank God, but one of the older girls decided to give her a bit of a grief about the fact she appeared to have two mothers and two fathers (which she sorta does). And I was really upset about this and I approached the girl’s mother, because I wasn’t about to give some twelve-year-old who wasn’t mine an anti-homophobia lecture in the playground. And what her mother said to me was that I should have thought the affect my lifestyle choices would have on a child. Like she was really nice about it, you know? Very polite, very British. But her perspective was absolutely: my goddaughter deserved to get shit in the playground because I happened not to be straight.
BJ: I’m nearly speechless and that doesn’t happen often. What was your response to this mother?
AJH: I went to the school principal, it was all awkward as hell. I wasn’t aggressive or anything, but because I was quite upset about it, I think I came across as angry. And because of that it spiralled into this person feeling threatened by me. I absolutely take responsibility for that – I could have / should have handled it better. But it’s this trap that queer people get into, you know? If something happens that hurts or damages you, and you try to deal with it, it always becomes about how you tried to deal with it, how many straight people you offended with your distress, instead of … whatever it was you originally felt was wrong.
BJ: I’m really upset that you and your goddaughter had to deal with something like that. I don’t understand how bullying of a child can ever be about anything other than bullying is wrong. However, I do understand where you are coming from and how not being straight can be brought up all the time inappropriately and as an attack.
AJH: It’s kind of … more about how we engage with injustice in the world I think. I mean, I loved Amy’s post, don’t get me wrong, and it fills with me with joy that all across the world there are gentle-hearted people moving softly within their communities, trying to inspire change. That’s really important. But I think there also needs to be … acceptance, I think, that sometimes we’re angry, and sometimes we’re hurt, and that doesn’t make anybody A Bad Person.
BJ: I think we are agreeing but from different perspectives. My post covered some time I spent working for women’s rights in the political arena. Gender politics and using a hammer to crack a nut was the norm. I felt angry that despite all the rhetoric and outrage they really only managed to change the wording of Chairman to Chair. This felt ridiculously small when I knew and was surrounded by LGBTQ people and women who were suffering real problems in the real world. I think that is why I grew cynical about slights over wording.
AJH: I don’t know, language has a lot of power. And I think a “real” problem is anything that makes anyone feel devalued. It’s like the use of gay of as a pejorative. I know there are plenty of LGBTQ folk who think we should just let it go because it’s just a word. But I feel … no, we shouldn’t because gay-as-insult is a form of microaggression in precisely the same way as having standardised language that erases women. But then, plenty of women don’t care either way. So … yeah … this shit, right? It’s complicated 🙂
BJ: I think you’ve upset my argument, as I constantly rebuke people for using the word GAY as a pejorative term.
AJH: Me too – it’s actually a joke in a lot of my schools because I do it with such tedious regularity. “This is gay, sir.” “You know what else is gay, Perkins?” “My use of homophobic language, sir.” What other QRM posts stood out for you last week?
BJ: I loved the twist on romance from Edmond Manning with his post Make Room for Happily Never After. I like the idea of Queer romance allowing for redefining romance tropes and the need for conventional happy endings.
AJH: Yes, that’s a really important post. I don’t have much to say about it except YES YES ALL THIS. In my outside voice. I’m really fascinated by Edmond Manning, honestly. I think the man could write a laundry list that would leave you feeling at once perplexed and renewed, and thinking deeply about your life.
BJ: I totally agree and can you see King Perry with a conventional happy romance ending? Though it felt loving to me, just in a different way.
AJH: Yes. Absolutely. I also really dug Lilia Ford’s Outside In. There wasn’t much discussion around it, but I think in a way there didn’t have to be, because it was a really well-articulated post. I don’t know much about Lilia Ford but she’s on my read now dammit pile.
BJ: Was that the tentacle sex one? 🙂
AJH: Yep, it sounds amazing … subversive? Her post is just really clever and thoughtful, and there’s something really delightful to me in that.
