Adriana Herrera is our second Pride guest for 2018 and a first time guest on ALBTALBS! Adriana is an author and one of the co-founders of the Queer Romance Authors of Color Community Page, an amazing resource for authors and readers alike. If you haven’t visited this website, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so!
Who Runs in Your Pride?
“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.” –Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde is one of my role models. She was a queer, black woman, and a poet, and I often look to her writings for comfort. I’ve been thinking about those words a lot in the past few weeks, and how they relate to this month when we celebrate Pride.
So what does that have to do with LGBTQIA+ romance?
In my opinion, a lot. I love the idea of Pride. That the LGBTQIA+ community has fought and forged for space where we can march and celebrate who we are in our terms. I love that pride means, satisfaction, joy, fulfillment, and how for those of us who at times may have struggled with who we were, we can now we can come to celebrate our community, with pride. I particularly love that pride is also the word for a pack of lions who run together. There is something so right and beautiful about the image of our community being able to running together, fiercely and proudly.
Queer romance has always been a community ready and able to advocate and lift up the voices of those who needed to be heard. However there is one place where we must pay more attention. We need to do better in bringing in visibility for those authors and readers who belong to groups where oppression and the fight for basic rights is far from over. For many, the ability to live freely and safely is still a long way away, because even though there have been many gains in the LGBTQIA+ communities, our race, gender identity, disability, immigration status, and many other parts of who we are, are still barriers to our liberation. When we stand up for some, but not for others, we all lose. That’s part of the reason why my friend Harper Miller and I decided to create the Queer Romance Authors Collective. We hoped that we could lift up authors from marginalized groups, and help those looking find stories where everyone gets to have full and whole HEAs.
Whenever I’m asked why I write, I usually respond by saying, “I finally decided I could no longer wait for the stories I wanted to read, so I wrote them.” There are many of us, authors and readers that have been lovers of romance most of our lives. We have done so despite of the fact that we almost never get to see people who look like us, or have the same experiences as us get their happily ever after. This is something that as a community we need to fix. After all, we read romance to feel hope and connection, because we all believe everyone, no matter who we they are, deserve to feel known and loved.
I love the expression, “difference should make a difference,” so as we continue the conversation about inclusion and diversity, I encourage you to think about who you imagine when you think about your favorite queer romance couples. If they all look a certain way, then make an active choice to seek out those which are written by authors from different backgrounds, and are giving happy endings to people who might not look or sound like you.
There are so many authors writing stories where they present us ideas, histories and ways to love that we may not know are out there. I dream of a genre where every story, every character and every author can thrive and is fully realized on their terms. I dream of a genre, where we no longer claim we don’t see color, and instead say, “we see all parts of you and we embrace what you bring to our community.” That is my hope for romance, one which can see the value and richness in more authentic and diverse stories.
So my challenge to romance readers and authors on this Pride month is to think about your own pack, your pride.
Who do you run with? In the stories you read or write are there people from every background and when there are, are they whole and complex characters?
Take a moment to go to the collective and pick up a book by a new author, or reach out to an author of color and ask them what they’re working on. This community can only get better when there are more of us building bridges through the stories we write, read, love and share with each other.
Adriana was born and raised in the Caribbean, but she’s lived in Eastern Africa, Central America and New York. Reading and writing stories has always been her greatest passion. She loves writing about people who look and sound like her people.
Adriana is the co-founder of the Queer Romance Authors of Color Community Page, which was created as a space to bring more visibility to authors of color writing queer romance.
When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning trips with her family, or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s at her day job as a social worker in New York City.