A Different Kind of Pride

“This book is so Southern, it’s like sitting down to fried chicken and sweet tea.”

Larkin Rose and I pushed our new titles “Call Me Softly” and “Kiss the Rain” as hot and extra hot, and the OutRaleigh crowd ate it up.

I tossed out key phrases to entice my customers, like “British heiress meets dashing polo player” or “family bastard and a web of secrets.” But the “fried chicken” line was the one that always got them to pull out their money.

Southerners understand food and dogs. That explains most of the colorful expressions in our language. We also understand family.

Raleigh was recently ranked third among U.S. metropolitan areas that have the highest percentage of same-sex couples with children, so it’s understandable that the Raleigh LGBT Center hosts events and meet-ups for all ages,  everything from the “Gay and Gray” to video game nights for the younger group.

Although North Carolina’s Triangle – Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill – already hosts N.C. Pride in September, the LGBT Center wanted to hold a different kind of event. Let’s face it, traditional Pride events can be a little out there with guys walking around in their underwear and stuff. OutRaleigh wanted to be a “family-friendly” event.

Center Director Bobby Hilburn said: “We were told over a year ago that this wasn’t possible – to have a LGBT festival that focuses on celebrating the many diverse families within our community.  With a dedicated KidsZone, we set out from the first day of planning to welcome all families and show a different side of our LGBT community than is typically celebrated at pride festivals.”

So … does lesbian fiction sell at a family-friendly event?  You bet!  Better than any Pride event we’ve done so far.

Because it was the first year, I wasn’t sure how big of a crowd it would draw.  Bobby said they had hoped to get a 1,000 at OutRaleigh, but it’s my home so I lured Larkin up from South Carolina to join me in setting up a Bold Strokes Books booth.

The city blocked off downtown Raleigh’s main drag and the crowd was thick and steady all day. We surpassed 1,000 visitors in the first hour. Even though the last two hours of the event were rained out, the day’s crowd totaled more than 6,000.

Larkin and I thought we had enough of our titles on hand to work several Pride events across the Carolinas this summer, but we nearly sold out of all we had at OutRaleigh, our first event that we have lined up this summer.

Besides selling our books, we handed out lots of cards promoting Bold Strokes Books and directed the guys to the BSB website for a look at our Gay offerings.

Working these events is exhausting. It means standing on your feet all day (if you want to do a good sales job) and talking until your voice is hoarse. But nothing beats the high you get from reeling in a new reader or meeting an fan who says “Oh, I’ve already got all of your books. I love’em.”

It makes you … well… proud.

The other thing that swelled my head was seeing parents’ eyes light up when I told them about the exciting new young adult titles available.

That made me really proud to be part of the Bold Strokes Books family.

Leave a Reply