Queer romance. As a queer who has had a romance or two—or four or five—
I can’t help but come at writing romance as I’ve experienced them in my own life. You could look at it that I don’t really know how to stretch myself as a writer or that I’m too self-absorbed to get out of my own way, and you will find many reviews that say just that. I enjoy putting a different spin on it all, however. (I grew up in church, believe me, I know how to propagate Spin.) I tend to label my writing as transparent and realistic—even my fantasy writings.
You see, I have a difficult time reading romances where everything works out, or where there are two beautiful, nearly perfect people. Some of the biggest complaints of my writing (and at times, when a demented reader discovers my books, biggest compliments) are that most of my books don’t have a clear HEA and/or my characters can be selfish and make pretty stupid (human) choices.
As a man with a degree in youth ministry, when I finally came out between the ages of 24-26, I was pretty much a junior high school girl in the body of an adult male, and I behaved as such. I think many of us who were closeted for so long faced this challenge. I’d never been kissed, never been on a real date (not with guy or girl). I ended up, for the next several years, on a relationship crash course of growing up. Those people who never lived in the closet don’t understand why a 25 year old gay guy might makes stupid choices that the rest of world figured out when they were fourteen.
Because, we were never fourteen, not like everyone else.
Up until my early thirties, though I was extremely mature for my age, over-educated, and an extremely hard worker, I was a complete idiot in how to have a relationship. That ista-love that is so common and annoying in romance books? I did that more than once, and I was as devastated when it ended as you were when your first love in Jr. High broke your heart. It’s hard to watch in an adult. It’s even harder to watch yourself go though it and feel like you are completely, pathetically insane. In addition, part of that growing up, part of becoming the man I am now, the man that is FINALLY able to have an adult, genuine, lasting relationship, were those break-ups, both the endings of insta-loves and having the man I thought I was going to marry telling me he was leaving one day.
Just because those ended did not negate their power or importance. Nor did they become non-romances. Just because a relationship ends, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a romance. Just like when I eat my cheeseburgers, they don’t stop being cheeseburgers once they’ve been devoured. (I wish they would, I won’t struggle over my weight as much. Disclaimer: if I see an opportunity to make a cheeseburger comparison, I take it.) In fact, I don’t trust a romance that hasn’t had a good portion of heartbreak before its inception. I must say, both in my writing in my real life, I am so thankful for those ‘mistakes,’ those failed relationships, those selfish choices, those twelve-year-old-girl-inside-a-grown-man moments. They made me a strong man, one who is brave, open, able to take risks, and one that is able to have a relationship with more trust and authenticity than I’d ever thought possible—and, I hope, given my writing an honest (if not always pretty) backbone.
Brandon’s Queer Romance Recommendation
Woke Up in a Strange Place by Eric Arvin: For me, the book that started my writing career. It’s because of this book and this man that I finally found my dream publisher. Not to mention that is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read.
About Brandon Witt
Brandon Witt resides in Denver, Colorado. When not snuggled on the couch with his two Corgis, Dunkyn and Dolan, he is more than likely in front of his computer, nose inches from the screen, fingers pounding they keys. When he manages to tear himself away from his writing addiction, he passionately take on the role of a special education teacher during the daylight hours.
- Twitter: @wittauthor
Brett Wright and Finn de Morisco come from vastly different worlds. Disowned by his family for being gay, Brett builds both a life on his own terms and walls around his heart. But nothing can prepare him for the evil that stalks him in the night or from discovering the dark secrets of his heritage.
The youngest of a doting family, Finn lives a sheltered life that allows him to trust easily and makes him quick to jump to the rescue. While using his knowledge of the supernatural world to help Brett uncover the truth of his ancestry, Finn learns neither his magical life nor falling in love is as simple and risk-free as he believed.
New knowledge comes with a price—one that may prove too high for them to pay.