Gender & Orientation Diversity in Queer Romance

As I continue to read and write queer romance, I’m becoming more aware of the importance of diversity. I’m taking a class, Writing The Other, to work on improving my portrayal of people of other races, backgrounds, ages, etc., but even on the level of gender and orientation, I think there’s more ground to cover.

Most queer romance publishers publish more cisgender gay male romance than anything else. I have no doubt that this is partly due to what their readers buy the most and partly due to the sort of submissions they get. Before I started writing original work for publication, I was active in a couple of fandoms and I noticed the same trend there. There’s tons of M/M, a little bit of F/F, and then an uneven smattering of everything else (somewhat varying by fandom, of course). You can find stories with trans or nonbinary characters, asexual characters, polyamory, bisexual or pansexual characters, etc. but if you combined all of those, you’ll probably still end up with less than the number of gay cisgender M/M stories out there.

As a writer, I want to include a variety of orientations, gender identities, and relationship configurations in my work. I’ve read and loved some fabulous cisgender, monogamous,M/M romance. I think it’s a great thing, and I’m glad it’s so popular. I’d just like to see other relationship models become more common as well.

I’m trying to challenge myself to write many different relationship configurations, with different genders and different orientations. In Rule of Three, two of the characters are cisgender male (one human, one not) while the last is genderqueer and uses ze/zir pronouns. In Creation Debt, a rogue ex-scientist falls for an agender android. Goblet’s Edge explores the development of a threeway relationship between a duke, his servant, and the queen, from the perspective of the male bisexual servant. My latest project, Trial By Fire (still in edits), stars two lesbian superheroes, one cisgender and one transgender.

As a reader, I make a point of buying a variety of romance. I try to purchase stories with trans and nonbinary characters, polyamory, and other less common types of queer romance. I still buy some M/M, especially if it’s speculative and by an author I like, but I want to do my part from the reader’s side to show publishers: Yes, there is a demand for bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, pansexual, asexual, and polyamorous romance!

I hope that as the genre of queer romance continues to blossom, we’ll continue to see the variety of stories increase as well. M/M romance is great, but there are a lot of other types of relationships we could do to see more of.