Short Bisexual Queen Writes the Happy Ending the Gays Deserve


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Casey McQuiston reimagines (and saves) queer romance literature in her first novel, “Red, White, and Royal Blue.”

In an effort to unlearn and unsubscribe from heteronormative narratives typically found in literature and media, I have tried to be more intentional about engaging in queer stories about love.

I got off on the wrong foot in the beginning, buying into the hype surrounding mainstream, yet depressing stories, like “Call Me By Your Name” and “Blue Is The Warmest Color.” I was beginning to find myself unhappy with how tragedy seemed to be at the forefront of queer love in media, and the lack of queer stories with happy endings and hopeful insights about actually finding love.

That was, until this past summer, when my friends introduced me to author Casey McQuiston and her debut political romance drama novel “Red, White, & Royal Blue,” and I knew I had finally found the queer love story I was looking for all this time.

“Red, White, & Royal Blue” weaves an amazing tale about the driven yet rebellious Alex Claremont-Diaz—the son of the first woman to become President of the United States in the fictionalized world of the book—and his strange lifelong vendetta against England’s Prince Henry of Wales.

After a PR nightmare at the biggest social gathering of the year, Alex and Henry are forced to act like best friends for the public eye in order to salvage the reputations of both their families. Through this stunt, the two form an unlikely friendship, and fall in love with each other.

Without spoiling too much on how the rest of the story plays out, just know that when McQuiston released this novel this summer, she saved queer literature. In the end, Alex comes to terms with his bisexuality, all of his friends and family members are extremely accepting of his coming out, and, despite the rest of the world trying to pull them apart, can sweetly be with the boy he loves.

I couldn’t help but shed multiple tears when reading this book, because it genuinely made me so happy to see everything work out.

“I think that we all are looking for some escapism because the world is a really dark, scary place right now,” McQuiston said in an interview with The Spectator. “And I think we’re all looking for something that’s bright and optimistic and hopeful that can kind of give us somewhere to escape to for a minute and I think that’s a big part of what people love about this book regardless of who they are.”

McQuiston’s book gained positive critical review and also created a cult following amongst the queer community this summer. She went on a short book tour over these past few months promoting “Red, White, & Royal Blue,” and I was so excited that I was able to catch her when she came to Elliott Bay Book Company last week.

After making a few jokes about being short and bisexual with a glass of red wine in hand, McQuiston performed a short reading of an excerpt from the book before opening up a Q&A with the audience. She spoke about how writing with ADHD has given her an unconventional writing style, constantly jumping back and forth between scenes and characters.

When asked about her favorite stories growing up, and the inspiration to create her own story, she revealed her obsession with romantic comedies and Harry Potter fanfiction.

“I was a huge rom com fan my whole life, and I still love [them]. My favorite movies growing up were always rom- coms and like, those big escapist moments—you know, the music swells and everything’s perfect and the kiss happens at the exact right moment and to the exact right circumstances and it’s beautiful, amazing—and I never really got to see that as a queer person,” McQuiston said.

These kinds of happy endings, she said, are really important for young LGBTQ+ readers to see. She said that in her experience, it’s possible that seeing a book like that could have healed much of the internalized homophobia and emotional struggle that comes from growing up queer.

“Even as things have gotten better, it’s still very common to have your favorite gays murdered on your favorite TV show,” McQuiston said. “Frankly, I find it very boring. It’s very predictable at this point. It’s not interesting, you know? So, I was like, ‘Fuck you. I’m gonna write a happy ending.’”

As a queer novel, McQuiston also took great care to make it appeal to members of the LGBTQ+ community—she used gay lingo, queer- coded mannerisms like the classic gay keyboard smash, and she even drew astrological charts for her characters. For those wondering, the two leads are Aries sun, Aries moon and Leo rising; and Pisces sun, Taurus moon and Virgo rising (Yeah, I KNOW).

She speaks about the complexity of the “new adult” as a genre, a genre that serves a group of readers that rarely see internet-informed, politically engaged an unabashedly dorky characters that represent those on the cusp of adulthood that so many negotiate.

A celebration of queer culture, a beautiful work that engages a gorgeous use of imagery and emotional depth, and a cute ass romantic comedy with a lovable cast of relatable young adult characters, this novel is the epitome of empowering fiction

“It’s not a book about queer suffering, it’s a book about queer joy. It’s joy, in general, but it’s like also joy that is specifically queer, which I think is really something that I wanted to put out into the world.”

Frances may be reached at [email protected]