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March 23rd, 2007

1:03 AM

Slashy stuff

It occurs to me the other day that with the popularity of M/M romances, I haven't heard much from gay guys about these books. Do they like this? Many M/M romances published today are by women although some try to be ambiguous when it comes to their pen names.

I've heard a lot from female readers about M/M so now I'm curious about what the guys may think, especially when it comes to the depiction of emo melodramatic gay guys and all in those stories. I do know of some guys who don't think highly of slash fanfiction because it makes them feel as if a vital part of them is being sexualized/trivialized for the entertainment of women who may one day outgrow their slash "phase". There are also some hardcore/radical gay guys whose attitude borders on misogyny at times - they dislike Rent because they hated those teenage girls clogging up the place and squealing about how cute the principal players are and  they dislike visiting TV forums for shows like Queer As Folk only to find silly girls quarreling about who Brian Kinney should end up with. I wonder if such attitude exists towards the current crop of M/M romances.

Do gay guys enjoy M/M romance written by women? Do they find these romances real enough or do they believe those women know nothing about how gay guys really think and feel? I don't expect I will ever come across research data on what gay men think of M/M stuff written by women anytime soon but I am most interested to know. Is the current M/M stuff, like slash fiction, catering almost exclusively to female readers? Can gay men relate to these stories even a little bit? Hmm.

30 user comments.

Posted by D.J. Manly:

I look forward to the day when we can completely get rid of these labels all together. Love is just love, it doesn't matter what biological sex the characters are. If a story is well written and the reader can relate to it on some level...beautiful. As for what gay men men think of women writing stories which feature gay men falling in love and having sex...if love is held by the author above all things...no matter who is doing the loving...then why would there be a problem? Respect, dignity and the inability to accept any compromise when it comes to equality is the number one priniciple. Not all readers will like a story...not all people..gay..straight or purple are exactly the same. Writing is fiction...which means it's fantasy...but that doesn't mean certain principles shouldn't be respected. This is an old argument and it's a tautology...goes round and round. Can men write women characters? Can White write Black...?? It all comes down to heart rather than head...and a hell of a lot of talent.
Thanks. D.J. :)
February 10th, 2008 @ 6:42 AM

Posted by Dusk:

David wrote:

". . . catergories based on the romantic/sexual dynamics of the main characters in the story: m/f, m/m, f/f, m/f/f, m/m/f, m/m/m, f/f/f, etc. We'll have no need for pesky genres like romance, mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, etc., as long as we know the slash configuration."

*Ahem*. This has already happened.

Why do I suspect that you don't visit erotica forums? :) M/M has been in use there for quite a while (since at least 1994, according to the posts I'm turning up in Google Groups) to signify a gay pairing involving two adult men. It's used at ASSGM, among other places (this being the largest newsgroup for gay porn). I rather suspect that the slash community stole the term from the erotica community, or else there must have been a parallel development.

I agree that it would be nice to have m/f as well as m/m. In communities where m/m stories and m/f stories are equally likely to occur, this actually happens - as Ms. Jones pointed out, it occurs in the fan fiction community.

"Renault, Sherman, & of course,
Proulx - not to mention the others I'd previously listed. To my knowledge, none of these authors expressed any problems with having their stories associated with the gay label, rather than requiring the m/m moniker be applied."

Well, Renault certainly didn't call her Ancient Greek characters gay. :) I apply the term homoerotic to my historical fantasy stories because my stories are set in worlds that have a different concept of sexual orientation than ours does. Gay has a whole bunch of implications of fixed orientation that just isn't applicable to some other places and eras. Since a goodly amount of m/m works are non-contemporary, this may be part of the reason some authors choose that terminology.

However, my leather stories are gay. Period.
May 5th, 2007 @ 12:53 PM

Posted by Dusk:

Coming in late. . . . I edit True Tales: An Erotic E-zine of Masculinity and Power, which has published slash writers. It has also published gay leather writers, who produce the most masculinity-oriented stories in gay literature. I've marketed the e-zine to both communities, and as far as I can tell from who's signing up for updates, it's been equally successful in both communities.

