LGBT Romance Spotlight: Goodreads M/M Romance Group
I’m starting a blog series about all the many wild and wonderful communities within LGBT romance, and I’m going to start with one of my personal favorites, the M/M Romance group at Goodreads. I interviewed “Moderatrix Lori,” the chief whip-wielder and head moderator.
Tell us a little about the Goodreads M/M group: how it got started, what it does, etc.
The Goodreads M/M Romance group was started on June 14th, 2009 by author Christie Gordan. I joined the group a couple of months later, hungry for someone to discuss my new found love of M/M romance with. There were only about 11 members when I joined and not much discussion going on so I sent Christie a message and asked her if she would be willing to make me a co-moderator of the group. As a busy author she was more then happy to let me have a shot at growing the group. Jen joined me as a co-moderator a few months later and not long after that we added Jase to our team. 2 1/2 years later we have over 5,300 members in the group and have added two more members to our team, Katie and Stacey Jo. Our vision for this group has always been to provide a safe place for people to discuss their love of M/M romance, talk about their lives, discuss LGBT issues, both political and social and find support among a group of people from all walks of life. It has become so much more than we ever envisioned. We have raised thousands of dollars for LGBT charities, self-published two anthologies featuring both established authors and those just getting their feet wet, produced a group video for the “It Gets Better” campaign, and provided a platform for members to question, discuss and get help with issues that affect not only the readers and writers of M/M Romance but the LGBT community at large.
Would you share with us your personal story, why this group is so important to you?
When I stumbled upon my first M/M romance, I was just blown away. I have always been a gay rights advocate but it wasn’t until I joined a LGBT friendly chorus in 2008 that I became a true activist. Now I was reading these books that were opening up a whole new world for me. I had been focusing on the rights and freedoms we sang about and advocated for but I hadn’t really thought about the personal and relationship issues that many of the members of the LGBT community faced. It really hit home for me when I realized my 18 year old son was gay and was struggling to come out. Even with a mom who was fighting the fight, he was afraid. I was so much better prepared to sit him down and talk to him about it because of the books I had been reading and the people I had met in our group. I knew in my heart that when he grieved for a life he didn’t think he could have as a gay man, that I could honestly tell him he could have it. That someday he would find that one special person, he would have that house with the white picket fence and he would have the golden retriever, the children and everything else he had ever dreamed about. It may seem silly to some that a romance book or a group dedicated to romance books could have such a profound effect on a person, but it does. We see it every day. We see that we are not alone, we see that there is hope for a better future and we see that we’re not all crazy for loving books that for some of us is something we can’t share with anybody in our real life. For some of the members in our group, it is the only place they feel safe and welcome and for that I am deeply and profoundly grateful.
What are some of your favorite features/aspects of the group?
Where to begin. The best thing about our group is that there is something for everyone. From the person who never writes a single post to the regulars who post several times a day, there is always some event, contest, reading challenge, discussion, etc..going on that is going to appeal to a member of the group. We’ve had two, very successful story writing events and are getting ready to start our third. Both have produced anthologies that we’re very proud of. Stuff My Stocking: M/M Romance Stories that are Nice and… Naughty and the multi-volume Don’t Read In The Closet anthologies have garnered widespread success. We’ve introduced readers to established authors they somehow missed and given a platform to new authors that may not have been discovered quite so quickly if not for these events. We just wrapped up the first annual M/M Romance Group Member Choice Awards where our members nominated and then voted for their favorite books in over 40 categories. The real-time chat session we had to announce the winners was well attended and so much fun. We are so fortunate that many of our members are authors whose participation in contests, chats and discussions truly make our group a special and unique place. I also love our creative and fun reading challenges which not only help you decide what to read but also help you discover books you may never have found on your own. We have the greatest group of gay men who willingly share the intimate details of their love life in our Gayology 101 discussions. These threads are designed to answer those burning questions we all have and to help authors work out the mechanics of some of those hot love scenes we’re all so fond of. Another very popular feature in our group is Jase’s Discounts & New Releases. Jase spends hours each day scouring the internet, following blogs and newsletters and keeping his finger on the pulse of what’s new, what’s coming up and where the sales and discounts are.
In addition to all that, we’re a family. We have the most thought provoking discussions and honest dialogue of any group I’ve ever been a part of. We treat each other with kindness and respect and we let our members lead the way into areas that matter the most to them. We also have a lot of fun and try not to take ourselves too seriously. Most of all, we have a lot of heart and I think that becomes evident as soon as you join.
Heidi’s personal note: Authors and readers alike—there is no replacement for this group. Discussions have become heated at times, and like all good families we have our dramas, but nowhere on the internet is there a comparable hub of m/m romance discussion and information. I stumbled into it shortly after my first book came out, and somewhere in the archives is my almost tearful exclamation of, “I have found my spiritual home!”
Visit the M/M Goodreads group today and see if it might not be your home too.