Few authors get my eyes to light up the way Brooklyn Ray does. What started as a friendly read for a fellow author published under NineStar Press quickly turned into a full-blown obsession. Their prose? Shakespearian. Imagery? Gorgeous. Stories? Dynamic and captivating. I can’t talk about them for more than five minutes without gushing all over the place and insisting the poor captive listener check them out. There is a catch, though: Brooklyn’s books happen to contain sex. 

Lots and lots of sex. 

That doesn’t make me any less likely to ramble about how good their books are, though. The “smutty” parts are just as beautiful as the rest of their work and I love those scenes just as much. 

Sorry, not sorry. 

As a Christian teenager in the 2000’s, I came into the confusing hellscape of puberty during the theologically bankrupt hellscape that was purity culture. We all became experts at “guarding our hearts” and doing our best to not be “stumbling blocks” (as a busty teenager, THAT was fun), but when we wondered about the actual, real-world intricacies of navigating sexuality? 

Crickets from the church. From our youth pastors. And who was about to ask their parents?

Jesus was just supposed to magically make sex great once you got married to your squeaky clean, no-sexual-baggage-having heterosexual spouse (because if you kept yourself pure that’s what God owed you, obviously). 

Surprise, surprise: As a transgender dude, that model did more harm than good. 

Enter Brooklyn Ray, along with several other remarkably talented queer writers, after I had spent years deconstructing my adolescence. For the first time, a part of me that I was either not supposed to have or was supposed to suppress was looking back at me from the pages of a book. 

And it was a beautiful thing. 

Before anyone starts clutching their pearls, I want to say that open, honest communication with both one’s partner and with themself should be the foundation of any relationship, sexual or otherwise. That, however, doesn’t boil down to sticking our heads in the sand until our one true love shows up. I refuse to be convinced that knowledge itself is evil, and what better way to learn about something so very intimate and human than through storytelling? Sex and romance are more complex and multifaceted than both the evangelical and the mainstream culture would have us believe, so it makes sense to me that sometimes we might need, or simply want, to explore those complexities in a safe environment. For me, books have always been the safest environment I know.

Often times, these books are also the only queer resources I know. 

I’m a pretty private person and I know my family reads my posts (Hi, Mom!), so no worries, dear reader. I won’t be going into any sort of detail about, well, anything (though if you want book recommendations, hit me up). All I’ll say is that there is an intimate comfort in being seen and a quiet power in allowing yourself to learn about yourself and the intricate nature of sex and relationships. Romance, including smutty romance, is unique in the way it presents such opportunities to the reader, regardless of how often the genre and its sub-categories are dismissed or villainized. 

Is romance for everyone? Nah. No genre is and that’s okay, but when done right, these books can be literary blessings as well as brilliant introspective tools, just like books in any other genre. I’m tired of it being dismissed as low-brow at best, trash at worse, especially when there are so few models of sexuality for people like me anywhere else. Heck, it’s even hard to find good queer smut most of the time. Romance, like any other genre, has its strengths and weaknesses; therefore, I love it like any other genre—sometimes better, depending on the author.

So, enjoy your Valentine’s Day, whether it be smutty, romantic, platonic, or just any other day. 

And have fun getting Sir Mix-A-Lot out of your head.

4 Comments

  1. Geneva Langeland

    New author to add to my list!

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Highly recommend starting with “Full Moon in Leo.”

      Reply
  2. Kyric Koning

    Ah, but what if our minds are song-proof?

    I’m laughing way harder than I probably should at this post, merely because of all the tangents my thoughts are going.

    Sex is a curious topic because it is at once intensely personal while being intrinsically dependent on another (we’ll leave the master debate for another time). So learning of it and about it can be weird all around. I like how you make stories a safe haven for that while also stressing understanding. Books a fount of knowledge. Using that knowledge is another thing.

    The bolded sentence is best.

    Reply
    • Avatar

      Laughter is good! I laugh about sex on the regular

      Your observation about the weirdness of the individual and the togetherness of sex puts it better than I did, I think. I don’t think any circle (secular or Christian) talks about that enough.

      Reply

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