BJ: I will go back and read it fully, can I be shallow and say that I skimmed, saw tentacle sex and didn’t read further…
AJH: Tentacle sex is not my, uh, thang. But I think Ford approaches the genre specifically to subvert and deconstruct and play. I mean this is from the blurb:
Contains plenty of hot, non-consensual tentacle action, including but not limited to tentacle spanking, tentacle gagging, and tentacle-sex. Quite separately, it also contains an adorable pink-rainbow-sparkle tentacle monster. Those who dislike adorable pink rainbow sparkles or hot tentacle action should definitely not read this book.
That makes me glee.
BJ: Haha! I see what you mean.
AJH: I would like an adorable pink-rainbow-sparkle tentacle monster, please.
BJ: Wait till Christmas. :p
AJH: Hehehe. Anything else stand out for you this week?
BJ: I have to say that one which stood out for me simply because of the effect it had on me when reading was Love is Love by G.B.Gordon.
AJH: Jesus, yes. That knocked my socks off. I really like his book, so I always knew the man could write but … that post. I keep remembering bits of it as I just walk around, you know?
BJ: I do know! It made me want to rewrite every love scene I’ve ever even considered writing. It was…pure romance and full of feeling and desire. It stayed with me.
AJH: Can we quote a bit?
BJ: Oh yes.
AJH: This bit is is just everything for me:
Want to wrestle down your impatience, to hear you moan when the inescapable agony of desire runs through your veins like ginger, sweet and sharp. Nowhere sweeter and sharper than where you grow slick against my hands, spicy on my tongue. When you’re lost in the liminal spaces between your lust and my touch, and your mind has forfeit all awareness of how your body arches willingly into the utter annihilation of your consciousness. Your fingers threading through mine, the strength of your tightening grip.
AJH: First of all, I just have no resistance against the word liminal. Especially because it’s one of those words – like chiaroscuro – that you have to use so carefully, because it can massively over-weight a sentence. But it’s stunning, that whole paragraph. I can taste … ginger and desire. Amazing. And I love the intimate touches, like the hands, and that subtle undercurrent of strength and surrender. I … I’ll be in my bunk.
BJ: Lol. Can I post a bit I loved too?
I want to wrap you in my tenderness when you’re exhausted, want to kiss the corners of that smug smile that follows you into your dreams as your limbs relax against mine. Completing me. The shadows of your lashes soft over high cheekbones. The challenge in your chin undiminished, even now. Your sleepy trust turning me so fierce and gentle.
BJ: For me this was masculine with a small ‘m’, tender and loving without mentioning any of the graphic terms that are often used. It was subtle in its power. It made the reader feel love.
AJH: Yes, the reality of … masculinity (to use that difficult term) really brings this post home to me. Obviously notions of authenticity are very very difficult with fiction, and m/m, and intersect only orthogonally with the gender-identity/sexuality of the writer … but this felt very real to me. I hug it. Speaking of real, and since we’ve been talking a bit about queerness and children, I loved also loved Is that the Gay Romance, Mom? by AJ Cousins. I loved it for its honesty and its vulnerability. I kind of feel if everyone in the world was Amy Jo, all problems everywhere would be instantly solved. And I think it’s like … The Answer to the question of how to be a good ally (again to use a problematic term): just think, and care. That’s it. All you need.
BJ: The world would be a much better place if ‘think and care’ were a motto we all could adhere to. My daughter had two friends with gay parents, and the only time I was ever called to visit the school for ‘a talk’ was when she was six and stood on a little box in the playground and gave an anti homophobia speech. Her friends had been bullied. When the head asked what I was going to say to Rebecca, I replied, after hugging her and congratulating her, we would celebrate with the four Dads and her friends. The head agreed and congratulated Becca too. That’s how it should be.
AJH: I … can’t think of any better way to end this post. Queer Romance Month is running through October, showcasing amazing posts from amazing people. Please come and joins us.
BJ: As Alexis has left us I have to recommend his post also www.likesbooks.com/blog/?p=14239 It’s entitled C is for Celebration and is quite lovely.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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