QUEER ROMANCE MONTH – FINAL WEEK with Beverley, Ulysses and Guests
I really hope that Prism’s readers have enjoyed QRM as much as I have. If you have missed these amazing essays, posts and comments, don’t worry the site stays up all year so you can sit and read when you will. Plus, the wonderful essays from the first QRM 2014 are still there too. Click here to go to the site. Can I take this opportunity to thank all the amazing Admins., volunteers and contributors. I am humbled by the work and generosity of so many people. 2015 FINAL POST is a song from DJ DeSmyter –
I said I would write about my favourites this final week, but this post is so long I shall just list with links so you can try them yourself. In no particular order –
Afloat One Girl: Forging a Queer Identity by Liz – Heart-warming look at finding your place in the world
Asexuality Awareness Week & Writing Asexuality by Matthew J. Metzger – Asexual Romances don’t need sex – simple?
Writing Queer Stories: Beyond Coming Out by J.K. Pendragon – After the homophobia and Coming Out – Let’s have stories and fun!
Everyone’s Stories by Catherine Dair – Enchanting way to start this event with our mascots Skip and Pip – Queer can be cute!
All That Drag by Kat – You’re never too old to be yourself
We All Need Stories but Which Ones? And Why? by Harper Fox – Gentle poetic prose can still pack a punch.
We’re Not Trends – We’re Right Here by Santino Hassell and Ashley Hayes – A picture’s worth a thousand words.
My final thoughts are from Harper Fox’ post:
But until the word “mainstream” ceases to have a meaning – until all our streams run peacefully and unpolluted to the ocean where love really is just love – the rainbow authors still have work to do, and remit far beyond the boundaries of entertainment and romance.
Ulysses Round Up of the Final Week
I’m ending Queer Romance Month 3000 miles away from my home and family, yet with my Kindle (always, always) by my side. So my LGBTQ stories (800 strong) are with me. Even if I never re-read any of them, I’ll still have them. They’re a psychological storehouse of comfort and energy and visibility that will never fail me. In addition, all through QRM I’ve continued to read and review gay romance books (13 in all as of this morning), thinking about my own tastes in queer literature, my own very personal and specific needs.
Frankly, this whole month has felt like I was in some magical queer Hogwarts and had a lot of homework. Which was awesome.
To be candid, Queer Romance Month didn’t change my mind; but it did open up my mind, make me more conscious of the broader issues that both divide and bind us together as a Community. Starting with Joanna Chambers’ eye-opening look back at Carson McCuller’s 1946 novel “Member of the Wedding,” and the phrase “the we of me,” this final week in QRM continued to probe deeper into why stories matter, why diversity in the stories we read and write is important, and why we need to be open to others’ needs even if they’re not ours. (That, my dears, is a run-on sentence, but Henry James did it and so can I.)
Even though I no longer really need sex scenes in my romances to really enjoy them, I am even more adamant after QRM that if you put sex into a book, you need to do it right, and be authentic about it. Geonn Cannon’s reminder that sex in romance is important – and Joel Derfner’s LOL post “F**king is Real!” – both resonated with me. The first time I read about men having sex sort of blew my brain open. Sometimes you just have to have it in the context of a story.
I was touched to read Sasha Devlin’s apology for bi-erasure in her stories, echoed elegantly by Heidi Belleau’s “Imposter Syndrome.” We can and should teach each other lessons like this. Although my own sexuality has been, so far, non-fluid and unchanging, the two most important men in my life have been bisexual. My father and my husband have lived entirely different lives, but pretending their bisexuality doesn’t exist doesn’t really help anybody. This was also very much on my mind as I posted a review just today on Goodreads and Amazon of Brad Vance’s otherwise excellent “Given the Circumstances,”which lost a star because of exactly this kind of unthinking bi-erasure.
But I also heard and appreciated Matthew Metzger gentle admonishment about asexuality. This was all in the context of finally reading TJ Klune’s tremendous new book “How to be a Normal Person,” and his own coming out as asexual to his fans. Klune’s new book is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever read, and it proved to me that love and sex and romance can co-exist in different combinations with equally satisfying results.
If TJ Klune is an example of an m/m writer who understands the importance of imperfection, Vicktor Alexander’s essay for his daughter Chipmunk drove home that point – as this entire month has – that the queer world is not all white and pretty and well paid. His essay was firmly in mind as I read, earlier this week, Ben Patrick Johnson’s tough, honest, touching novel “Splinters.” Aziah Jackson and Gerald Allyn are in many ways the opposite of the archetypal couple in an m/m romance. Poor, damaged, outsiders in the gay world itself, their story proves that love and romance can be about brokenness, too. Along those lines, Vanessa North gave us a fantastic little story this week, saying “yes fats, fems,” that left me yearning for the next chapter (see the paragraph about sex above).
