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“Just as You Are” Is the Gayest Rom-Com I’ve Ever Read

When I first heard about Camille Kellogg’s Just As You Are, all I knew was that it was a Pride and Prejudice retelling / rom-com set in queer media. As someone who works in queer media and reads almost exclusively queer com-coms, I knew I needed to get my hands on this book ASAP. I thought it’d be pretty standard enemies-to-lovers, maybe have some big reveal towards the end where the characters almost don’t end up together, but then (of course) they do. I’m so grateful I was wrong. Yes, all those things happen, but Kellogg’s debut is so much more than your average rom-com.

Let’s dive in, shall we? Liz works at The Nether Fields, a queer magazine on the verge of collapse. In the novel, the publication is the fifth-most popular queer women’s online magazine, described in the novel “like Autostraddle, but smaller. And less profitable.” I wanna know what those other three magazines are that separate us from The Nether Fields. Also, I don’t think we’re that profitable! But I digress.

Liz is responsible for the sex, relationship, and advice columns at the publication, though what her roommates (and coworkers, because she lives with her coworkers which definitely doesn’t feel messy at all) don’t know is that she also runs a fictional blog: “Confessions of a New York Dyke”, which I would devour if it existed IRL. Liz’s plan, once the magazine shutters for good, is to finally tackle her own Great Gay Novel. However, the best laid plans do fall apart, and Liz’s plan is more of a vague concept at best.

Bailey Cox, a millionaire real estate lesbian (and former Smith grad) steps in to save the magazine. And by “save the magazine”, I mean she buys it as a sole individual with the intention of turning a profit. Along with Bailey comes her fellow former Smithie and current best friend, Daria, a butch investment banker who is also very hot. Daria’s less than enthused about Bailey’s latest investment. Liz’s first interaction with Daria is about butt plugs, and not in a sexy way, just in an embarrassing, “I can’t believe I just said that to my boss” way. Later, Liz overhears Daria calling her an “asinine fluff piece writer”, thus confirming Liz’s worst fears about herself.

Just As You Are is a full-on enemies-to-lovers romance that exudes queerness at every possible turn. From the pithy opening line, “Everyone knows that when you throw a dinner party for a bunch of lesbians, at least half of them will be vegan”, to the TomboyX and Doc Martens references, it’s clear this book was written by a queer person, for a queer person. The Nether Field’s office rooms are named after different gay celebrities (the Kiyoko Kitchen is a personal fav), we get a whole sentence dedicated to Daria’s “long, agile looking fingers” — I mean, the fact that Liz and Daria interact almost exclusively via Instagram Stories for a good part of the novel, each posting something for the other to see without ever actually messaging each other — that’s gay! This whole book is gay!

With Just As You Are, Kellogg has made me feel so seen. I recognize that I’m more than just a little biased. I live in Liz’s neighborhood, I work at Autostraddle, and like Liz, I’ve used Instagram Stories as a way to project into the mind of my crush. But even without any of that, Kellogg’s references to queer pop culture feel like a shared language that only exists among queer people. I don’t know if a straight person would enjoy this book the same way that queer person would — and that’s okay. This is for us.

My only criticism is that, at times, the novel feels a little white. In it, Crown Heights is lauded for its diversity, but there’s no mention of the rapid gentrification the neighborhood is facing. There are several characters of color, but sometimes, their identities are explicitly identified in a way that feels almost like a performative checking of boxes.

All that aside, this novel is a fun read and also, Autostraddle is mentioned in it! A lot! Thanks, Camille Kellogg! Whether you’ve ever wanted to fuck your boss, or just want a queer rom-com that’s surprisingly substantial, Just As You Are fits the bill.


Just As You Are by Camille Kellogg is out now.

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ashni

Ashni is a writer, comedian, and farmer's market enthusiast. When they're not writing, they can be found soaking up the sun, trying to make a container garden happen, or reading queer YA.

ashni has written 48 articles for us.

3 Comments

  1. After reading this review I went out and bought the book and gobbled it up immediately. So fun and, yes, so gay. Thanks for writing about it, I probably would have missed it otherwise!!

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