I didn’t know Corey Alexander personally but I certainly knew of them. They were a Twitter fixture—the person to go to if you were looking for a queer romance, especially if you wanted something outside the thin, cis, white, abled, M/M, monogamous, Christian, neurotypical “normal.” Corey had an extensive—and I do mean extensive—catalogue of recs. They’d read it all and were ready to offer not only enthusiastic suggestions but also caveats and trigger warnings where appropriate.
Sadly, Corey was taken from us this year, a loss felt most especially by Corey’s friends and family but also by the entire LGBTQIA community. There’s a gap where Corey’s recommendations lived.
This time of year, holiday stories flood the LGBT market, and most of them are what I described above: stories about two white cis men celebrating Christmas. I’m selling one of those stories myself. But there are so many people out there who don’t fit that mold and who also deserve a happy holiday ending.
Corey wrote as Xan West, and their story, Eight Kinky Nights, is a great example of how to celebrate human diversity during the holidays. According to the blurb, it’s a “kinky polyamorous Chanukah f/f romance [with] polyamorous, gray ace, pansexual, Jewish, fat, autistic, disabled, arthritis, PTSD and depression representation.”
It’s a bit like one of those conservative memes about diversity gone too far. “Oh, now I suppose we have to have a gay Muslim autistic amputee lol.” As if there aren’t gay Muslim autistic amputees. As if there aren’t butch lesbians who are Jewish and fat and use a cane. As if those people don’t also celebrate holidays or deserve representation and a happy ending.
Authors who write farther from the edge of “normal” don’t sell as many books. That’s the sad truth. We like to read stories about people who aren’t too different from us, celebrating the holiday we celebrate in ways similar to how our own family celebrates. Which isn’t unreasonable. Christmas stories are a form of comfort, and the familiar is comfortable. But this season, let’s all try to expand out, to widen our definition of “just like us.” Because we are all us, and those of us who don’t fit in the most typical boxes exist, are valid, and are out there celebrating too.