Hi all! Angel Martinez here. *waves* Back in the 90's, I worked strange jobs in corporate land and I did a lot of traveling, a lot of time in airports with unexpected layovers and delays. We didn't have e-readers, so I'd often haunt the nearest newsstand and pick up whatever SF or Fantasy book they had on the shelves. I read a lot of crap. But what I saw in far too many books during that time was something that disturbed me profoundly. Why was the lesbian or gay character always a psycho? Or he/she was all right, but had to die? Why did all the writers write queer characters as if being LGBT was a character flaw?
That, and the fact that a very puzzled younger me could never figure out why Sam married Rosie when he clearly loved Frodo, was what drove me to start writing gay characters of my own. I wanted gay characters who were people. Flawed, but just as complex and sane as the person next to them, just as capable of healthy love and of great deeds. While I found a scattering here and there, it wasn't enough, and the gay heroes just weren't there. I realized I'd just have to write my own.
And Angel was one of many authors who picked up their, well, keyboards and started typing. I, Freddy MacKay, was a reader at this point and to my surprise, a new genre popped up. Angel, and many others on this blog hop, wanted to show fictional characters that represented the good in all of us queer folk. As people who deserved to be loved and have their happy endings. Us queer folk craved being shown as human and loved. And out of that, MM Romance was born, knocking the doors off the old conventions of being bad, or psycho, or the one to always die.
Gay romance became an open doorway for queer readers to find themselves being presented positively and for getting those long-craved happy endings. Then the wonderful thing? Ally's found gay romance too. Romance, the biggest industry out there noticed us, and the industry grew. Wonderful unicorn and rainbow explosions later the field is huge, people are supporting us, loving us, what more could we want?
Heh. Well, there is more to life than romance. *gasp* I know. Frightening prospect. *laughs* No. No, not really. Romance was the luckiest and best place to start giving us positive representations of ourselves. Not only could we see, yes, it's okay to love ourselves, other people could see it too. Talk about it. Support love. Break down those doors stopping us from love.
But love is only one part of our lives. If we're lucky, it's one of the greatest things we can experience, but there is more to life. The fight for the right to marry is not the end all for us. It's the start of equal rights. Being able to marry the person you love no matter what starts the ball rolling. Just like gay romance has started the ball rolling for other genres for LGBTQ to break into. Because romance breaks down the greatest barrier of the unknown: fear.
When reading a fantasy novel, I wanted to see me. When reading a mystery, I wanted to see me. When reading another science fiction novel, I wanted to see me.
Now, you could argue that the romance genre has those: fantasies, mysteries, science fiction stories and so much more. And we do, but just as fantasy and science ficiton have their own genres outside of romance in mainstream fiction, as a queer folk, I want that for my LGBTQ characters too.
Because it means we're accepting LGBTQ as part of the every day normal life where we can be represented in any fiction and be accepted.
That would be a huge step, for anyone to be able to pick up a book with a non-hetero character and accept it. To read it. To enjoy it. To not care that the character was gay or trans or bi, but accept that the identity of the character was only part of the story and there was so much more.
My gender and sexual identity are a part of me, but does not define me. I am a science junkie, a nerd, a lover of camping and hiking, an old movie lover, and a reader of books. And when I can see me being part of a story but not have to be a romance, and for people to read and love it anyway, then I'd know we're going to be okay.
That I am safe. That my friends are safe. That people are seeing me.
That people are seeing someone human. Nothing more.