Of course, what this reflects is that my tastes are on the soft end of leather and on the hard end of slash. But I do think that there's a crossover area between slash erotic fiction and gay erotic fiction that attracts readers from both communities.
May 5th, 2007 @ 12:52 PM

Posted by Sarah Frantz:

This thing is, I hardly ever read SF/F at all, unless you hold a gun to my head or I've liked the author's other stuff a LOT. I'll read it if it's obvious to me that the story is really about the romance, not about the world building. So I can't comment from that direction at all. So I think going with what Jules has said so eloquently, it's all about the guy cooties, rather than the gay cooties--what a difference a vowel makes. I HAVE read some of Alyson's recent anthologies, and what I'm looking for there are stories in which the characters break boundaries for themselves, which counts for me as emotional content. And I guess on a larger scale, that's what emotional content is all about: breaking boundaries. I'm not being very coherent.

I will say again, however, that I absolutely think individual men can write emotion: Matthew Haldeman-Time being the best example I can come up with. However, in general, I don't read male authors, because as a whole, their female characters suck and they can't write a proper romance. Vast generalization warning there!

FWIW, the characters of most of the m/m romances I read are unabashedly gay, rather than deluded or straight but not narrow. So they certainly consider themselves gay.
April 1st, 2007 @ 4:30 AM

Posted by Jules Jones:

I can certainly understand the small press problems -- look at who's publishing the gay romances right now. Not the big New York publishers, including the one that actually has a gay literature imprint. It's the epublishers, the ones who can afford to take a chance, and the ones who aren't affected by the choice of individual bookshops or chains on whether or where to stock gay romance. I've seen this from personal experience, as The Syndicate was in Loose Id's pilot print programme. It's sold significantly more copies of ebooks through LI's own website than it has in print, even allowing for the ebook having been out for a year longer. And I see the het books from Loose Id in the romance section in my local Borders, but my book is classed as gay erotica, or gay and lesbian studies. At least it sells slowly but steadily through Amazon.

[looks at booklist] You are a bad, bad man. I already have a TBR stack *this* high, and I'm going to the local secondhand bookshop this morning to hunt for out of print gay regencies for someone...

David -- there's a discussion going on somewhere else about GLBT sf romance that you might be interested in. I think it's a group where anyone can read, but only members can post. Email me for the details, and I'll forward comments for you if you want.
March 31st, 2007 @ 1:51 AM

Posted by Jules Jones:

David, it read to me not as if you were expanding the discussion to a general discussion of gay-themed books, but expanding the specific claim that women think that books by gay men lack emotional depth; expanding it from erotica and romance to all books. So I was responding to that claim. It's quite possible that a lot of women think that, but the "by women, for women" thing is in my experience largely about material with erotic content, whether softcore or hardcore. And I think that really is "men can't write emotion" rather than "gay men can't write emotion", with a large helping of "publishers think men won't read emotion in their smut" on top. Some women from slash fandom are aware of the latter because they know gay men in slash fandom who bitch about that problem.

As for the dearth of good gay literature -- I can't really comment, because my reading is strongly skewed to science fiction and fantasy, and always has been. And while the sf genre has its share of homophobia, it also has a good many books with sympathtic bi and gay characters who are allowed to lead normal lives. Not necessarily blissfully happy lives, but only because any character is going to have problems if they are to be an interesting character in a book, not because gay characters have to be shown to be punished for being gay. So I was reading books like Arthur C Clarke's Imperial Earth in my early teens, without even particularly noticing at the time the subtext of bi and gay being considered normal.
March 31st, 2007 @ 1:51 AM

Posted by David:

Schiefelbein, Michael Blood Brothers
Schiefelbein, Michael Vampire Vow
Seabrook, Mike All of his books
Thorogood, Stuart Outcast
Thorogood, Stuart Outside In
Virga, Vincent Gaywyck
Wood, Nick Light Out
March 30th, 2007 @ 10:55 PM

Posted by David:

A list of a few gay books by gay/small presses in the past 30+ years that I think have as much emotional depth as presented in some m/m books being published today. (Caveat: Some of these I have not read in years, but I think they met my criterea.)

