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Without the Romance

no romance

Today’s topic comes from QSFer Elizabeth Barrette:

Sure we can non-romantic queerlit. I’d be interested in it also being non-horror which is most of what’s left after you take out the romance, it tends to go straight into existential despair.

This one hits kinda close to home. One of my recent stories was just hit in a review for not having enough “romance”, and the same complaint has been addressed to a close friend’s new book as well.

And at Rainbow Con, I was asked by an audience member whether an LGBT story without romance or sex is really an LGBT story at all.

So my questions to you today: Do our stories have to have tons or “romance” or “sex” to make them good stories? Can’t we tell good LGBT stories that stand on their own with little or no “romance”? Will they sell?

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2 thoughts on “Without the Romance”

  1. I think this is a major issue. But it should not be. Romance and sex do not need to inform the greater part of a story about LGBT characters any more than they need do so for a story about straight characters. One needs to recognize the difference between sex acts and sexuality and tell the story accordingly. It is certainly possible to tell a very sensual story with little or no sex just as it is possible to spin a great murder mystery with no depiction of the murder itself. Unfortunately, LGBT fiction seems to be regarded under the lens of sex acts in the same way that the LGBT community is often regarded. We are too often identified by what we do or do not do in the bedroom and that stereotype pervades LGBT literature; whether written by a straight person or someone of the LGBT community.

    Further complicating things is the fact that so much of what is classified as LGBT fiction/literature is written by and for straight women, so much of what is out there is not truly representative of who we are as LGBT individuals or what we want to read in a story or book that features LGBT characters. This work is, unfortunately and inappropriately in many cases, marketed under ‘romance’ and it seems that just about any work with LGBT characters is somehow now expected to fit into this genre. Whether it is a murder mystery, an action/adventure story or sci-fi, the opportunities for getting something published are significantly slimmer if there is no ‘romantic’ or sexual spin to the work.

  2. Haha I am actually the senior editor of a lit mag that does exactly that! Vitality Magazine published positive LGBT genre stories that aren’t centered around the characters’ sexuality. We frequently publish queer sci-fi w/no romance, and pay semi-pro rates (3 cents/word) as well. :)


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