Hey Blog people! It's Rainbow Thursday again, so be ready for another awesome post by someone dealing with LGBTQ issues. Today, we have m/m reviewer Elisa-Rolle. She started up a gay romance review site on LiveJournal, and in the past few years has become a huge name in the LGBTQ reviewing world. She has been quoted on books and is an Amazon top reviewer. I asked her a little bit about how she came into the biz, and here's what she had to say....
What attracted me to LGBTQ lit, how I came to review it and feel so strongly, and why I think it's a genre that more people should read?
The easy answer to why I read Gay Romance is that I fell in love for a gay guy when I was a teen and since he and me couldn’t obviously have an happily ever after I wanted to know that it was possible at least for him, since, nevertheless what happened between us, I will always care for him.
But then, if you go really behind, to when I started being interested on LGBT stories, it was way before I met that guy, I still remember when I tried with all my own to find videotapes of The Boys in the Band, Torch Song Trilogy and Harold and Maude, movies that were already “old” when I was a teen, and were available only in videotape, and when I was a teen, even the videotapes were rare.
At the time I was reading everything, from classics to contemporary authors, and above all I was reading romances. It was a fight everyday, since I’m from a very “high cultured” family, where it’s not strange if you read Kafka at 12 years old (as I did), but if you want to read about love, and sex, it’s not something you have to do. It’s also even more strange if you consider that I were one of the few children, if not the only one, from an atheist family, and so I was not influenced by the common prejudices Catholic upbringing give you about who is not like the majority of people (and it’s not only referred to LGBT) and what is expecting from you as common behaviour.
Anyway all this was abruptly interrupted when my father was diagnosed with cancer and I spent the last part of my teen years waiting for the unavoidable (my father had a terminal form of cancer). I was really not in the mood of reading love stories or dreaming for a future that seemed not bright for me. I was 19 years old when my father died and the first person I met who gave me the chance to think about something else I considered my way out from depression. He was that guy of above, and he was a troubled soul inside a beautiful body topped with a clever mind. Too much probably for the closed society we were living at the time, and he ran away as soon as he was able to do that. More or less at the same time, also I left my home town for the big city, and other loves/lovers were waiting for me as well as other delusions.
More or less 5 years ago, I joined a reading group: the purpose was to find books in original languages not considered by Italian publishers and try to propose them. We had to read the books, mostly in English, and compile a rate; each book had to be read by at lest 3 in the group and only if all 3 readers found it worthy, the book passed to a following phase. Another reader in the group proposed a Gay Romance by Stephanie Vaughan, but no other than me wanted to read it as second and third reader. I had nothing against the idea, actually remembering how much I liked Maurice, I was very curious to read a Gay Romance, a genre I didn’t even know existed (remember I live in Italy, and only 2 years ago a publisher started to translate Gay Novels, but not romances, and it is the only publisher till now).
I fell in love for that book, it was from Loose Id, and I immediately bought all the LGBT books from that same publisher, and then books from other publishers, and then I opened my LiveJournal and started posting reviews and… here I am today ;-)
Why I think people should read it? For the simple reason that I think people should read a story since it’s good, and not since it’s a LGBT story. But the problem is that, when I started my LiveJournal very few review sites considered Gay romances, and only few and specialized reviewed LGBT novels. I wanted to give people the chance to find info about books they love, and little by little, I focused on LGBT novels since there was like an unquenchable thirst of reviews, and authors from all around the world asked me if I was willing to read their books, and people continued to say I was the first place they landed for info… it was almost overwhelming, and terrifying, and I still wonder what it will happen when I will no more able to follow all of them. I’m happy I’m no more alone in doing it, and maybe, sooner or later, I will think to a some sort of retirement ;-)
Wow, you have a lot of backstory behind this Elisa. I'm so glad you got into reviewing m/m, because it's really provided a lot of m/m authors with great opportunities. Be warned, fair readers, her website has some adultish content, so no going over there unless you are able to. Thanks again for coming, Elisa, and hope you guys have a very diverse Thursday. ;)