Bayard, Louis Fool's Errand
Boyd, Eric Mike & Me
Craft, Michael All of his mystery novels
Curlovich, John Michael Blood Prophet: A Novel
Curlovich, John Michael The Blood of Kings : A Novel
Delaney, Dylan Neil
Eakins, William K. Key West 2720 A.D.
Edenbridge, Guy Brotherhood
Elliott, Ben Gladiator School
Ellis, Edward Greek Way, The
Fall, Christian King's Men, The
Fox, Brandon All of his books
Gilbert, Peter Last Taboo, The
Gordon, Jack Dark Rider
Grey, Dorien All of his books
Grimsley, Jim All of his books
Hale, Keith Cody
Harris, Christopher Theodore
Harrison, Don Alexandrian Drachma, The
Harrison, Don Lion Warriors
Harrison, Don Spartan
Howard, Larry Lions' Den, The : a novel
Hunter, Fred Government Gay
Hunter, Jeff Conquistador
Hunter, M. S. Buccaneer: etc.
Ingham, Anthea Sebastian's Tangibles
Iversen, Cap The Dakota Series
Jensen, Michael Firelands : A Novel
Jensen, Michael Frontiers
Johnson, Toby Secret Matter
Kasting, Peter Journey of a Thousand Miles
Kluger, Steve Changing Pitches
Kraus, Krandall Love's Last Chance
Kraus, Krandall President's Son: A Novel, The
Lanyon, Josh A Dangerous Thing
Lanyon, Josh Fatal Shadows
Lardo, Vincent Prince and the Pretender
Lear, James Low Road, The
Lear, James The Back Passage
Lefcourt, Peter Dreyfus Affair : Love Story, A
Mackle, Elliott It Takes Two: A Novel
MacLennan, Alex The Zookeeper : A Novel
Mains, Geoffrey Gentle warriors
Maltese, William All of his books
McMahan, Jeffrey N. Vampires Anonymous
Merrick, Gordon All of his books
Moore, Patrick Iowa
Morris, Gavin Virginia Bedfellows
Myers, John L. Holy Family
Pierce, David M. Elf Child
Plakcy, Neil S. Mahu
Schiefelbein, Michael Blood B
March 30th, 2007 @ 10:55 PM

Posted by David:

A reader of romance/erotica (het, of course) is presented with 5 or more new titles every week from NYC publishers. How many books does Alyson publish annually? 20? 30? Some of these are the anthologies of stories that may have already been published in a variety of skin magazines. Because publishing is a business that has seen some hard times, mainstream publishers are not willing to publish books they think would appeal to a minority of readers. Even more, small publishers are reluctant to publish books that they think might not appeal to their core market. Alyson is just following such logic.

As to trek, well, please do not blame gay men for the actions of straight trek nerds!! :) Actually, I know many gay men (myself included) who watched Star Trek, but none that I know got so involved in it as to go to the conventions. I am not saying there are no gay trekkies at cons, but I think we would be in the minority at those cons. While SF/F has this aura of breaking new boundaries, it has been very heterosexual. And when you get a lot of unsocialized males who are insecure about themselves, the last thing they want is for anyone to question their sexuality; thus is born the hyper-heterosexuality one can see in many of the 50's pulp SF stories. I think that even today these insecure male trekkies would reject any type of slash fiction, just because it might call into question their sexuality.
March 30th, 2007 @ 10:52 PM

Posted by David:

Jules,

Actually in my last post, I was expanding my discussion to include any and all "gay books," not just those one would classify as romance, erotica, or pornography. A more boarder view of stories with gay male protagonists, that did not contain explicit sex. I guess my attempt to expand the discussion is not interesting. :)

Yes, I've heard the complaint about the dearth of emotional content of gay erotic novels from women. Personally, I don't read a lot of short stories as I perfer novels. Alyson and other gay publishers have published anthologies of gay erotica; however, I've not recently read any, so can't comment on their lack of emotional content. However, I think there have been many gay novels, that have been published by small/gay presses, which provide as much, or even more, emotional depth as is found in the average m/m e-book. (see list in nest post)

I could imagine a complaint that there has not been enough good gay books. This I can get behind, but that is not something that is new to me. I grew up reading books that did not have any gay protagonists, much less identifiable positive gay characters. It was not that long ago that it was illegal in some states (and still is in several countries) to publish/sell books with positive gay characters, much less explicit gay sex. While there has been progress on many fronts, one must remember that coming out as a teenager in the 70's was rare. Most either remained in the closet for decades, or after they left home/college. I won't bore you with a history lession, but suffice it to say that the identifiable market for gay books was not (and is still not) sufficient to support more than a handfull of small publishers.

