We're proudly celebrating Pride here at the PHS this month, where Harper Miller talks about the state of M/M Romance and her wish for the genre moving forward.
Hi Folks, Harper here. It’s a pleasure to be a part of the PHS editorial team! Since the PHS is celebrating Pride Month, I wanted to write about the state of Queer Romance, specifically the M/M (Male/Male) Romance market and what I’d like to see change.
The strides that have been made in Queer Romance are great, but when it comes to M/M Romance, I believe authors within the genre can learn a thing or two from YA regarding representation and uplifting marginalized voices. YA has been leading the charge by creating an open atmosphere where readers can engage in discourse on topics usually shied away from—like racism and homophobia.
M/M Romance is the subgenre I read most often, and as a reader, I’ve noticed M/M Romance has garnered more interest from traditional publishing houses in recent years. For them, it’s a hot market. Understandable, considering Romance readers plow through numerous books on a weekly basis. They’re ready and willing to devour whatever their favorite authors release. When it comes to representation in mass media—specifically in Queer Romance—gay, white, cisgender men have the most visibility. Their stories are dominated by “white dudes banging.” There are a lot of M/M Romance books on the market but there is very little inclusiveness when it comes to the race of the protagonists, and stories written by authors of color are rarely lauded.
“Top Ten Best Seller” lists on most Romance blogs are densely populated by books with white protagonists written by white authors. We authors have the right to write whatever our hearts desire but this erasure is unacceptable. As a reader, I demand more from my favorite authors. When “white dudes banging” is all that people think of when it comes to M/M Romance, it sends the message that love should only be presented in a single form.
In Romancelandia, Queer Romance was relegated to the “back alley” and not taken seriously by mainstream publishers, but we readers and authors have rallied so our voices could be heard. Thanks to complex story arcs in comics and YA fiction, Queer Romance is finally getting the boost it deserves, and the stories that are being told are inclusive and representative of our evolving society. If we could get this level of progressiveness to translate into M/M Romance, we’d be golden. So, for Pride Month, I’d like to challenge readers to make their bookshelves and eReaders more inclusive. If you’ve never read Queer Romance, give it a whirl. If you’ve never read Queer Romance written by or about people of color, go for it.
Don’t be afraid to challenge your favorite authors to step outside of their comfort zone and write Romances that highlight different aspects of the LGBTQIA+ rainbow. Everyone deserves to see themselves within the pages of a book, and there are many stories to tell. If we are authentic in our writing and purposeful with our reading selections, we can move the subgenre in a positive direction and uplift marginalized voices at the same time. All it takes is the desire to see change occur. Change begins the moment we reflect on our inherent biases and make a concerted effort to do better.
If you’re not sure where to find Queer Romance books written by PoC's (Persons of Color), you can start here: PoC Queer Romance Authors Community Page. The page was created by Adriana Herrera and myself to give PoC who write Queer Romance a voice, because everyone deserves a happily ever after.
Happy reading, happy Pride! See you next month.
Harper Miller's latest book Complexity is out now, it's the fourth installment in the Kinky Connect Chronicles series. All stories in the series are standalones. Harper loves connecting with readers, so please visit her website, or catch up with her shenanigans by following her on Twitter or Instagram.
What are you thoughts on the state of M/M Romance? What are some of your favourite reads? Have you written or read any Queer Romances where the lead protagonist is a person of color? Tell us your thoughts here or on social media with the hashtag #MatterOfPride. We'd love to hear from you!