The first LGBTQIA+ book I read wasn’t gay literature or MM romance.
That might come as a surprise to people. Most of my books thus far have had relationships between men (and occasionally between men and nonbinary folks). My publishing career started with a book that included a romance between two men.
MM Romance and other gay fiction are pretty prominent in LGBTQIA+ publishing. One might assume the reason I wrote my first novel was an extensive history of reading and writing about men.
One would be wrong.
All of my firsts have been books about women who love women.
Some years ago, I was still in a conservative religious community. But I was quietly advocating on behalf of LGBTQIA+ folks in places like that and trying to nudge potential allies into becoming actual allies.
I kept a blog under a different pen name. A lot of what I wrote was in support of the LGBTQIA+ community, though I was not out yet myself. To better understand, I asked a family member for book recommendations. All of those were lesfic.
The first one I chose was the classic Annie on My Mind. I was blown away. Not because the writing is higher quality or because it’s such a fabulous story. I’ve actually read better in both senses. No, I was astonished because that book existed long before I was a questioning teen who needed it. I wish I’d known back then what I know now.
After I left the harmful, damaging form of religion that robbed me of my identity, the first thing I wrote was a NaNoWriMo novel about a bisexual woman reliving a horrible day. She ultimately falls in love with a woman while making peace with her past. I was still not out. This was baby steps, seeking to understand myself.
My other firsts were also about women. The first time I beta read, it was lesfic. My first LGBTQIA+ book review was lesfic. And my first paid editing job? A lesbian romance.
I’m now returning to my deep love and appreciation for women. That novel I mentioned above is about to be resurrected in a much better form. It’s getting a makeover from me, and then it’ll get its formal attire from Supposed Crimes so it can make a stunning debut.
All of this is to say, I love my lesfic colleagues. Your work is important and amazing. You never know who you might be reaching. Maybe it’ll be that questioning teen, needing to know others are out there. Maybe it’ll be someone fifteen years into a marriage with two kids and a trolley full of baggage. Maybe it’ll be an author needing the courage to dip a toe into the water.
I am so honored and humbled to be counted among you. Keep writing. Keep putting your work out there. And thank you, from the bottom of my heart.