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Romancing the LGBTQ+

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THE books during the launch.

Popular literature, specifically romance novels, has become a well-loved form of entertainment in the Philippines.

High-school girls often tote around these slim volumes along with their textbooks and read them dreamily. Romance novels have often been regarded with disdain and often rightly so. They can be problematic and most works have formulaic plots, shallow and unrealistic notions of love, stereotyping of women and lack of diversity.

But slowly, there have been attempts to subvert the conventions and reinvent the form. One endeavor is the inclusion of different types of characters, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and other (LGBTQ+) characters.

Precious Hearts Romances Corporation, a major publisher of romance novels in the country, recently unveiled a new imprint, under which romance books are published catering to the LGBTQ+ community.

Launched aptly during during LGBTQ+ Pride Month, on 28 June in Quezon City, Pride Lit is the first Filipino pop literature imprint focused on LGBTQ+ stories. This is said to be part of its advocacy to recognize and champion the impact and massive contributions of the LGBTQ+ people all over the world and give them a platform to share their colorful stories of love, romance, struggle, triumph and determination.

JOHN Jack Wigley with his novel “Kadenang Bahaghari.”

Pride Lit is a product of a three-year effort of building a brand that fought hard for the inclusion of LGBTQ+ protagonists in pop culture narratives and for being a source of entertainment and inspiration to readers of all kinds.

But more than teaching us the value of appreciation and acceptance, the brand strives to create a safe space for underrepresented voices to flourish and share their stories, whether it’s about finding love in many forms and shapes or discovering one’s sexual awakening with fleeting moments of kilig.

There are five titles in the maiden output of Pride Lit — Alex Rosas’ gender-swap romance Gay’s Anatomy; Soju’s campy fantasy Ang Asul Na Buntot Ni Aquano; John Jack Wigley’s ensemble drama Kadenang Bahaghari; Lush Ericson’s instant pleaser Agustin and Ariston’s Version of the Universe and Angelica Sorreda’s romantic offering Over Time.

LUSH Ericson.

 

ALEX Rosas.

These novels speak of uniquely queer experiences and imagination.

“‘Pag nagsusulat ako dapat talaga nakaka-relate kayo sa kuwento, kahit fantasy pa ‘yan. Dapat ‘pag binasa niyo, makita niyo ang sarili niyong katangahan, sakripisyo, problema, hugot, paraan ng pagmamahal (When I write, I see to it that you can relate to the story even if it is fantasy. If you read it, you can see your own stupidity, sacrifice, problem, yearning, way of loving),” Ericson said.

“Each book actually talks about different emotions, experiences and were written differently,” Pride Lit brand manager Aiko Clarizza Buduan-Salazar pointed out. “The new titles will open readers’ minds on the fresh possibilities of storytelling.”

Pride Lit ensures the possiblity that LGBTQ+ characters and its allies can be prominent figures in pop culture narratives, and serve as inspiration to the LGBTQ+ community whose vibrant lives are worth telling, and are now everyone’s stories.

“We plan to release more books and become a staple in the community,” Salazar said. “Aside from providing feel good stories and erotic stories, we plan to become more reachable to our target market and community,” she added.

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