I guess the lighter side of this healthy drumbeat of diversity is when we cross into para-normality. I’d sort of forgotten how routinely I read about human/non-human romance until I shivered in delight over Charles Rice-Gonzalez’s “Haunted Romance.” OK, ghosts are sexy. (I’m thinking ghosts could be a good avenue for asexual romance too, depending on how you choose to present your phantoms.) And Nichole Kimberling reminded me of one of my favorite couples, Washington detective Keith Curry and Gunther his goblin lover. Not only are goblins sexy, but goblin boys can feel isolated and different. Her little mini-story posted this week was so sweet and touching. We were all children once, and most of us began to feel that separation from the rest of the world when we were young.
Mia West reminded us (as if we needed it) of what a dangerous place much of the world still is today for LGBTQ people of any stripe. Zealots and haters don’t differentiate between gay and trans or non-binary. We are all still being killed for who we are. Thus writing our stories is both our shield and our sword. We must be our own voice.
So, as QRM draws to a close, I have to confess that, as much as I love queer romance, I don’t think I’d move from Australia to upstate New York for it, as Sandy Lowe did. But I love the commitment to LGBTQ stores that brought her to our shores. We need more folks like her. Finally, as much fun as fantasy and sci-fi and all of the endless imaginative possibilities for queer romance are, I was glad to read Darien Cox’s comments on personal truth in writing. Truth you have felt and experienced makes a story real. As Kelly Jensen pointed out this week: everyday people with everyday problems will draw your readers in and help the stories take root in our hearts.
My Kindle and I fly home tomorrow. I’ve already started another novel, and will probably have finished two by the time I touch down on the East Coast. The bottom line for me is one I’ll steal from Lou Harper’s post – stories are what makes us human. In the end, this is why we need stories.
Anyone who doesn’t ever need any stories, just isn’t going to fit into my world.
Amy Jo Cousin’s Final thoughts on QRM
I love QRM! My bank account hates it. I go on a non-stop buying spree for 31 days, because of all the fantastic book recs I get through reading these posts. And I really enjoy how much QRM focuses on the entire range of romance within the LGBTQ community. There’s not just one post about f/f books, or trans romance, or genderfluid identities. There are multiples of everything and I love that we get more than one perspective on all of these subjects. Plus, people are so willing to be open and personal and share stories from their own lives that really move me and inspire me to continue to broaden my own reading and writing. It’s a terrific event and I’m so proud to participate in it each year.
Miss Kat Fantastico’s Final thoughts on QRM
If this year’s official theme was We All Need Stories, then I think the unofficial theme was Bravery. And it’s the latter which I think epitomises why Queer Romance Month is necessary and important. In our little LGBTQ+ corner of the internet, you’ll hear a lot of declarations from people about being an ally to those from marginalised groups and the importance of inclusiveness. The reality is though, just saying you’re an ally, doesn’t actually make you one. Your actions do. And as an ally, I think you have a responsibility to help make sure that everyone across the LGBTQ+ spectrum feels safe, that you help foster inclusive spaces – anything less than that and you have failed.
This is where Queer Romance Month really shines.
Because it doesn’t pay lip service like some people, groups, and events do. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is made to feel safe. And the proof comes in the sheer number of diverse people writing posts about a number of different topics. When people share such personal, almost confessional things about themselves, you know they’re able to do so because they are given a safe and welcoming platform to do it.
When people can speak up, plead, rant if they want to, and know what they say isn’t going to be lost in the void, that people will listen, then you are doing something absolutely right.
One of the greatest gifts you can give a person is the confidence and freedom to be themselves, to be able say what they want without fear of recrimination. So I think it’s pretty fucking amazing that Queer Romance Month does that.
Santino Hassell’s Final thoughts on QRM
If I had to explain my thoughts about this year’s Queer Romance Month in a sentence, I’d say: “Many voices were heard.” There were posts by authors such as Alex Sanchez to Radclyffe to Tiffany Reisz and Rose Lerner. Above all, what I loved most about this month was hearing personal accounts and anecdotes from different people as they discussed why LGBTQ romance is so important to them. I also found hope in the number of people who spoke about the need for diversity. After hearing from so many different authors and readers and bloggers, I can only hope real changes will be made in the near future.
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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