A reader of romance/erotica (het, of course) is presented with 5 or more new titles every week from NYC publishers. How many books does Alyson publish annually? 20? 30? Some of these are the anthologies of stories that may have already been published in a variety of skin magazines. Be
March 30th, 2007 @ 10:41 PM

Posted by Chaz:

David -

The new series - collectively "Selling Water by the River", individually "Bridge of Dreams" and "River of the World" - does have a couple of gay characters, but neither of them is a lead or a point-of-view (oh, and there's something else about them that I am so not going to tell you...). Theirs is very much a sub-plot, drawn by inference.
March 30th, 2007 @ 3:56 AM

Posted by Jules Jones:

Some of the history behind this is that modern slash fandom in part grew out of Trek fandom. A lot of women who got into science fiction fandom via Trek found themselves marginalised by male sf fans, who even to this day often have a terror of being contaminated by girl cooties. "That's not real sf. That sucks. We don't want to read it. You shouldn't be allowed to write it." "Well, we didn't write it for _you_. It's by women, for women, and we're not going to stop just because it makes men feel uncomfortable." It is in fact a reaction to exactly the same sort of marginalisation you're concerned about, but directed against women rather than gays. "So where you're hearing "gays keep out", what's being said (in some cases at least) is, "Even if you try to keep women out, we'll still be doing our thing over here, and you can't stop us."

It occurs to me that I should add that in my fandom there were a number of straight men who read and enjoyed m/m slash, even if they preferred f/f. Their attitude was that a good story's a good story, and they can always mentally edit the pink bits. And there were a lot of bi and gay women on the fanfic mailing list. So I personally am used to thinking of my target audience being predominantly but not exclusively female, and far from exclusively "straight women, gay men".
March 30th, 2007 @ 12:57 AM

Posted by Jules Jones:

Take a look at the thumbnail descriptions of the recent sales on my website:
http://www.julesjones.com/fiction/fiction.html

"gay romance" appears fairly frequently -- though not on everything, in part because not everything is romance. And the one het story is labelled m/f, not straight or het. When I started that page, I listed stuff as m/f, m/m etc because that's the system I was used to from fanfic. (And god help you if you had icky het in your slash and failed to warn people of the contamination...) Now I also add "gay romance" -- when I remember. Because I have to specifically remember, because it's not the terminology I'm used to. And I still have the m/m label, to make it clear that it's gay male and not gay female.

(Apologies for the advertising, Mrs G. But it's the easiest way to give a specific example.)

"By women, for women" yes. But look at the flip side. There are plenty of men, gay and straight, who are quite vocal about not wanting to read erotica written by women, because women insist on dragging mushy emotions in and spoiling the sex. To which the response from many women is, "Tough noogies. We didn't write it for _you_." I am enormously glad that there are gay men like yourself who read and enjoy the gay romances I write. But the guys who complain that there's too much touchy-feely stuff? I didn't write it for _them_. I wrote it for other women, and the men who do enjoy a good mushy romance.

Some of the history behind this is that modern slash fandom in part grew out of Trek fandom. A lot of women who got into science fiction fandom via Trek found themselves marginalised by male sf fans, who even to this day often have a terror of being contaminated by girl cooties. "That's not real sf. That sucks. We don't want to read it. You shouldn't be allowed to write it." "Well, we didn't write it for _you_. It's by women, for women, and we're not going to stop just because it makes men feel uncomfortable." It is in fact a reaction to exactly t
March 30th, 2007 @ 12:56 AM

Posted by Jules Jones:

David, I think it would be more accurate to say that the "by women for women" thing is because women (and remember that bi and gay women also read m/m slash and profic) feel that the erotica books published by gay male presses for gay men are lacking in the emotional depth that they are looking for. That's a lot more specific than "written by gay men", and it's a complaint some gay men have as well -- think about one of the stated reasons Scott&Scott have for setting up Romentics.

