Hi, all. My name is Piper Vaughn. As some of you may know, I’m queer, I’m Puerto Rican, I’m married to a white man, and I love to read and write romance. One thing I noticed when I started reading and writing gay romance was the serious lack of diversity in the genre (in fact, this is an issue in romance in general). Just like in the television and film industries, the characters are predominantly Caucasian. A fair number of my own characters are, too. But up to now I’ve had five books and two short stories featuring at least one character of color. (To clarify, I know that when some people hear the phrase “people/person of color,” they think black or African American. When I say “color,” I mean non-white.) I’ve written numerous Hispanic characters, a British-Indian character, and one of mixed race, and I have more planned.
Why do I mix up the ethnic backgrounds of my characters? Why do I think this is important? Because queer people can be found in every single culture, and sometimes it’s hard to connect to story after story when you don’t see any characters who are similar to yourself, when you can’t identify and relate to the people you’re reading about.
Love is love. Race doesn’t matter. We all love and deserve love—and we deserve to have representation as well. I’m half of a multicultural couple. I enjoy reading about other couples similar to me and my husband. Sadly, I don’t often find them.
I know there’s an intrinsic fear or sense of caution that comes when an author considers stepping outside of their comfort zone and writing a character of a different race or ethnic background. You don’t want to mistakenly write some stereotypical caricature of whatever culture you’re trying to represent. This is when research is your friend. Watch movies, read books by authors of color, talk to people. I’ve found that when you put feelers out there asking for help, people are usually happy to volunteer, especially when it comes to something like this. Trust me, we want to see ourselves represented as authentically as you want to portray us. But I don’t think any author should let that fear prevent them from bringing more diversity into their work. As long as you’re careful of your depiction of these characters and you handle them with sensitivity and care, that’ll come across to the reader. They will seem genuine.
Some of the multicultural or interracial books that I love in the genre are:
KA Mitchell’s Florida Books, particularly “Collision Course,” “No Souvenirs,” and “But My Boyfriend Is.” They all feature characters of color. Aaron is half-Native American, Jae is Korean, and Dylan is half-African American.
JL Langley’s With or Without series, which features several Native American characters.
Daisy Harris has a few characters of color. One of her Men of Holsum College books features an African American man, another an Indian man. From the Ashes, book one of her “Fire and Rain” series, features a Hispanic man.
And as for my own books, the entire Lucky Moon series is multicultural. We have a couple of Puerto Rican guys, a Mexican guy, and the British-Indian man I mentioned earlier. My recent Wood, Screws, & Nails features a Brazilian main character. My free short, Three Strikes, includes a character that is half-Japanese. My and Xara Xanakas’s book, The Party Boy’s Guide to Dating a Geek, includes a Mexican character.
Just as queer romance should not be considered a subgenre, as KJ Charles said in her blog post, “multicultural romance is not a subgenre of romance about white people.” We want to read about people like us falling in love and getting their happily-ever-afters, too. At the end of the day, we’re all human, and in our heart of hearts, many of us long for the same exact things. Security, happiness, someone to share our lives with.
Love is not defined by skin color or gender. We are not a subgenre. Bring on the diversity. I assure you, for most readers, it’ll be more than welcome.
I’m offering a reader’s choice of any book on my backlist or my forthcoming, Hook, Line, & Sinker, available in late November. I’ll randomly select someone who commented on my post at the end
About Piper Vaugn
Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two thousand book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.