the romance genre is way ahead of the Australian government on this one

Yesterday the Australian Parliament voted against the Marriage Amendment Bill. It’s times like this when I think, “Thanks for maintaining the roads. I like the roads. But you do not represent me at all.”

But Penny Wong put it much better than I can.

Particularly to young gay and lesbian Australians, to those who may not have come out yet, or are finding their way – I want you to know that the prejudice you have heard in this debate does not reflect the direction in which this country is going.

Those who oppose this Bill speak to the past. I and my colleagues are talking to a better future.

Because whatever happens in the Parliament this week, our relationships are not inferior, our relationships are not less equal, and our love is no less real.

I handed in the first draft of my teen romance last week, so as a reward I took this week off. I’ve pretty much been reading without breathing, and mostly I’ve been reading m/m (male/male) romance.

I’ve been reading about repressed bankers in late 19C Manhattan, who can’t share their relationship with even their closest friends and families for fear of going to prison. I’ve been reading about Scuba Cowboys and trauma surgeons in present-day Florida who had to deal with family prejudice, but get engaged anyway, against the day their state allows them to marry.

Yesterday, when I saw on the news how very backward my government really is, I happened to be reading about a mismatched, gorgeous, crazy-romantic pair in present-day Britain. At the end of the story they get engaged. And then…they get married, in a civil ceremony, at Cambridge University where one of them is a lecturer.

It kind of blew my mind.

In the context of what happened in Australia yesterday – in the context of a not-so-distant past when gay couples couldn’t even share their relationships with the people nearest to them, and even of a present day in which gay couples are still waiting for marriage to be legalised before they can express their love out loud in the most fundamental way – that ending felt revolutionary.

The couple in that story didn’t have to wait, didn’t have to hesitate. They just got married.  And it’s not a fairytale, either – it’s just present-day Britain.

This is one of the things I love most about the romance genre. It made that experience real to me. It’s so unfalteringly optimistic when it comes to love.

I know there are conservative romance writers and readers out there, but for me, yesterday, my genre was one of the most powerful revolutionary forces operating inside this political debate. Romance doesn’t come into political speeches or reports – but it makes gay equality a reality for its readers, out in the world where change is happening no matter what our governments say.

Comments 9 Responses

  1. Catherine

    Oh, remind me to point you at Meljean Brooks’ Iron Seas series. They are hetero romances, but there are a lot of gay characters and couples wandering around being secondary characters, and they are just there and some societies don’t like it and others find it totally normal, but they are *there*, which is fairly unusual.

    Also, there are nanobots, zombies, mechanical whales that shoot harpoons at airships, and mechanical eyes that have lenses that are able to shift to infra-red or magnifying glasses or whatever else is needed. Among other things. These are amazing books in every way.

    (all of which is not to ignore what you’ve said, and which I totally agree with, I’ve just been thinking of you when reading these books, and just the normalised and accepted presence of gay characters who are not just there To Be Gay seemed topical)

  2. kaetrin

    Aren’t No Souvenirs and Muscling Through just wonderful. Was the other a Tamara Allen? I have one similar on my tbr but haven’t read it yet.

    One day we will have marriage equality in Australia. Soon I hope.

    1. anna cowan Post author

      LOL- I’m loving the guessing game :-). The third book is The Only Gold by Tamara Allen. I absolutely adored the first two thirds, but found the last third a bit off track. Still so worth a read, though, for that first bit. Holy moly can that lady write repressed romance! Got any other m/m recs? I’m loving reading it so much at the mo – and I have to get in as much reading as possible by Sunday!

      1. kaetrin

        Well, you can’t go wrong with other KA Mitchell’s if you liked No Souvenirs. Collision Course is wonderful as is Regularly Scheduled Life (especially if you like the angst – this and NS are my absolute favourite KAMs) and Bad Boyfriend (I didn’t like Bad Company all that much).

        JL Merrow has become another autobuy for me as well. I have quite a few on my TBR. I’ve heard Camwolf is great if you like PNR but I haven’t read it yet. I liked Hard Tail and Pricks and Pragmatism.

        I also Heidi Cullinan’s Special Delivery and Marie Sexton’s Coda series – it starts with Promises and the best, IMO, is Strawberries for Dessert but I recommend reading them in order because the characters in SfD appear in previous books and it means so much more when you have their backstory. I *love* Cole.

        And you cannot go past Sean Kennedy’s Tigers and Devils – it’s Australian – closeted, gay AFL player. The bedroom door is pretty much closed but the romance is strong and it is just wonderful. One of my favourites. There is a sequel coming out in October – Tigerland. T&D has just been reissued by DSP to celebrate – Sean tightened up the ending a little but otherwise it is the same book I have.

        There’s also the Life Lessons series (2 books) by Kaje Harper. Yum. And, the Taking the Odds trilogy by James Buchanan if you don’t mind a bit of Japanese rope play. One Real Thing by Anah Crow – very angsty and special. LB Gregg’s Men of Smithfield series is being reissued by Carina Press and the first 2 are out. Fun and sexy and her Albright and Romano duo are a hoot – romantic farce. Cop Out by KC Burn, Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander (kind of a noir feel to it but modern). Life After Joe by Harper Fox, Paper Planes by M. Jules Aedin.

        That might get you through the weekend 🙂 Please let me know if you read/enjoy any of them – @kaetrin67 on Twitter.

  3. Cecilia Grant (@Cecilia_Grant)

    I’m so glad you liked THE ONLY GOLD! I love that book so much, especially stuffy Jonah. One of those rare characters you can kind of laugh at, at the same time you’re fully empathizing with him.

    I haven’t read a whole lot of m/m, but I’d recommend Alex Beecroft’s FALSE COLORS. Age of Sail naval adventure with probably more moral depth than I’ve ever encountered in any other romance. Some gritty intense parts; not a lot of light-hearted respite (as you get in TOG), but my gosh, the writing is beautiful.

    Sorry about your government. I do think this is going to change by the time my kids’ generation is in power (if not before).

    1. anna cowan Post author

      Jonah was so amazing. The slow-burn of the first two thirds absolutely killed me. Such great subtext going on – especially the scene where Reid comes into his office and he hasn’t managed to button himself up right that morning, or do his hair. You can just feel how intimate and invasive it is for Jonah to be seen like that without a chance to catch his breath.

      I’ve been reading a lot of m/m, and I’m absolutely loving it. There’s something about Tamara Allen’s romances that feel really true to two men navigating love. Different to other m/m that’s two smoking hot dudes getting it on for my benefit :-). But I think that distinction is just as present in het romance, too.

      I will definitely pick up False Colours – thanks for the rec!

      I have no doubt gay marriage is going to be legal in the near future. The view that it shouldn’t be is anachronistic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.