In K.J. Charles’ Society of Gentlemen series the stories are steeped in time and place with the history being well researched and written. She also manages to give her m/m couples their sort of HEAs. The fact is, gay/lesbian people have been around forever and they have found ways to exist. Yes, we see what it did to Oscar Wilde, but he was also well known even at the time. People living in obscurity may have had an easier time living quietly together. Women certainly wouldn’t have had the same problem as men, since unrelated women sharing households was common. But I feel sure gay men also found ways to live.It’s up to the author to be creative enough to imagine a scenario that could work.
And the fact that we see zero Indian or black characters in most historical romances makes them as much a fantasy as people living openly gay lives, in my opinion. And personally, I’d like to see more representation in HR, and I don’t even mind if that representation is on the outside of historical accuracy. When people gobble up the “duke marries a serving girl” tropes (which made me laugh–see below**) , I don’t understand when they balk at the Indian nabob at the society gathering.
**I have to admit, I loved Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer, which is totally a “man of stature marries a girl who works in a gaming house” trope! LOL! Plus Heyer is known for both getting historic details right and whitewashing Regency England, all at the same time.