Queerly Loving Volumes 1 and 2 are from the publisher Queer Pack, which used to be an imprint of Ylva Publishing. They have now become their own entity and the stories collected within this two volume set focus on relationships that span the complete LGBTQ+ umbrella. From the very first story in the first volume readers will be captivated by the diversity of stories and the wonderful collection of characters that show just how big and beautiful the queer community is.
What struck me about this series in the inclusion of a number of trans stories that are included in these volumes. The T element of the LGBTQ+ community is very often under represented in the media and beyond that what does exist is often minimal. There are some elements of representation, but again there is not as much as other portions of the umbrella receive. The very first story in Volume 1, “Miss Me With That Gay Shit (Please Don’t)” is a flirty will they won’t they between Elijah and Nick. Both boys knew each other growing up, but have shifted apart. When the two start talking and spending more time together Elijah begins to wonder if Nick is flirting with him. As he continues to get in his head he starts questioning everything, while also wishing that he looked like Nick. His desire to be with and also to be like Nick makes everything more complicated and when they both attend the same party things finally come to a head in a beautifully sweet way. After I read this story I was hooked and I knew I wanted to read more.
The second story I want to highlight in Volume 1 involves two people meeting at a typing competition, “Hunt and Peck.” While Khrystyna is captivated by a boy named Bri on a rival typing team and as her feelings grow she is surprised to learn Bri is not a Brian, but a Gabrielle. Even though she has never been attracted to a girl before her feelings for Bri remain and as the two begin to fall for each other they have to contend with forces beyond their control. This story highlights an element of love stories that I adore, which is falling for someone based not on their gender, but rather on an innate desire for them. I also really enjoyed “The Fist Light of Dawn,” which is a coming out story, though the focus is more on the connection between two partners and how a partner transitioning does not change that love, but rather strengthens it.
In Volume 2, “Tenderness” specifically notes that it includes bisexual representation and shows a woman who has recently been broken up with contending with the onset of a migraine. As her head pulses, her friend Shiloh appears and ze are there to check in on them. Yes, Shiloh uses ze/zir pronouns, which is something I can say I have never read in a story before. I have heard the pronouns used and the series One Day At a Time had a minor character who used these pronouns and even included them in a title, To Zir With Love. Judith realizes while spending time with Shiloh, that ze actually love her in a way that her partner, Mara, never did. Beyond Shiloh there is also a found family that comes to support Judith and the examination of queer culture and assumed identities, which includes discussing how queer women dress. This story was so full of love and also showed how crippling migraines can be for someone dealing with one. I also periodically experience migraines and felt very connected to Judith and her attempts to work through the pain she was experiencing.
Another story focuses on attraction that rises out of learning and understanding someone, “Gasping for Air.” Mika is attracted to Tomke, but not purely due to her physical appearance. They find themselves drawn to her because the more time they spend together they more they become interested and drawn to their personality. The love they want though is not sexual, but rather platonic. Mika wants to be able to have queer focused platonic relationships, which is something they discuss with a friend at work. The idea of a relationship that is not sexually motivated is so rare and it is presented so naturally within this story. Whether you identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community or not, the stories shared within the two volumes of Queerly Loving are full of love and in a way that showcases how diverse relationships can be. You can get Volume 1 and Volume 2 from Queer Pack today.