As a product of an interracial and cross cultural marriage I have come to love the beauty of interracial and cross cultural romance. The idea of meeting a different way of life as you slowly fall in love with a person has always enticed me.
Western (U.S.) media has come a long way from when Captain Kirk kissed Lieutenant Uhura (rest in peace Nichelle Nicols) in 1968. However, our stories are still significantly lacking on interracial romance were both (or more) of the characters are people of color.
Therefore today I bring to you 5 novels with romantic love stories between people of color who do not share the same ethnicity (and/or race).
As I go a bit in depth, there would be SPOILERS, so here is the list of novels:
Julián Luna and Mặt Trời Pham from Fifteen Hundred Miles From The Sun: A Novel by Jonny Garza Villa.
Ethnicities: mixed-race Mexican American & Vietnamese American.
Trope: Twitter Mutuals-to-Lovers.
You read it correctly. 15HMFTS is a novel about coming-of-age as a queer gen z teenager, which is perfectly reflected on the romance. Julián and Mặt get together before they even meet in real life.
Although the romance is not the core of the story, it is still perfectly crafted and integrates the characters' ethnicities in such a beautiful way. For example, Julián is able to win over Mặt’s mom by cooking together gỏi cuốn, and the first time they tell each other “I love you” Mặt says it in vietnamese while Julián replies in spanish.
Actually, every romantic relationship that is showcased in the novel is interracial, with the exception of Mặt’s parents.
Julián Díaz and Yadriel Vélez from Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas.
Ethnicities: mexican-cuban american & colombian american.
Trope: Reluctant allies-to-Lovers
Cemetery boys is an urban fantasy novel which for me its strongest aspect is the romance. Yadriel is a brujo (witch) who ends up being responsible for Julián, a ghost. As they discover what happened to Julián, the two end up bonding through the share struggle of being queer in a community that tentatively tolerates LGBT+ people.
My favorite scene is just before Yadriel is about to send Julián into the after-life, they buy an inmensive amount of Takis, drive to a hill to see the sunset, and share their feelings about their heritage, life and more.
Theo Mori and Gabriel Moreno from Café con Lychee by Emery Lee.
Ethnicities: chinese-japanese american & afro-puertorican
Rom-com through and through, it excels both at comedy and romance without forgetting those heart-wrenching scenes. Having to join forces after a new player in town puts both of their parent’s restaurants in jeopardy. When Theo and Gabi are able to see past the prejudices their parents had set on them a beautiful love blossoms.
My favorite scene is when Gabriel comes out to Theo and they both walk through the street as Theo tells him the good parts of being gay and they share the different ways their parents have hurt them (even if unintentionally).
Miel and Samir from When The Moon Was Ours by Anne-Marie McLemore
Ethnicities: pakistani american & brown latina (is complicated)
Trope: Childhood friends-to-lovers.
Disclaimer, I am at the middle of the novel. However, they get together (a.k.a. have sex and start having romantic feelings for each other) very early in the novel. Throughout the story as conflict arises you can see how much they care for each other, even with all the unspoken things between the two.
Although there is no scene that stands out in my mind, I love how the prose shows that they are both always subconsciously thinking about each other.
Nashit and Flávia from The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar.
Ethnicities: Afro-brazilian & bengali
Thrope: meeting at a wedding (for the second time).
I have only read 30% of the book, but I already love it.
Nashit has not-quite recently discover that she is a lesbian when she meets again Flávia, and has an instant crush on her. Her feelings had already been there but she hadn’t known about them until she met the girl for the second time (which honestly, very relatable).
My favorite part at the moment is when they are both waiting for the bus, and have a little talk about being one of the few kids of color at their Catholic school in Ireland and how it would feel to return to the country they “came from” which both have a different stance on.
Growing up, I had always loved having two cultures co-existing in the same house: eating tacos while drinking malta & learning different slangs. Although interacial romance has its ugly parts (i.e. mestizaje as a form of whitening in latin america), love can be more beautiful across cultural lines (paraphrased from Emery Lee’s dedication in Café con Lychee).
The list I share has its blind-spots. Therefore I ask you reader to share your own recommendations of cross-cultural and/or interracial non-white romances in the comments.
Ari Ochoa Petzo
is a Mexican-Venezuelan bi genderfluid writer. They like dancing to old music and history. In their free time you can find xem trying to coerce their friends to participate in another of their crazy projects.
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