I’m talking with Ranae Rose today, a Bestselling Romance Author with over a dozen books under her belt. As you could’ve probably guessed we’re talking about how romance changes perceptions, and specifically how it has changed perceptions in regards to LGBTQ people and their relationships.
B: Do you think romance novels enhance the perception of LGBT people? The reason I ask is that I just spoke with someone who was dismayed at the seeming plethora of M/M fiction on major books sites like Amazon and Kobo when they went searching for gay (non-sexual) fiction. It’s my personal opinion that the popularity of M/M fiction among heterosexual women is one of the major reasons we have seen such a shift in the overall public perception of LGBT people. Your thoughts?
R.R: I do think that romance novels help create awareness and foster acceptance of LGBT individuals and areas of interest. When people read a story that causes them to care deeply about (LGBT) individuals and their romantic relationships, they see that LGBT people fall in love just like heterosexual people and that their feelings and relationships are just as genuine and valid. Recently someone (who I never would have expected to read any sort of LGBT fiction) told me that they read my historical m/m and m/m/f books and liked them. I was really surprised and pleased. It’s my hope that since I also write more traditional m/f romances, some readers who’ve never read LGBT romance before will try it because they liked my other books and that it will affect their views in real life. You can argue with someone who looks down upon homosexuality until you’re blue in the face, and you probably won’t make any progress toward changing their views. But romance novels target the reader’s heart and emotions, and I think that’s much more fertile ground for change.
I know that the majority (though certainly not all) of my readers are heterosexual women, like me. Heterosexual women make up a significant chunk of the national and worldwide population – when our view changes on something, the whole world begins to change. Perhaps most importantly, many of my readers are mothers, and I think mothers usually wield more influence over their children’s beliefs and worldviews than anyone else. Women who are reading m/m (or m/m/f, f/f, etc) romances are probably raising their children to be accepting of LGBT individuals and relationships (and are accepting of their own LGBT children, if they happen to have any), which I think is a wonderful thing.
Also, romance is, in general, the bestselling genre out there. I think that the prevalence of m/m romance novels is a reflection of the change in public perception of LGBT people. And as public perception continues to improve, I think we’ll see more and more LGBT romance novels.
B: From your own perspective as a historical romance author how have the perceptions about homosexuality changed throughout time?
R.R. Writing a historical romance with homosexual or bi-sexual characters is definitely different than writing a modern one. In many historical times and settings, if society discovered that someone was homosexual (or bi-sexual), that individual would lose their reputation, social standing and very possibly their life. So the characters always have that danger and burden. They have to be secretive in their relationships – forever. It’s not easy, especially since they’re probably also expected to marry. That’s actually a major part of the plot in my Sleepy Hollow Series – two men, and one of them becomes engaged. In the second book of the series, the m/m relationship transitions into an m/m/f ménage relationship. One of the great things about writing romance novels is that the characters always get happy endings like that, unlike most of the LGBT individuals who actually lived in those time periods.
B: You also write paranormal romance and many of my blog readers are big fans of that genre. Are your characters in those books also LGBT?
R.R. In some of them, yes. I actually write more paranormals than anything (some of them historical while others are contemporary). My Sleepy Hollow series is a historical paranormal series that features m/m and m/m/f romance. (I took the three main characters from the original Legend of Sleepy Hollow and gave them all a happy ending, together.) And readers can definitely expect more paranormal LGBT romances from me in the future.
B: I’m more of a romance person than an erotica one and have my own M/M romance novel coming out in September. Where would you say your books fall between romance and erotica and is there a reason why?
R.R. I actually don’t enjoy (reading or writing) books that are strictly erotica. My books are all what’s called ‘erotic romance’. I consider that to be a fitting term because my books are first and foremost romances, but they also contain scenes that are definitely erotic. I like to describe my books as romances that leave the bedroom door wide open. While the sex scenes are explicit and steamy, for me, it’s really about the emotional aspect. When I’m reading or writing, if I don’t care about the characters and their relationship on an emotional level, I don’t care about the sex they’re having. I include graphic sex scenes in my stories not just to titillate, but to provide a deeper emotional connection and a deeper view into the characters’ relationship.
B: Very well said.
If you are a LGBTQ author, artist or filmmaker and would like to chat, please feel free to contact me.