And as a generalisation -- yes, it's male authors, not gay male authors, who are often seen by women as being incapable of writing books with emotional depth. Witness the number of men writing in the straight romance field who use a female pseudonym, and with good reason. What you're seeing with "by women, for women" is largely a male cooties problem rather than a gay cooties problem. Which is a problem in its own right, of course.

My experience as an author is that a lot of women thought that Alex Woolgrave (my writing partner and I) were gay men -- and *liked* the idea of two gay men writing gay romance. From what I see on the loops, the writers who really are gay men are very popular. Back in my fanfic days, my fandom had two men nominated for the STIFfies (the slash fanfic awards), and the people who nominated and voted for them knew very well that they were men.

Continued...
March 30th, 2007 @ 12:55 AM

Posted by David:

Cont....

There are many "gay novels" which include sex that have fully developed characters who are are emotionally connected with another character. This is not personally directed to you Sarah, but why do het women have this perception that "gay books" written by gay men (or women, as shown above), about gay men (no matter the genre), do not provide any of the emotional depth that only het women writing about two men in a homosexual relationship can provide? Is this generalization not limited only to gay men, but to all male authors? Is this the basis for the aversion to calling a book about two men in love a "gay book," or do female authors know that their female readers don't read "gay books" and calling them "m/m" makes the homosexual content more acceptable?

I do not think that all female writers of "m/m" material take this position; however, I've seen it posted so many times as to the reason why het women do not read gay fiction that I must think this anecdotal evidence has some basis in fact.
March 29th, 2007 @ 11:39 PM

Posted by David:

Sarah,

You're the first person here (I think) to admit that m/m specifically refers to stories written by women for women about men involved in a homosexual relationship. I've been getting the feeling from the discussion that most heterosexual women are much more comfortable in calling such books m/m, rather than gay _______.

However, I must contest your definition that "gay novels" are written by gay men for "whomever." I can think of many self-described "gay novels" written by women, not only in contemporary lit, but in the SF/F genre: Warren, Argiri, Arnason, Barker, Cherryh, Cooke, Duane, Fancher, Keegan, Kerr, Lynn, McHugh, Monette, Patton, Renault, Sherman, & of course, Proulx - not to mention the others I'd previously listed. To my knowledge, none of these authors expressed any problems with having their stories associated with the gay label, rather than requiring the m/m moniker be applied.

Your definition seems to relate to the position that many het women have on this subject. Novels written by gay men (featuring gay male protags) lack the emotional depth that can only be found in m/m stories written by het women. While most argue this is the case in the area of pornography (what many euphemistically call erotica today), many do not make any such distinction. For the record, a novella-length story that includes an explicit sex scene in every chapter would be stroke fiction. The fact that the characters express some emotion/love for one another for one page of text before they have sex, does not raise the story above some of the stroke fiction one can find on nifty.

There are many "gay novels" which include sex that have fully developed characters who are are emotionally connected with another character. This is not personally directed to you Sarah, but why do het women have this perception that "gay books" written by gay men (or women, as shown above), about gay men (no matter the genre), do not provide any of the emotional depth that only he
March 29th, 2007 @ 11:38 PM

Posted by Sarah Frantz:

Don't know if anyone's still reading this, but part of my issue with calling books about two men in a relationship, written by women, for a mostly female audience, "gay" rather than "m/m" is that I feel that "m/m" indicates that it's by women for women, rather than by a gay man for an audience of whomever. To me "gay" would indicate written by a gay man and I would expect different generic considerations. I'd call the Romentic books "gay romance" because they're written by two gay men. I have no problem calling Matthew-Haldeman Time's "Off the Record" a "gay romance" (and incidentally, one of the best pure romances I've EVER read), because I assume Matthew is a gay man. But I feel my heterosexual privilege too much to try to label anything I might write about two men falling in love as a gay romance. Maybe I should get over myself. The labelling is certainly not conscious homophobia.
March 29th, 2007 @ 9:28 PM

Posted by Jules Jones:

I see the Masked Editor has been past and said pretty much everything I was going to say... :-)

David, not sure if Chaz's latest has a gay character, but I can ask him -- or indeed you can, as he's on LiveJournal, which is where I know him from.
March 28th, 2007 @ 12:58 PM

