A book with two pages curved up to form the shape of a heart

5 LGBTQ+ Romances by Oregon Authors to Read This Winter

There’s no better way to beat the dreary Oregon winter than to turn on the heat. A great way to do that is to add a little spice to your reading pile with a deeply engrossing romance. Here are a few LGBTQ+ romances to warm you from inside out, written by local Oregon authors who haven’t seen the sun this winter just as much as you, so they know how it feels.

Wolfsong by TJ Klune

Wolfsong is about Oxnard Matheson, a young man who lives in small-town Green Creek. One day he meets the Bennets, a strange and highly loving family that moves in next door. What he doesn’t know is that meeting them will take him on the journey of a lifetime––full of heartbreak, found family, werewolves, mates, and magic. This book brought me through all the stages of grief and my full range of emotions several times over. A mix of feisty romance, propulsive action, edge-of-your-seat thriller, and world-bending fantasy, this is a great starting point to begin your winter of heat. It’s a four book series, so it’ll keep you burning for a while.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Following the young brujo Yadriel, this story brings you on a journey into the spirit world where he finds, well, a ghost––but not the one he wanted. Cemetery Boys is a paranormal romance, a newer niche to the romance genre! As Yadriel tries to prove himself as a real brujo, he accidentally summons the ghost of the school bad boy, Julian. As Yadriel tries to help Julian back to the spirit world, he learns that maybe he doesn’t want Julian to leave at all. This story is vibrant, heartwarming, and heady-weightlessness inducing. It’ll calm you down from the raging fire the Green Creek series will set, but keep you toasty warm like a marshmallow in hot chocolate.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Another fantastic read by TJ Klune, The House in the Cerulean Sea follows Linus Baker, a quiet man who investigates magical orphans. On a peculiar assignment, he finds himself at the Marsyas Island Orphanage, where he meets Arthur Parnassus. And it all goes downhill from there (in a good way). This book is positively delightful and wholesome in so many ways. Part quirky identity-finding story, part romance, it will warm you from the deepest parts of your heart that this winter season has frozen solid––all the way down to your toes.

We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia

In this pandemic and this political climate, this book puts the icing on the cake. We Set the Dark on Fire follows Daniela Vargas as she goes through school as a wife-in-training––what every woman is made to train for. Top of her class, she is expected to be the best, but is that what she wants? The story follows her as she rebels against the patriarchy (yes!) and tries to derail the system, falling in love with one of her female classmates along the way. It’s rebellious, clever, thrilling, and feminine forward. This book is a fiery sensation that’ll keep you blazing until spring and summer bring the sun back.

Satisfaction Guaranteed by Karelia Stetz-Waters

This one is a bit on the fluffier side, rather quirky and hilarious and a little . . . rom-com-y. Not that we don’t stan a good rom-com here, but that hasn’t necessarily been the theme for this list. Satisfaction Guaranteed follows Cade and Selena as they run, and attempt to save, a failing sex-toy shop called, you guessed it, Satisfaction Guaranteed. It’s a bit of a scandalous spin on the rom-com––a bit lighthearted, a bit what-we-didn’t-know-we-needed-until-we-read-it. It’s got just the right amount of slow-burn, hilarity, and serendipity that will bring you down a notch so you’re not burning bright when the sun finally comes out. After this, you’ll be just the right temperature to head into spring and summer without getting burnt (this is not a substitute for sunscreen, however).

Check out these books if you want to add a little heat to your winter and maybe even save some money on your electricity bill (wink wink). Not only that, you can support the LGBTQ+ community and local authors at the same time, and spice up your life while you’re at it!

rainbow coming out of dark clouds

Double-edged Sword: The Erasure, or Harmful Portrayal, of Bisexuality

When it comes to the discussion of LGBTQ+ inclusion within literature, we can see that progress has been made, albeit not nearly enough. With the expansion of queer inclusion in literature and digital media, new issues arise, such as perpetuating stereotypes. Speaking in terms of specifically bisexual characters, these issues often result from them being portrayed as a means of creating a specific type of character rather than for the purpose of positive representation.

It’s fair to say that coming out in any aspect totes along its own unique and frustrating labels and assumptions from those outside of the community. In my experience, the bisexual identity comes with being ostracized, not only from the straight, cis-gendered community, but also from their LGBTQ+ family as well. One of the biggest stereotypes is that bisexual individuals are “promiscuous” and, likely, unloyal. While this is not the case, the portrayal of bisexual characters across different media platforms only serves to preserve these damaging reservations about the orientation.

On the other hand, there is yet another negative form of stereotypes. Where there is no general sexual frivolity in a bisexual character, there may instead be the assertion of “confusion.” This is particularly true in cases where the audience is led to believe (not know, as this usually happens through suggestion instead of saying the words out loud, which is a whole other issue in and of itself) that a character is bisexual, but they tend to end up with the opposite gender. While this is fine in theory, the issue we’re faced with is the perpetuation of the stereotype that bisexuals are just “confused” or “experimenting,” and that when they settle down, they will inevitably choose a “straight” relationship. For a recent example, I think back to the Marvel/Disney show Loki. The Disney+ show led some fans to think that Loki might (finally!) end up in a relationship with another male character (although, I hold my reservations about Owen Wilson being a match with Tom Hiddleston—but that’s neither here nor there). However, what ended up happening was the rug being pulled out yet again for hopeful, queer audience members and pandering to the straight, cis-gendered community (I’m trying to be vague so that I don’t give any spoilers). Even though many people know that Loki is bisexual, there is a blatant lack of that part of his identity in his character’s representation, which is problematic, especially from such a large platform as Disney.

Literature can be just as challenging. Consider the novel Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult. The story revolves around Zoe, a bisexual woman who eventually becomes estranged from her husband. In the resolution, Zoe falls in love with another woman. And while this certainly happens in real life, the problem with this novel is that, rather than restating Zoe’s bisexuality, she is instead described as just being a lesbian all along, or worse, having been “turned gay”—which is even more disheartening.

While it is clear that the world is not the same as it was twenty or thirty years ago when it comes to acceptance, we still have a long way to go. All members of the queer community still have to face external biases against their orientation, internalized homophobia, transphobia, and more; however, there is a double-edged sword that bisexuals face between those inside their community and those outside of it. The stereotypes that come along with the orientation led others to mistrust them, and it negatively affects their ability to have stable relationships. Only through changing the script when we represent the LGBTQ+ community can we come closer to a world where we not only accept, but also truly celebrate, all identities.