I was chatting the other day with a new contact about a recent romance conference at which the subject of F/F romance came up. My new contact wondered why F/F wasn’t represented at said conference and, in a larger sense, at other romance conferences. I contacted one of the conference organizers and offered to put a panel together that dealt with F/F for their next gathering.
And was told “No, thanks. There’s not much interest in it.”
The organizer was nice enough, and completely polite, but it was a shut-down. Not even a “well, in our experience, it doesn’t seem there’s much interest in our crowd in F/F, but sure, if you’d be willing to put a panel together, that would be great and we’ll see how it does at our next con.”
Could’ve been worse, I guess. Could’ve been an “ERMAHGERD LESBIAN COOTIES AIEEEEE.” Which I have, actually, seen (though not in so many words) in some discussion venues about why F/F is underrepresented (if represented at all) in romance.
It’s not the first time conversations like the one I had with the organizer ended like it did. Definitely not the first time any discussion I’ve tried to raise about including F/F in so-called “mainstream” romance venues has been closed down by said “mainstream” venues. Responses are usually a vague “there’s not much interest in F/F,” though I’ve seen a few online postings that included “icks” and “the thought of two women just grosses me out, but two men is hot” and even “I would never read that.” (translation: “ERMAHGERD LESBIAN COOTIES AIEEEEE.” Let’s not even get into the nuances of what F/F could encompass in terms of gender identity and expression, love, romance, and sex.)
I’ve also gotten a few puzzled “there’s not a market for it” responses.
At which point I give them a crash course in the thriving world of lesbian fiction publishing and a list of publishing houses and recommend that the readers swing by the blog I co-admin, Women and Words (with nearly 3800 followers), for recent lists of publications from said houses and indie publishers as well as information about the many authors who are working in F/F.
In other words, yes, there is a market for F/F, and I don’t accept that it’s just ciswomen who identify as lesbian or bi. I have readers who are cisgender heterosexually-identified women and they let me know that they enjoy it and love my characters. I assume I have queer and trans readers, as well, whose sexual identities are across the straight/queer spectrum. I’ll concede that the majority of my readers are probably ciswomen who identify as lesbian or bi, but it’s clear to me that this is not the only demographic that reads my work or the work of my fellow F/F writers.
Perhaps the respondents mean, “there’s not a market among ‘normal’ romance readers for it.” (possible variation of the ERMAHGERD LESBIAN COOTIES AIEEEEE response), though I’m a glass half-full kinda person, so I’m hoping that the idea just hasn’t been floated widely and readers don’t realize that there is a thriving F/F industry with a variety of writers and characters experiencing a variety of life and relationship stages and types, romance, sexualities, and sexual expressions.
Golly gee whiz, but that sounds like themes from romance in general. Love and romance are human universals, though how it’s packaged and expressed in terms of writing it depends on the characters and their different life experiences and baggage. Relegating F/F (and queer romance across the board) to the “not much interest” corner and keeping it out of larger romance venues ensures that it’s perpetually “otherized” and “exoticized” and, as a previous blogger here said, ensures that the sexual orientation of the protagonists isn’t a defining characteristic, but rather THE defining characteristic, which further serves to marginalize F/F as a type of story rather than, simply, a story.
But because I am a glass half-full kinda person, and I tend to see “no” as an opportunity rather than an absolute, I’ll keep chatting up conference organizers with my offer to put a F/F panel together (suggested tagline: “reading F/F will not make you a lesbian, but it might make you want to set your single lesbian friend up with that other lesbian you work with”).
Oh, and I’ll keep writing ERMAHGERD lesbian n’ GBTQ protagonists as well as a plethora of other characters. Here’s to a glass totally full of across-the-board romance by across-the-board authors: messy, fun, sweet, sometimes heartbreaking, vibrant, exciting, sexy. Because as KJ Charles said here earlier, we can all use another good book.
Andi’s Queer Romance Recommendations
There’s a giant plethora o’ F/F out there. Start with authors Georgia Beers, K.G. MacGregor, Jove Belle, Karis Walsh, and Heather Blackmore, Jae, and Fletcher DeLancey (for a wide variety). And please feel free to drop me a line if you’d like some more recommendations. Just go to my website and hit the “Contact” page. Cheers!
About Andi Marquette
You can find more about Andi and what she writes at:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andi.marquette
- Twitter: @andimarquette (https://twitter.com/andimarquette)
About From the Hat Down
Meg Tallmadge is a veterinarian at a clinic in Laramie, Wyoming. She’s got a great job, great friends, deep ties to the family ranch, and big plans for her vet future. Sure, there are bumps in the road, like her mom’s continued denial about who Meg is and her painful and infuriating attempts to make Meg a “proper” woman. Then there’s Meg’s recent breakup with a girlfriend, which has her wondering why she can’t seem to open up to relationships. But Meg knows that life is messy, and sometimes all you can do is get through and shake it off. What she can’t seem to shake off, however, is her past.
It’s been almost ten years to the day since she met the love of her life, and about eight since she let her go. Meg has a hard time admitting that maybe she didn’t really let go, and that maybe some things you never really get over, no matter how hard you try. But her past is half a world away, caught up in her own life, relationship, and journalism career, and Meg isn’t one to chase the ghosts of past relationships. Even if they send you a birthday card and nudge what you thought were the closed-off parts of your heart. After all, second chances are the stuff of fantasies and movies where the good guy always gets a happy ending. You can’t count on something like that.
Or can you?