Today I am so pleased to welcome KJ Charles, Audra North, Vanessa North & Alexis Hall to Joyfully Jay. The gang has come to help wrap up Queer Romance Month, right here where we first kicked it off a month ago. Please join me in giving them a big welcome!
It feels kind of impossible that today is the last day of Queer Romance Month, but – somehow – it is. And what a month it’s been – so many wonderful posts, both on the site itself, and elsewhere too.
I, for one, am dazed with feelz.
These conversations have felt so very necessary.
And we want to thank everyone who has been involved – readers, writers, bloggers, lurkers – for supporting queer romance and making this happen.
It has been humbling. And amazing. A gift, a blessing, and fucking marvellous good fun.
To celebrate (there’s that word again) we’d like to share with you some of the posts from the month that spoke to us and moved us. And we hope you will share your favourites with us in the comments.
I have been consistently impressed by the posts on Queer Romance Month. It’s really difficult to choose just three of my favorites! Amber Belldene’s For These Things We Are Beloved was excellent. She is one of my favorite thinkers in the romance community—her experience as the leader of a faith community adds so much depth to her works. Queer Tectonics by John Jacobson post really spoke to me. I live an ever-evolving identity, and he described my human experience perfectly. And finally, I have to gush all over again over Elisabeth Lane’s Queer Romance Month Rainbow Cake over on her blog, Cooking Up Romance. Not only does the cake look gorgeous (and probably tasted just as good); it is a testament to the joy that Queer Romance Month inspired in others and the myriad of ways in which people add beauty to this world.
‘Pick your three favourite posts from QRM,’ he says. Like that’s easy, or even possible. Argh. The flash fiction, the incredibly personal posts, the thoughts on writing or identity or inclusion, the hilarious ones, the book recommendations that have made my TBR grow like bamboo…
In fact, what I’ve loved most about QRM is the diversity of viewpoints and subjects and treatment. And therefore I’m going to pick three posts that do completely different things.
EE Ottoman writes incredibly powerfully on being trans, on the exclusion and the fears and the need for hope: “I refuse to believe that I will always be alone, that being trans has doomed me to isolation and unhappiness. I refuse to raise another generation of trans children who believe that is true, that they are fundamentally unlovable because they are trans. Who live without ever seeing people like them portrayed as being in a happy, healthy relationship. Who never get to see themselves as the heroes of a story about love and being loved.”
And then there’s Cara McKenna’s post, which gives a hilarious account of one girl’s struggle to find Trent Reznor fanfic porn in the days of Netscape Navigator. As she says, “So why do I write male/male? Not for any flattering, admirable reasons, I’m sure you’re realizing—there’s no burning ethical drive on my part to champion the depiction of underrepresented groups in the erotic romance genre. No, it’s because male/male turns my crank.”
And the thing is, that’s okay too, because actually her post is, in a very funny way, about the same thing. About saying, this is me, my sexuality, and I do not apologise. About the power of stories to expand your horizons.
My third pick is going off piste because what I’ve adored is the way people have picked up QRM and run with it. Kim Dare’s post thinking about the word ‘queer’ and the community it brings was outstanding, and kind of sums up what linked the other two completely different posts and perspectives: “As a bisexual woman, I don’t often feel entirely welcome in the LGBT community, or in the M/M romance community if I’m honest. But the queer community, maybe that’s different. It feels like a community that says – if the world thinks you’re weird, that’s okay. We’re weird too. Come and be weird with us. We can be weird together.”
When I look at outpouring of emotion on the scale this event has brought, that it feels impossible to reach into it and say “this” or “that” was best, when it was all kind of fucking brilliant—the whole being more than the sum of its parts, and the parts being pretty amazing.
We asked our contributors for something very personal—their thoughts, their feelings, their stories of love. And they gave.
AJ Cousins gave us a piece of parenthood—and god, you know, being a parent is so damned hard—and it’s so scary. So many parents are so focused on teaching children how to be the sorts of people we want them to be, that we forget our children are teaching and molding us, too. As AJ says “Listening to my kid talk casually and openly about queer romance books made it clear to me that I should aspire to be more like him.”
Brandon Witt gave us instalove and heartbreak—and learning to navigate adult relationships after coming out. “Because, we were never fourteen, not like everyone else.” Brandon’s words about heartbreak providing the backbone for romance will stick with me for a long time.
And GB Gordon gave us sensuality, in what was perhaps one of the most lyrical posts of the event. Gordon’s post thrummed with passion, love, and rebellion. Every word felt like a gift. “Tell me again, world, how the meeting of our souls is lessened by what we find between our legs.” Me? I wouldn’t dare.
Apparently I am biased in favourite of the letter ‘J’.
I knew I was in love with what people were making QRM by, like, day two when Jenny Haddon wrote so beautifully about The Charioteer.
Mary Renault is such an important writer to me, and that book in particular is beautiful and devastating and perfect. There’s a particular feeling – a deep sense of warmth – that comes from knowing the books we love are loved by others. And that it doesn’t matter who we are, or where we come from, because there are always things to forge connections between us. To remind us we are not alone.
I am so grateful for this post. A gift from a stranger.
Speaking of gifts, I also really loved Jessica Scott’s Life After Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. DADT has always seemed particularly sinister to me: one of those supposedly well-meaning “compromises” that are as powerfully harmful as the most overt violence precisely because they don’t flag up immediately as WRONG to people who believe social oppression is about active hatred rather than quiet disempowerment. And while I’m personally of the “we all live on bits of rock” school of patriotism the idea that a certain group of people are only permitted to serve their country by hiding who they are splinters me inside. But, anyway, it’s gone now. Yay.
What I love about Jessica’s post is that she has no investment in this issue beyond compassion and humanity. It affects her only indirectly through friends and colleagues. When something isn’t about us, when it doesn’t touch us, it’s very easy to shrug. I think there are few acts in the world more valorous than giving a damn when you don’t have to. This is how you change the world, not by sweeping gestures or charity work or pride marches or petitions, but simply in the most banal way imaginable, person by person by person.
And finally I choose closets. by Julio Alexi Genao.
Because how can I not? It’s beautiful – a story of love and family and sex and hope, messily real and completely devastating. The truth is, no matter how out we are, no matter how liberal our friends, how evolved our self-identities, we still live and love in closets.
It doesn’t make our love less or our lives less real. It’s just what we have to work with.