The Importance of Diversity in Queer Romance by Piper Vaughn

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.

Rhys Ford also mixes it up. There are Korean characters in both her Cole McGinnis and Sinners series.

Amy Lane’s If I Must and It’s Not Shakespeare both feature Hispanic 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.


 Win Things:

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.


About Moonlight Becomes You

EMoonlight Becomes You - HiResleven years ago, Shane Ventura made the biggest mistake of his life when he caved in to pressure from his record label to kick his best friend, Jesse Seider, out of their band, Luck. To this day, Shane has never wanted anyone more, and all the sex and alcohol in the world can’t fill the void Jesse left behind. Not even the prospect of teaming up with Britain’s hottest band, Moonlight, for a massive world tour can get him out of his funk. Then he meets lead singer Kayden Berlin and falls into instant lust.

Kayden may act like he’s not interested, but Shane knows he feels the spark between them. Yet the harder Shane pushes, the more Kayden pulls away, until one explosive night leaves Shane with a broken heart. That seems to be his lot — lucky at everything but love. Shane still has one lesson left to learn, though: when it comes to love, you can’t always leave things to chance.

Grab a copy on Amazon US
Or Amazon UK

15 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I agree and also love the books you mentioned. I also like that they do not throw the ethnicity of the characters in your face.

  • « Bring on the diversity. I assure you, for most readers, it’ll be more than welcome.».

    You bet!

    Thanks for this wonderful post, the referred books —I go to check the ones that I have missed— and the giveaway .)

  • I love the diversity & love reading about other cultures, it adds so much to the story IMO. I’m about to start the Yakusa pride & Yakusa Courage books, which have Japanese characters. A great post Piper x❤️

  • I agree! And I loved some of the books you mentioned – I’ll have to check out the ones I haven’t read yet. Thanks for a great post!

  • Great post! I agree bring on the diversity. I have read some of the books you mentioned, but I am definitely going to check out the rest now too!

  • I always find it funny when the book site mentions that a book is multicultural. I don’t pick books based on ethnicity but on how interesting the synopsis is. In fact the more diverse the characters the more interesting the story can be. And I don’t want to read about the same thing all the time.

  • I love when people look at me and can see past the blond hair, blue eyes and pale skin. There are more to most people than meets the eyes. I’m half Native American, quarter German, 1/8th Irish and 1/8th black. My father’s grandmother was actually born a slave. Emancipation happened when she was 3 weeks old.
    Because of this I love when couples are blended. Cultural differences, with enough things in common to bring them together is always great. Thanks for giving us that.
    As always, Piper, your stories are great. Please keep them coming.
    Kathy C.

  • Wonderful post, Piper. I’m so grateful for authors who include diversity in all its forms. I want everyone to be able to read a book and see themselves because someone has taken the time to say, “I see you. Your presence in the world is valuable. The things that make you different make you special. Your story is worth telling. You matter.” Whenever a person sees a representation of themselves, that’s the message they get.

    • I totally agree, Carolyn. That’s exactly it! :)

      If you’d like a book from my backlist or a copy of my forthcoming “Hook, Line, & Sinker” or “The Working Elf Blues” (Christmas novelette), please email me at piper (dot) vaughn7 (at) gmail.com.

  • Other books with racially diverse characters:

    Bolt Hole – Amy Lane
    Stand by You AM Arthur
    Apple Polisher and Wallflower by Heidi Bellieu
    Scorpion fantasy series by Aleksandr Voinov

  • Josephine Myles writes ethnically diverse characters but all of them are so very English. I write diverse characters as well; I’ve wondered if they sound kitchen sink, but that’s the reality of most people I know, including my family.

  • I made the conscious choice from the start of my writing life to include ethnically diverse characters in my books, including as the leads, no only the sidekicks. Most of my books are science fiction, set in the future. I’d been brought up on Star Trek, which was deliberately diverse, portraying an idealistic vision of the future where humanity had learned to cooperate and had united to travel to the stars. That’s what I wanted to emulate and I’ve been trying to do so. You’re right about how important it is, Piper. We can’t read stories only about Default Man forever.

  • Excellent post. And this: “Love is not defined by skin color or gender. We are not a subgenre. Bring on the diversity.” Yes, perfectly said :-)

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