Posted by Raven:

(And I apologize. I had no idea how long that was going to turn out to be! My kingdom for a preview option and word-count meter.)
March 28th, 2007 @ 9:43 AM

Posted by Raven:

It wouldn't bother me at all if publishers made an additional heading for het stories, right along with the heading for GLBT. (I think a few actually do.) That seems fair, and I can see why having a heading for GLBT (or gay, or m/m, or whatever terminology us being applied) can be aggravating when an equal designation for het stories is not made. It can feel like it implies that het is the norm and everything else is "other" and needs a label. Thing is, I could say exactly the same thing about books being listed under "BBW" or "Full-Figured." It could imply to me that this is other, that skinny heroines are normal and so don't need a heading, while the non-skinny girls need a label. Were I so inclined, that could bother the hell out of me. As could perceiving that only submissive or culturally mainstream heroines are normal and so only the dominant ones need a label. Instead, what I see is that these are specific points of interest for many people and so benefit from headings that help readers find them. So while it wouldn't bother me if publishers wanted to make everything completely balanced and thus put in headings for skinny heroines, purely heterosexual couples, heroines who conform to the unspoked cultural standards of female behavior, and so on, I admit that I don't see it as necessary -- and I don't automatically infer a prejudice when the publishers don't, in fact, include these additional headings (content listings, genres, categories, whatever terminology chosen).
March 28th, 2007 @ 9:42 AM

Posted by Raven:

Frankly, it would suit me no end to have a content heading specifically for dominant/alpha women and their almost-but-not-quite-as-alpha men who really, really like to do what they're told and yet aren't 24/7 subbies, and neither is really involved in the rules and strictures of the BDSM life. Realistically, I don't expect to see that heading pop up anytime soon. I know to go find the general BDSM heading and start narrowing my search from there. The fact that these tend to end up with their more specific content info calling them "femDom" doesn't mean anything other than that there is a dominant female in the book. It doesn't presume to try to classify or choose from the variations possible with that content, any more than an "m/m" note denotes anything other than that there is male-male content. Publishers can (and should) only get so specific. They list the basic content points of most interest and let the readers decide for themselves what flavor they feel that content is.

In terms of what counts as real yaoi, or "real gay relationships," or real D/s, or whatever, the only person really qualified to make those calls is the reader. I've read so-called D/s that was obviously pretty racy to the author and to me was more like what I'd see in twenty minutes on the downtown tram. I've read so-called gay romance that to me was pure stroke fic between two men in complete denial, and gay mysteries that were to me gay romance. If the publisher presumed to label these beyond the basic "BDSM" or "m/m," it bothered me, as they slapped it with a label that ended up not matching how I perceived the story when I read it. If they just identified that the story had BDSM or m/m content, I went into it with eyes open, knowing that basic content was present but without operating under a belief that there was some specific flavor of that content. I didn't always end up liking the story, but I also didn't feel misled.


It wouldn't bother me at all if publishers made an additio
March 28th, 2007 @ 9:42 AM

Posted by Raven:

In no way do I think that heterosexual pairings are somehow more deserving of being assigned genre labels while any homosexual content should be relegated to an m/m category regardless of story type (and I'm guessing the question of whether I do was not intended to be offensive, as this thread and discussion have been admirably civil). From a perspective of practicality, it makes sense to go from broad terms (LGBT & Polyamory) to more specific info (m/m, f/f, f/m/f, etc.), while not presuming to use that info to impart any more than actual content. "M/m" says there is sexual content between two males; that's it. It doesn't say it's yaoi, or a gay novel, or a story about one man who's openly gay and his budding relationship with a man who's just starting to accept his own orientation and doesn't identify himself as gay, or any other of the numerous variations possible with m/m content.

