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We Need Diverse Romance
But here’s the scary part: I am white.
The topic of diversity in romance is a raging discussion these days, and rightly (finally!) so. White people are not the only ones who ever have (or deserve) happy endings; we aren’t the only ones who fall in love; we aren’t the only ones deserving of shelf space. But if you look at the mainstream selections in the genre (most other genres, too), you would think you were looking at a polar bear eating vanilla ice cream with his straight, albino girlfriend in a snow storm. Further, when you look at historical romance titles in general, there are acres of dukes and virginal debutantes, and relatively few poor people, LGBT characters, sex workers, people with disabilities… In short, we read about rich, pretty, straight, law-abiding white people and occasionally, their white servants.
I’ve written characters from marginalized groups in all of my books—slaves and free blacks, immigrants, people with mental illness or no education, poor people and criminals. I make a point of writing at least one LGBT character into every book, though sometimes I am the only one who knows. (While these groups may not consider themselves marginalized now, I write historical fiction. You can bet your bottom dollar they were marginalized in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.)
Every time I write a character from the non-dominant culture, I have to research the situations people with these characteristics might have found themselves in, the laws lined up against them, the way they spoke and dressed, the mores of the subcultures they occupied. And every time, I shake in my shoes hoping I didn’t get anything wrong. Hoping I won’t offend. Hoping it won’t appear I am appropriating someone else’s history for the sake of my own storytelling.
And yet, I do it anyway.
Not because diversity is a hot topic or because I am trying to prove a point (though I have been accused of both), but because our world is diverse. It always has been. Without me, these particular characters would have no voice. I might not get everything right. I might unintentionally offend. I might tell a story someone with similar experiences could tell better.
But even though I have not shared my characters’ experiences, history, or encounters with oppression, those experiences can be shared through me.
It doesn’t have to be mine, but next time you are shopping for books, make a point to buy one that centers on a person of color or a character with a disability or one in love with a same-sex partner. Give a hand to an author who is trying to change the paradigm, and in so doing, change it a little bit yourself.
Support the #WeNeedDiverseRomance movement by buying a t-shirt, only available for a limited time. http://buy.teespring.com/weneeddiverseromance-tee?
When those she holds most dear are placed in peril by backroom political dealings, she enlists some of the most formidable lords in England to thwart her enemies. But even with the help of the prominent gentlemen she has captivated, securing Kali’s freedom, her family, and the man she loves, will require her protectors stop at nothing to fulfill her desires.
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Find Mariana Here
Facebook Launch Party, June 10, noon - 8 pm EDT: https://www.facebook.com/events/1423746821261258/
Website and Blog: www.MarianaGabrielle.com
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