Today I am so pleased to welcome Damon Suede to Joyfully Jay. Damon has come as part of the Coastal Magic Convention Blog Tour. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!
Thank you so much for having me on the blog again. SO, I just spent this past weekend at Flamecon 2017 in Brooklyn, NY wigging out with a crazy gaggle of LGBT pop-culture fanatics. It was an amazing event all around, and it reminded me how far our community has become as a pop-culture juggernaut. Comics, games, movies, fashion, music, you name it… Flamecon is hosted by Geeks Out, a local New York social club focused on fandom in all its forms.
One of the coolest things about the event, even in its second year, is how mixed and multifaceted the audience is across a wide span of age, gender, race, politics, and family structure…everyone from tweens to retirees, families with strollers and hot dorks on the make. Cosplay in excelsis! The entire weekend celebrates all these invented worlds that we build and share between us.
One of the cool things about going to conferences focused on other kinds of storytelling is how open and excited people are when presented with the idea of romances that step outside the box. Invariably, half the folks that come up to us have never even heard of LGBT romance and the other half had no idea the romance community has its own conventions. “Of course there are!” they’ll say and smack their heads…at which point I begin trying to breadcrumb them over to our neck of the genre woods.
Something I keep learning over and over at these events is how un-homogenous readers are and how accessible romance can be for audiences of every stripe. On Saturday, I ended up discussing Enid Blyton books with a plumber and learned about a fabulous new yaoi series from a straight 15-year-old boy. Astonishing and uplifting. Readers who picked up their first romance and stayed up all night to finish it and came back the next day for “another one like that!”
Girl, I house you.
At this year’s Flamecon, I ended up haranguing a whole new gaggle of folks about the possibility of fandoms that bump right up against theirs. Inevitably I ended up crowing about Coastal Magic quite a bit (as I am wont to do) because of its unique focus on subgenres and diversity which folks in comic fandoms get instantly, obv. Do I think those comic fanatics will rush out and sign up for the romance floorshow? Probably not. Or at least not in unison. But the Dreamspinner crew made sure they each left with books in their favorite flavor and new friends in the romance community.
When we were first setting up, an older artist wandered past us in a T-shirt emblazoned with a message that summed up the weekend: GENDER IS OVER. For whatever reason I thought about that T-shirt throughout Flamecon. “Is it?” I wondered. “Do we want it to be?” And even, “what will that look like?” Gender and sexuality play such huge roles in romance particularly, and in pop culture globally. Is gender over? For that matter, where is genre headed as a result?
I dunno. If nothing else, gender keeps evolving, and genre ditto. In the same way that splitting an atom releases cataclysmic energy I have a suspicion that gender hides an equally colossal force. What I do know is that writing love stories gets me charged up than fission or fusion, and reading love stories lets me tap that hidden flow. As an author, I love being able to hand the right book to the right reader even if it’s not something I wrote. Great cons open people up to miraculous possibility. Sign me up!
…Which is why I’m so excited for Coastal Magic 2017. In case anybody doesn’t know it already, this gathering is truly one of my favorite events of the entire year, for the people, the programming, and the chance for our tribe to come together in that special Brigadoon we make together. Cinema Craptastique and Flash Fiction are a sparkly bonus… The parties, the convos, even the bar shenanigans are beyond compare.
Most importantly, I’m excited to discover new writers and new readers in that special Coastal Magic context. And though I don’t expect to see a drag Hermione or X-men swimsuit competition in Florida, I know that my wacky tribe will be pushing the genre envelope. Hell…they push it, lick it, stamp it, and send it.
People need stories. And in whatever community, the special sorcery of a fan event gives us a unique way to dig into these stories, together, to drill down past the crust to the molten core of trope and possibility. Truth be told, many of my favorite books came recommended to me by folks I trusted who grokked what I dig in a story. A price above rubies, those people are worth! Hitting different kinds of events have opened me up to a crazy matrix of authors.
Whether or not gender is over, love is certainly more complicated that top-A and slut-B…whatever their chromosomes. Love stories ditto. That is a magic I can get behind.
Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Having lived all over, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter. Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been a full-time writer for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He has won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com.