Queer Romance Month — And Why Queer Stories Matter to Me

 

Queer Romance Month, is a month-long celebration of romance across the LGBTQIA spectrum. There will be posts from authors, writers, bloggers, and discussion with readers as well. It’s a reminder that LOVE is not a subgenre — and it’s a way to celebrate QUEER (and all of its spectrum) romance. 

The theme for this year is “We All Need Stories” … and suddenly, I want to say something about it too. Because yes, WE all need stories. 

Last year, around the same time, I wrote a guest post over at Boys in Our Books; basically my “limited” coming out online of being an asexual and how I even arrived to finally acknowledging my asexuality. At that time, I didn’t exactly wrote it for Queer Romance Month event, though I was inspired by it. It has been almost a year since then. I am no longer part of that lovely blog and I have identified myself more firmly as Asexual (rather than Grey-A). I still read a lot of romance, including MM romance (a genre that I discovered about 6-7 years ago). And I feel that I am forever grateful to queer stories because without it, I will never learn about myself.

So let me just write again, why queer romance matters to me…

As an Indonesian, born in a country with Eastern culture, talking about sex in daily life is not something common. I don’t know whether the younger generation of Indonesians are different nowadays, but in my time, there’s no such thing as sex education at school. Sex is something you do privately. You do it with your spouse AFTER you get married. Maybe there are people doing it before marriage — but they don’t really talk about it except probably with very, very close friends. Heck, my mother taught me about handling my period. But having sex? Nope. Nada. Maybe it’s different now, with tons of information can be found just with the tip of your finger on your cellular phone — in which I hope that means the younger generation of Indonesians can learn about various spectrum of sexuality earlier than I did. But for me, learning about my own sexuality doesn’t even possible if not for those queer stories I read.

Queer romance opens my eyes about different spectrum of sexuality — that it is possible for man to love man, woman to love woman, man to love both man and woman, woman to love both woman and man … and for someone to have no sexual attraction all. Because in a culture where not being very sexual is highly acceptable (as in, it’s common if you’re 20 year old something and you’re still a virgin especially if you’re not married yet) — asexuality may as well be an alien from Mars. How do you explain not having sexual attraction to society who don’t really talk about sex, much less differentiating about sexual attraction and sexual drive? Heck, even I need to scour The Asexuality Visibiliy and Education Network to be able to understand more about the differences.

Despite that culture, romance books are (thankfully) visible here. Local bookstores carry romance novels, either translated to Indonesian or in its original language, English. We can also purchase them online. Romance novels has its Indonesian readers and fans. Duly noted, they are heterosexual romance. Because Indonesia is still a predominantly Muslim country and acknowledgment to spectrum other than heterosexuality is still a long way to go. But let’s imagine that in those romance novels, there are queer characters or queer couples … isn’t it a wonderful way to introduce queer sexuality then? Then imagine the possibility of these readers learning about queer romance and further along, learning about their own sexuality.

Imagine … another me.

So keep writing about those queer characters — because who knows, your stories might open the eyes of another non-Western person who love reading romance and find out about queer characters, and discover more about queer romance, and be more tolerant to queer, even realizing his/her  own sexuality. Because like K.J. Charles wrote in The Mary Sue, Queer Romance is a celebration of “reading what you like, writing what you love, and being who you are“. In the meantime, I look forward to reading more posts at QRM.

 

I am not an author so this post is all over the place, I know. Maybe I will write more about things celebrating this month, but don’t expect coherence *LOL*

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