Monday, January 25, 2010

M/M Romance: A Gay Man's Perspective


Today Ryan from the fabulous Wordsmithonia is visiting. I knew he would write a great post about m/m romance as soon as I read his comment on my introductory post to m/m month, and he did! Welcome, Ryan!

When Tasha was talking about doing a m/m romance theme for the month of January I have to admit I was, not necessarily surprised, but maybe a little curious about it. As a gay man it never dawned on me that there was a growing genre of books out there that are written by women for women that highlighted male/male romance and sex. To tell you the truth, I'm still a little puzzled by the whole thing. As a gay man, I know why I like reading about two (sometimes more) men in a relationship or just going at it like two horny teenagers in the back of dad's car. It's what I am, it reflects who and what I find emotionally and sexually attractive. It's easy for me to put myself in the situation I'm reading about and understand exactly what is going on. I'm still a little curious about how/why a woman is interested in the same thing.

I first started to get a inkling of straight women being interested in stories involving gay men when the US version of Queer as Folk debuted on Showtime. I had so many of my straight female friends telling me how sexy it was to watch two attractive men kissing or having sex. When I would ask them about it they would simply shrug their shoulders and say something along the lines of "We find sexy men hot, so why not two sexy men together," or "Straight guys like it when two women are together, so why should it be any different?" To be honest I never gave it that much thought because I had and still do have some odd friends so I just chalked the whole thing up to that.

false colors cover

Then about a year ago I was in Barnes & Noble, and while I was leaving two book covers on one of the new release tables caught my eye, so I stopped and picked them up. They were False Colors and Transgressions. Two things immediately caught my eye about them, one was that the covers looked like typical romance covers but they featured two highly attractive men and no women. The most striking thing to me, though, was the fact that they were written by women; and from what I read the books were aimed at straight women not gay men. I can honestly tell you that this was the very first time I had ever seen something like it; so when I got home I logged onto the Barnes & Noble book club site, went to the Romance Board, and asked about it (here is the link for that discussion). It was a long discussion but I heard some interesting comments by some women who actually write m/m romance, and they opened my eyes to the whole subject.

My hesitancy in reading these books myself is that I'm not sure a straight woman can really write a honest story about a gay, male relationship. To be honest I haven't really given them a try and they may be dead on. But as a gay man, I find it easier to read any depiction of a relationship between two men if the author is a gay man. The author is then able to write from a place that he not only understands and gets but has dealt with the same issues that characters will, including the sex scenes. To me, a gay male author will be able to write a sex scene that comes across as real since he knows all the aspects of gay sex.

Truthfully, though, I tend to go for the books that don't focus on the sex. I read more of what would be called the gay version of "chick lit": light, romantic comedy/drama with the occasional sex scene. I like books that focus on the relationship and how the couple either grows together or falls apart. Now most of my friends would tell you the opposite--they like lots of erotic scenes and the hotter they are, the better. One of my friends tends to go for the erotic anthologies over a book that actually has a plot line to it. I guess that's what makes this such an interesting genre to talk about: there are books and authors to fit everyone's taste and sensibility.

So I'm going to wrap this up with some reading suggestions for anyone interested in the m/m books I read over and over again, and a question for everyone reading this. I will go with the question[s] first--if you are a straight woman, what do you like about m/m romance books? What got you to read your first one, and what gets you to read more of them? If you write m/m romance, what set you on that path? Is there a book, author, or series you would recommend to someone like myself who hasn't taken the time to read a m/m romance written by a woman? If you are a fellow gay man, have you read any m/m books written by women; and if you did, what did you think of the perspective brought by a female author?

i'm your man

Here are two of the authors I've enjoyed in the past. Michael Thomas Ford has written a couple of stand alone novels that focus on a group of friends as they deal with new relationships and finding love in today's world, he also writes/edits erotica as well. Timothy James Beck is actually a group of four authors who have written a series of books that deal with thee same group of friends/relatives and each book tends to focus on a different person/relatioship.

last summer cover

So I will end this here by welcoming any comments you have to say. I'm really interested in hearing everyone's opinions on what I wrote and the subject of m/m romance in general. I also want to thank Tasha for the opportunity to do this guest post on her blog. I'm really honored that she asked me since she is one fantastic blogger.

Thank you so much for the fabulous guest post, Ryan! I'm planning on answering your question in my wrap-up to m/m month, but as always I'm curious to see how others answer your questions.

So what say you, lovely readers?

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