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Cozy and Gay

by Barbara Ross
in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, at last.

In honor of the Supreme Court’s decisions this week on DOMA and Prop. 8, I’m writing about gay characters in cozy mysteries.

It’s my belief that we’ve gotten as far as we have on the issue of LGBT rights for one reason. Yes, activists have worked hard. Yes, the AIDs epidemic was a lesson to us all. But the thing I believe moved us furthest, fastest was people having the courage to come forward and make the simple declaration, “I’m gay.” Some of these people have been high profile entertainers, politicians and now even sports figures, who took their own risks. But the real heroes to me have been the neighbors, co-workers, service providers and family members, in small towns, suburbs and cities, who have made it more and more difficult for any American to say, “I don’t know anyone who’s gay.”

So I started thinking about gay characters in cozy mysteries. Cozies, sometimes called “village mysteries” usually center on a community of some sort, whether it’s an actual village or one that lives inside a city or a bigger town. If there are more openly gay people walking around our real villages, I wondered, are there more openly gay people walking around our fictional ones?

Mysteries with gay characters are nothing new. Protagonists, side-kicks, victims and perpetrators.

But I’m interested specifically in cozies. And not in stories where a character being gay is either the twist or “the thing.” Rather, in gay characters wandering through cozies as real gay people wander through all of our lives.

Here are some cozies that feature characters who happen to be gay, off the top of my head.

Cleo Coyle’s Coffee House Mysteries take place in Greenwich Village. Claire Cosi runs the Village Blend. Her employees are often aspiring dancers and actors. Her customers are neighbors. They are who they are, gay or straight. Claire’s #2 at the coffee shop, Tucker is a gay man.

Lucy Burdette’s Key West Food Critic Mysteries take place in Key West. Characters, victims and suspects may be gay or straight. Protagonist Hayley Snow’s best friend, psychologist Eric Altman is a gay man.

Wicked Cozy’s own Edith Maxwell’s Speaking of Murder also has a gay character. Protagonist Lauren Rousseau’s sister Jackie is a lesbian. Jackie’s girlfriend is (police officer) Natalia Flores.

Can you help us compile the list? if my theory is right, there should be plenty of cozies with gay characters. Again, no spoilers. Gayness shouldn’t be the twist. Just gay characters wandering through cozy villages–just like in real life.

Add books and series in the comments. Thanks!

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