I wasn’t sure what to write for this month’s guest post. I wanted to write a post about this week’s awful news from Orlando, but what can I say that hasn’t already been said, and in ways much more eloquent and succinct than my own? And, as an ally, it’s not my place to speak on behalf of the LGBT community, so what I will say about Orlando doesn’t come from any platform or any place apart from our shared humanity: I’m so sorry for those killed, for their families and friends, and I hate that we live in a world where people have the capacity to do such terrible evil to one another.
I was intending to tell everyone about my upcoming new release this month, but instead I got to thinking about m/m romance as a whole and why, when tragedies like this happen, I look for comfort in a story. Romance is the genre that all the other genres look down on, but I like it. Of course I like it, or I wouldn’t write it, and I wouldn’t read it. Some people think it’s silly, or lacks depth, and those are the people who’ve obviously never read it. And some people turn up their noses at it because it’s pure escapism. And to those people I ask, what the hell is wrong with escapism?
We live in a world that is so often horrific. Where bad things happens to good people all the time. Where it seems like the monsters win more often than they lose. So what the hell is wrong with wanting to escape into a world where there are happy endings? I don’t read romance because I think that’s the way the world works. I read romance because I want to believe that’s the way it could work.
I want to read about people who overcome challenges, who fight to do the right thing, and who, day by day, slay all their dragons. I want to read about a world where love is the driving force, not hate, where people are courageous enough to risk everything for love.
I want all the happy endings, and I will look for them every time in the stories that I read because there are so few of them in real life.
For everyone who, like me, is still struggling to get their head around the tragic events in Orlando, I want to share this quote by Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”’
This is a photograph of a queue at a blood bank in Orlando:
These are the helpers. There are thousands more like them, doing what can to push back against hate, against tragedy. In real life, we don’t always get our happy endings, but we can damn well refuse to let hate win.