The same applies equally to stories with female-female content. And poly content. And for other content headings. The BDSM & Fetish heading tells me the stories listed have some element of the broad range addressed by that heading. There's no dividing the stories with het content from the stories with f/f content from the stories with m/m content, and so on. There's no dividing the stories about het pro Dommes with subbies who don't yet consciously identify as submissive, from the stories about non-pro Doms with five submissives and two slaves who hang on his every command, from the stories about three friends who realize they all have a leather fetish. They all go under the broad content heading because having a heading for each could, just as with those under the LGBT/Poly heading, go on forever. If a reader wants to know more, they click the book and see the specific content info listed. It's pure practicality. Frankly, it would suit me no end to have a content heading specifically for dominant/alpha women and their almost-but-not-quite-as-alpha men who really, really like to do
March 28th, 2007 @ 9:41 AM

Posted by Raven:

David, you're absolutely right regarding categories. I used the wrong wording, or at least explanation, in my comment. In fact, the publisher I work for doesn't even use categories. There are genres: action adventure, fantasy, paranormal, historical, etc. This way, if a reader likes time travel stories, they (I won't presume to use "he" or "she") can look up that genre and have their pick. The stories listed under each genre heading are not divided by content; the stories with m/f content are listed right alongside those with m/m content, which is right alongside those with m/f/m and f/f and so on. And if a story is both, say, paranormal and historical, it will come up under both of those headings, as there is often crossover.

There is a separate search option for content, with listings like BDSM & Fetish, BBW, and LGBT & Polyamory. This is handy for folks with particular content tastes. As you can see, they're umbrella terms, which does keep a publisher from having to come up with a separate content heading for every variation. Just as with genres, there is crossover. The LGBT and Polyamory heading includes stories about gay men, lesbians, poly groups of various permutations, people who don't necessarily identify with a specific orientation label or are still exploring, relationships that start out as one setup (say, a het couple) and expand to a different one (say, two men and a woman), and so on. The heading allows for various content and doesn't assume that calling it all one thing is either logical or appropriate. When readers see a book that looks interesting, they can click on it and get more specifics -- a blurb, an excerpt, a line to let them know if it's menage or f/f or m/m or whatever. This allows readers the ability to find the particular content that they're interested in while not requiring (potentially infinite) separate headings for every single content type.

In no way do I think that heterosexual pairings are somehow more deserving of being
March 28th, 2007 @ 9:40 AM

Posted by David:

Oops!


PS: Chaz Brenchley is a gay British author of mystery and fantasy novels. Most of his books have a gay character, usually the main character. Several years ago, he published an alternative Crusades-type fantasy novel. In Britain it was published in three books, but the American publisher split the books into six. Collectively they are known as the Outremer series. He has a website for the series at: www.outremer.co.uk.

PPS: Not having read any het romance novels, I have no idea how Scott & Scott's novels would compare in terms of story/character development. I've read them all and IMHO they are a great beach read type of book. Their last one (Surf N' Turf) exploited gay sterotypes too much, at last for the first 75% of the book. I think if I would reccommend one, I'd suggest either Nick of Time or Spare Parts.

PPPS: If you are looking for gay romance novel, I would suggest the Charlie and Peter trilogy by Gordon Merrick, The fist book in the triliogy is The Lord won't mind, which was published in 1970. There is a HEA, but it takes 3 books for the characters to get there. I think it probably represents the best of the gay romance novel to date.
March 27th, 2007 @ 10:56 PM

Posted by David:

This thread was started by Mrs. G asking about gay men's opinions on m/m romance novels. In her first post she mentions slash fanfiction. I know some gay men read and write slash fanfiction. I have no problem with that, but I've never read much fanfic, not because I did not feel it was good, but I prefer to read stories about gay men. Slash, by its definition, takes het men and turns them gay. I much prefer to read original gay fiction -- even if it is an avatar of a previously published work -- over slash fanfic.

I think that if an author/publisher wishes to market their m/m romance books to the gay population, then it would be best if they called them gay romance novels. Will this upset/turnoff the women who are interested in homosexual content, but don't want to call it gay? I don't know.

Regardless of the tag a publisher puts on a book, the story and characters need to be fully developed. I don't mind reading a story where one (or even both) men had been leading a heterosexual life until they met each other. (I've known many men where this has been the case) However, so as not to fall into the yaoi trap, the author needs to build the case that these seemingly het men had been struggling with their attraction to men for their entire life. I just don't buy the "I'm 30 and never found another man attractive until I saw you!" Please! We are constantly being bombarded with male images to sell products that would have only been found in the AMG catalogs of the 50's/60's. Just driving around town I see billboards with AF models with nothing but their underwear on, not to mention the unsolicited catalog layouts I get in the mail! You would have to be 100% straight and dead not to find at least one of these models attractive.


