So before I begin this discussion, I suppose I need to define what constitutes “M/M Romance” and “Yaoi”. Of course, by setting a definition I may very well answer my original question;) But here goes:
M/M Romance: This is usually defined as women writing homoerotic romances for women. It usually comes in book form – short stories, novellas or novels. The covers of the books are made up of largely half nude, buffed men. The covers are also done with photo-manipulation. They are usually like hetero romances in there are genre’s like historical, paranormal with werewolves and vampires, contemporary, fantasy, steampunk, whatever. The main characters are everything from cops to cowboys to wealthy business men to military men and all in-between.
Yaoi: This is also usually defined as women writing homoerotic romances for women. It most widely comes in manga or comic form, although there seems to be a trend outside of Asia to produce it in regular book form. Many of them are also made into anime. The genres pretty much run the gamut of paranormal, contemporary and fantasy, except that many of the main characters are high school or college students and many are what we’d consider “underage” in the USA. A very popular theme in Yaoi is the older man/underage man.
I suppose if you look at my definitions (they are by no means all encompassing or exactly right;) ), I think there are some clear differences. In my experience, M/M romance tends to try and stick to real issues involving gay relationships way more than Yaoi does. But since it’s written by and for women (and yes, I understand many men read it, but it’s still written for a female audience. Football ads target young men and I still watch them and find them amusing – sheesh) there is an element of romantic emotion between the two men that isn’t quite realistic and you probably won’t find written in a real, bona fide Gay Romance novel (written by and for gay men).
I tend to think Yaoi takes this romantic emotion thing a bit further. Maybe the men don’t really act like real men – but dang, we’re surrounded by real men all the time, can’t we just have some made up men that act how we’d like them to act for once? But the trick here is not to make them so farfetched that they’re completely unbelievable. It’s all about what we want, right? I think I’m off on a bit of a tangent, LOL.
Of course, there is what I write, a mixture of Yaoi and M/M romance. I take the sort of characters and situations you’d find in a M/M romance and give it a bit more of that Yaoi romantic emotion. At least, that’s what I try to do:) There are others like me who write normal books (not manga) and have anime-style, hand-drawn covers. Maybe if some of you other authors come across my ramblings you can pipe in:)
Anyhow, in my very short analysis, I think I’ve determined that yes, there is a difference between Yaoi and M/M Romance. But I believe the lines between the two are being fudged into gray and morphed the more popular these genre’s get outside of Asia. And I also believe it’s great for us women (and men) who love both genres.
What do you prefer and what do you want to see more of?