Recently I was a bit surprised when I read another blog someone stating something to the effect of, "M/M is written by straight women for the enjoyment of other straight women."
I've heard sentiments like that before. There are plenty of reasons--and myths--about why women in particular write M/M, anything from two hunky guys in bed must be better than one, right? to getting a chance to see guys be emotionally vulnerable to seeing a relationship without the built-in differences an M/F couple has. But--only by straight women for straight women? I don't think so.
I'm a bit of an exception to the stereotypical M/M writer. I'm not straight. Big, hunky alpha males don't do a thing for me. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a fine male figure, but more as a piece of art than an object of desire. Modern dancers? Those guys from Cirque du Soleil? Oh yeah. I could watch them all day. So why write about guys if they're not my thing?I've always liked to say I blame Mercedes Lackey for getting me started on M/M. I picked up her books in college after a long period of reading nothing at all and was hooked. And then I found Vanyel and finally understood what a gay relationship really was. Then gay characters started showing up in my fiction and never went away.
So that's one reason I write M/M. The other reason is because it's the type of relationship that makes the most sense to me. It's what comes naturally when I write, though I do have some M/F relationships in my work.
And since I don't have the requisite parts or, um, access to them, I do research. I have this nice deck of cards with all sorts of gay sex positions, including threesomes. (They have one for girls, too.) There's a fun site that uses those wooden art mannequins to show all sorts of combinations. (Sadly, I can't find the link at the moment, but if I do I'll update this.)
So what does this have to do with fantasy? One reason is that we can write characters that are gay or bi or trans or omnisexual without having to deal with the constraints forced on us by society. We can create worlds where being queer isn't a point of conflict; it's just a part of who the character is. The conflict can be the relationship, or saving the world, or rescuing a child, or whatever without having to focus on the character's need to come to terms with his/her own sexual orientation, which is what happens in a lot of mainstream books.
Besides--as SF/F writers, we get to play with magic and science when it comes to sexuality. Enter Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation: The Definitive Guide to the Evolutionary Biology of Sex. This is an awesomely cool book written in the manner of anything from protozoa to bats asking sex advice Dear Abby style. It shows a huge range of sex and procreation techniques, all of which are natural and "normal," and provides some lovely story ideas.
So, for me, M/M is not about all the hot mansex (though it's certainly fun to write.) It's got story. It's got the same human issues as "straight" romance, fantasy, mystery, whatever--not just gay issues. When the sex comes, there are reasons for it other than pure lust. And while I understand why M/M is so often a separate "genre," there's a large part of me wishing it didn't have to be differentiated. It ought to belong in the romance section, because it's romance, just with two guys instead of a guy and a girl. M/M has the same diversity within the "genre" as any M/F book, and is equally well-written.
So if straight women like my work, great, but I hope it reaches out to a vaster audience and that I write something everyone can relate to on one level or another.
And before I go, here are a few of my favorite print fantasy authors who feature LGBT characters: Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series with Deborah J. Ross continuing it, Nicola Griffith, Kelley Eskridge, Samuel R. Delany, Lynn Flewelling, Sherwood Smith, Steven Leigh/S.L. Farrell, Pearl North and Steven Harper.
So why do or don't you read M/M? Why do you write it if you do?