PS: Chaz Brenchley is a gay British author of mystery and fantasy novels. Most of his books have a gay character, usually the main character. Several years ago, he published an alternative Crusades-type fantasy novel. In Britain it was p
March 27th, 2007 @ 10:55 PM

Posted by David:

Raven,

In regards to marketing books, I've found that several romance/erotica on-line publishers have a gay or GLBT category. Some of these even offer a yaoi category as well. A couple still use "alternative lifestyles," but that is a minority.

While I think the categories you've developed are interesting, I doubt that publishers will use them. :) However, using your logic, publishers should have catergories based on the romantic/sexual dynamics of the main characters in the story: m/f, m/m, f/f, m/f/f, m/m/f, m/m/m, f/f/f, etc. We'll have no need for pesky genres like romance, mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, etc., as long as we know the slash configuration. Is this what you are advocating? Or, do you think that heterosexual pairings in fiction is somehow more deserving of being assigned genre labels, while any homosexual content in a book regulates it to the m/m category, regardless of the type of story?

Personally, I think yaoi works, especially those that adhere to traditional yaoi rules, should be in its own category. Women you are looking for yaoi, should not have to wade through fiction that depicts real gay relationships.
March 27th, 2007 @ 10:24 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Just a gentle reminder, folks: there are people reading this fascinating and most educational discussion who aren't privy to who Chaz is or what the Outremer series are. Some people are emailing ME to explain some of the things you are discussing and I have no idea either, lol. Please try to be less meta if possible because many people are interested in this discussion - they aren't joining in but they are reading nonetheless.

David and anyone else who knows about this, I am thinking of ordering a Scott&Scott book from Amazon. Any title in particular that I should start with?
March 27th, 2007 @ 7:42 PM

Posted by Raven:

"...would argue that while yaoi deals with two male who have sex together, it should not be considered to be a gay novel."

This illustrates one of the reasons publishers and writers, as well as many readers, us "m/m" instead of "gay." To specifically say "gay" could be seen as defining the characters as gay or the story as a gay novel. Using "m/m" (along with m/f, m/m/f, m/f/m, and so on) really just indicates content. It would be impractical for most publishers to have a "gay novel" category, another for "gay erotica," another for "people with matching plumbing having sex while taking on fantasized het roles," another for "slash with the serial numbers filed off," another for "two guys having manly sex, but one's never done it with another guy before and doesn't identify himself as gay," and so on. Not only would that clog up the website and the marketing department, but it would also drive readers/buyers insane. Instead, "m/m" is used to say, "If you like two males together in some form or another, that content is in this book." Then it is assumed readers can review the blurb and the excerpt and decide for themselves if the m/m content in question suits their particular tastes, whether that be yaoi or gay literary fiction or gay BDSM or whatever.

I have no problem saying "gay." I'm not in the least reluctant to use the word. I wouldn't refer to someone as being in an "m/m relationship" unless they asked me to for some reason (honestly, I generally wouldn't refer to them being in a "gay relationship," either, unless it was specifically relevant to something -- I think plain ol' "relationship" usually covers it pretty well). I don't use "m/m" to avoid the word or because I have something against the connotations thereof. I use it in reference to written material, as an indication of a specific content point. No more, no less.
March 27th, 2007 @ 7:31 PM

Posted by David:

Anne,

I stand to be corrected, but in my post I did state that my comments were regarding "traditional yaoi." From my understanding, non-Japanese writers of yaoi have not followed all of the original yaoi conventions. Additionally, in recent years, some Japanese authors are also not adhereing to traditional conventions.
March 27th, 2007 @ 11:21 AM

Posted by David:

Oops!

As for the Outremer series, I read it because I knew Chaz had written other books with gay male characters. There is a love triangle in the series, and while it probably does not follow the romance genre guidelines, I think the main gay relationship is well-developed. I think for those who like slash fiction, they will enjoy the angst. Overall, it is a good series. I don't know if there is a gay character in his new series or not. Do you know?
March 27th, 2007 @ 11:17 AM