For the longest time, LGBTQ romance was a tiny part of the romance world — a segment often overlooked and underappreciated. But lately, more and more readers are flocking to the genre with fervor and excitement. Earlier today, Suzanne Brockmann, Heidi Belleau, SE Jakes (AKA Stephanie Tyler), K.A. Mitchell and Marie Sexton joined Riptide Publishing Senior Editor Sarah Frantz to discuss the many themes, issues and tropes presented in LGTBQ romance and why readers are so hooked.
Sarah Frantz dove right in and asked the authors why they write LGBTQ romance and LGBTQ characters. Bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann said, "I'm writing about people ... As writers, we need to do our research and know what our characters believe in, what makes them tick."
SE Jakes said, "I can't control who shows up in my head."
Both authors' sentiments reflected the general feel of the panel, that it shouldn't be about "gay" romance — it's simply romance.
"The trope I'm working towards is, 'So what?'" said Brockmann. "I love bringing that into the world."
When asked about the increasing number of crossover authors, moving from writing male/female relationships to male/male or female/femaile relationships, Heidi Bellau said, "Authors are seeing the opportunity write characters they've always seen."
When discussing the future of LGBTQ romance, panelists agreed that the genre will continue to grow, and that readers are definitely hungry for more stories featuring diverse characters in general — especially relatable LGBTQ characters. Mitchell added she would love to see more transgendered characters.
"This is a huge movement," said Sexton. "People are realizing there's so much heart in these stories. New York publishing can't keep being blind to this."
"It's tough for New York publishing," added Jakes. "I think they don't know what to do with [LGBTQ romance] ... The smaller pubs know what to do."
Bellau ended the discussion on a positive note by saying, "I'm just glad we have the space and publishers we currently have. It's heartening [and] it's important to have that access."
This enlightening and important panel left many feeling inspired, motivated and strong!
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