Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The Rise of LGBTQ Romance
In addition to being a Southern Magic member, I am also a member of the Rainbow Romance Writers (RRW), the LGBTQ chapter of RWA. I've watched the flurry of RRW discussions each year over whether it's worth entering the RITAs. Some RRW members joke that it's like buying a lottery ticket to be part of history. And every year, the board encourages all members to submit, because if you don't enter, an LGBTQ romance will never be nominated.
And they were right.
Heidi Cullinan's long contemporary Fever Pitch, Amy Lane's short historical The Bells of Times Square, and Lynda Aicher's erotic romance Bonds of Denial, all made the cut this year. True, two years ago Roni Loren's menage Melt Into You contained one male/male scene amidst its male/female/male menagey goodness. But this year is the first time novels with characters in the LGBTQ community are the main romantic pairing.
However, there's something a little wonderful about LGBTQ books being nominated for the RITAs. There's no LGBTQ category in the RITAs. That means that the judges looked beyond the genders of the characters, beyond their sexual orientation--and saw love.
Romantic love between two human beings.
LGBTQ romantic fiction has been on the rise for several years now. In 2009, the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter was formally accepted by RWA. In 2010, the Rainbow Awards were founded to celebrate LGBTQ romance. By 2011, LGBTQ romance writers started showing up at the RWA national convention. By 2012, RT welcomed LGBTQ romance with open arms and even setup an LGBTQ track in 2014. The Goodreads M/M Romance fan group has swelled from 2500 members in 2011 to more than 17,000 members today.
Words have an impact. And as LGBTQ romance has become more mainstream, so has acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the wider world. Gay marriage is now legal in 37 of 50 states which means 72% of the population of our country live in states where it is legal to marry a same-sex partner.
As readers read about men and women in LGBTQ relationships, they realize that everyone falls in love, everyone loves...and it becomes a little harder to hold onto bigotry and hate in the face of love and romance.
And that is definitely something to celebrate.
AIDEE LADNIER is a writer who loves quirky characters. You can visit her website at http://www.aideeladnier.com or meet her at some of her favorite social media sites:
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Aidee Ladnier, an award-winning author of speculative fiction, began writing at twelve years old but took a hiatus to be a magician’s assistant, ride in hot air balloons, produce independent movies, collect interesting shoes, fold origami, send ping pong balls into space, and amass a secret file with the CIA. A lover of genre fiction, it has been a lifelong dream of Aidee's to write both romance and erotica with a little science fiction, fantasy, mystery, or the paranormal thrown in to add a zing.