Thank you Romance writers

I have a confession to make. I used to devalue romance. I used to be among those that believed romance wasn’t actual literature. That changed, of course, and now, you could say I’m the biggest romance fan ever. At least, in my head anyway. I know there’s tons of other romance fans out there in RomanceLandia, but sometimes, when I’m reading a romance book, I sometimes think they were written especially for me, even though I’m, ironically, probably out of the target audience for most romance books.

I’m a gay, white, blind, male that still doesn’t have a stable partner. I don’t date anymore, instead, I write letters to prisoners. People tell me I’m old now ¬†when I felt old at twelve. I can’t stand generational marketing. For example, this book has wonderful Gen alpha swordplay! I can’t stand the generational nicknames and identifiers, and, honestly, there’s just something about generational hype that really bugs me. I mean, really. Makes me grind my teeth and shake my fist at the sky yelling about marketing language. Maybe this is what it feels like to be old, older than my old soul age of sixteen? I don’t know and honestly, I think it’s all tied to ageism anyway.

I have a lot of thoughts about ageism, of course, about how we spit on the elders and think the younger people are supposed to automatically change the world. Perhaps I’m just not in the right time period, but I honestly can’t stand people putting an emphasis on age, of any age. Old, young, your twisted version of old and young, all of the above. This is probably why I’ve become the biggest fan of romance books, ever. Humans are timeless, no matter what generation they are in.

Back when I was younger, I devalued romance. The stories were predictable, I thought, so the stories didn’t hold as much value as other stories. I, of course, was wrong, but I’d like to stop and let you know the societal pressure I was under to think that way in the first place.

Perhaps it’s because romance is seen as women work, that it’s automatically of lesser value. I’m sure both cis women and Trans women are equally mocked in different ways for writing romance. Our society just doesn’t like women, of any kind, so when a genre used to be dominated by straight white women, well, misogyny can still happen to straight white women. They are not shielded from societies shortsightedness or unwillingness to listen.

I was constantly fed the notion of humans are predictable and shallow, and so stories about love and humans are just as vapid and meaningless because they are not imaginative. In fact, it echoes the anti-human thinking that goes on today with AI. In societies mind, beauty and love and, yes, even sex, are not worth it because these are all human things, and humans are flawed beyond reproach and should just die already.

I’ve written about my thoughts on AI so I don’t want to hash that out again, but when I gave romance a chance, that’s when my perceptions opened up. That’s when my understanding opened up.

After catching COVID-19, even though I took a billion steps to avoid it, I wanted to gaze into the hearts and minds of some of these authors. What better way to understand them then read their wish fulfillment, hopes, and dreams, in their romance novels. I was over the science fiction genre for a while. I wasn’t really in the mood to have something parotid back at me through a dystopian lens or some deep commentary about life and death and AI and more. My needs shifted. I wanted wish fulfillment more, not knowing that I’d run head first into understanding humans by reading their wishes, fantasies, and wish fulfillment.

There’re all kinds of subgenres in romance. There’s historical romance. There’s fantasy romance. There’s mystery romance and contemporary romance and more. All romance stories, though, have common threads, or conventions. The story must be about relationships. The story must have, either, a happily ever after ending, or a happy for now, ending.

If I knew how a book was going to end, I thought, unknowingly, what was the point of reading it?

On a whim, I tried romances by Black writers first because it’s good to read outside of my lived experience. One author I quickly gravitated to is an author I deeply adore today. Kennedy Ryan.

Kennedy wrote tons of books, but I got sucked in with the Grip series and the Hoops series. The Grip series especially spoke to me in a way no other romance series had at the time. It told me that it’s okay that we don’t know everything about injustices, the important thing is that we become better people than we were yesterday. It helped me understand what someone might desire from me, as a person. It helped me question what I really want out of human relationships. Do I just want understanding, or do I want to be with someone that will encourage me, and help me learn and listen more every day?

I soon devoured every book Kennedy Ryan ever wrote, and I’ll continue to devour her books. I also started branching out to other kinds of romances, like romances with Disabled characters. The next book I fell in love within RomanceLandia was Jeremiah, by Jayce Ellis.

As I devoured more romance books, I started to actively find books with Disabled characters in them, if only to see what people thought our happy endings could look like.

I felt touched in a way I couldn’t describe. Authors spoke to me through their romance books about love. These books might be predictable to some, but I’ve found a much deeper examination of my own desires as I continue to read romance books. Reading romance books helped me understand my needs as a Disabled person seeing partners or lifetime companions. Reading what makes these authors feel and wish helped me to understand that, sometimes, the world is imperfect. People make mistakes. People say the wrong things. People don’t always do the right thing, but it’s always good to stop and listen to someone’s else’s hopes and dreams because they will help you sharpen your own.

I’ve been in a romance bubble this past year and I don’t think it’s going to end any time soon. That’s not a bad thing though. The world is bad, sometimes. More times than not, these days, I want to enjoy someone else’s happiness. I want to enjoy someone’s wish fulfillment or tributes or winks and nods. I want to enjoy what makes an author feel sexy. I want to enjoy all the human elements I can enjoy while I’m alive, because it will help me listen more, and it will help me really assess what’s important in my loved ones lives.

So, with that being said, I guess I’ll end this by saying thank you, Kennedy Ryan, and thank you all other romance writers out there that help us listen through happy endings. Thank you for telling me that I’m not alone. Thank you for reminding me that, eventually, everybody has joy in their lives. Keep writing joy. Keep writing sex scenes. Keep writing wish fulfillment. Keep reminding quiet readers like me that it’s groovy to enjoy each other’s joy. Just, thank you, and keep reminding us of joy, even when things are fine.

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