When I heard about Queer Romance Month, I thought what a great idea, but what can I do?
I felt as I read the first few posts, what value could I contribute ? When people started recently (ish) to use the word queer, it felt a little odd, as for me it had connotations with the culture of the 1930’s and it felt slightly trendy, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve not joined in a debate for worry that I would use the wrong word to describe someone/ thing or had to resort to Google after reading something because the language was not mine. But I now feel that queer is actually a much more inclusive descriptor.
When I read this http://www.queerromancemonth.com/izzy-van-swelm it really resonated with me. In my teens I identified more with my best friend, male, gay, than I did with my female friends. I was attracted to men but the responses of my female friends were miles away from mine. With hindsight, feeling a bit of an outsider I aligned myself with others who were as well; although at the time it was much more organic than that.
I gave up trying to explain how I felt different after being called an attention seeker, and then was told I was ‘normal’ because I was a woman who was attracted to men. I had my own sense of normalcy and just got on with life. I’ve already said this once today, I wasn’t straight (in the 2.4 kid’s kind of way) but I wasn’t gay. There isn’t a tag or label that accurately described me; and I am now thankful for that.
My reading life has mirrored my real life, I started reading romance- Mills + Boon followed by Georgette Heyer , then a full on feminist phase with Dashiell Hammet on the side- from then on I pretty much read anything. Romance being pretty much hit and miss for me mainly due to the reinforcement of the heteronormative paradigm (a phrase of course I had to Google, but totally relate to now I know what it means). Two things changed my reading experience – joining Goodreads and discovering Queer romance (although at the time I wasn’t that enlightened and it was m/m romance). From then it has been full steam ahead, and I’ve read a lot of Queer romance in the last eighteen months and interacted with the larger community as well.
What I have discovered, surprise surprise, is that while there are some amazing books out there, there are some rubbish ones as well, that putting a tag of Queer or m/m on something does not automatically make it better written.
Even if there were romances written about women EXACTLY like me I would continue to support not just queer romance, but the people who write it, and also the larger community, and will continue to encourage others to do the same.
So in the end, in a round about way, I’ve written about being an ally of a group that I feel as connected to as any other group I don’t fully belong to.
My nan, who came from Ireland and lived in Salford her whole life had a plethora of sayings that she would use to illustrate the frailty of human nature, one of her favourites was ‘there’s nowt so queer as folk’ so by that token maybe we’re all a little queer ?’
I really struggled with music to accompany this but If you Wait by London Grammar comes close if you only listen for 1min 20 secs you will see why.