Wow, what a question to start off with when I’ve been absent pretty much all summer, huh? From what I’ve seen out there in author-land, there seems to be some polarizing views on what Yaoi and M/M romance written by and for a female audience (yes, I know many men like it, too, and I think I’ve already covered this ground in “Yaoi versus M/M Romance: What’s the Difference“) should be and how it may or may not affect the gay community.
Let’s take the first part of this, shall we? Does Yaoi exploit gay men? Our characters in Yaoi fall into seme and uke and in many instances, let’s face it, the uke is a chick with a dick. Are there real gay men out there like that? I’d say certainly. While many lesbians (and yep, I do know quite a few) can sometimes bend their female gender to imitate a man quite well, I’ve seen it done just as well with the opposite sex. Wait, what did I just say? Some lesbians act more like guys than guys and some gay men act more like women than women do;) (Just like in the hetero world, LOL) OMG, I think I’ve just started a topic for another day – gender bending and men in dresses, LOL. So, if there are real gay men out there that act like cute little ukes, by having characters like this are we exploiting them? Hell no. Am I exploiting dogs when I have one in a story and it barks and wags it’s tail? Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme. Even if there weren’t any gay men who behave like a typical uke, does this mean we shouldn’t write about them? Again, do dragons and unicorns exist? And there are stories written about them all the time.
But on a deeper level, are we female readers and writers of Yaoi and M/M romance exploiting gay men because we’re turning them into some twisted fantasy we have about gay men and them getting it on? Personally, I find this ridiculous, too. We may make them and like them to be a bit more emotional than a real guy and we may want them to fall in love more than real gay men do, but I’ve also heard from real gay men that these stories can be inspirational to them. And about the emotional part? Boys and girls are born pretty much the same, it’s our culture that forces boys to repress their emotions. Studies show that our culture is finally changing and it’s getting more and more acceptable for men to shed a tear or two. What’s the big deal anyway?
What I’d really like to know is why it seems to be okay with the lesbian community and especially our culture at large for straight men to watch lesbian porn, but, OMG, you’re a straight woman and you write gay romance stories??? It seems like every time I see some stupid ad for porn aimed at men, it’s two hot chicks getting it on. And have you seen late night HBO and such? The soft porn ALWAYS has two hot chicks getting it on. Not that there is anything wrong with that – just to be clear. I’d just like to see more, well you all know what I want to see, wink, wink.
So no, I don’t think Yaoi or M/M romance exploits anyone (maybe the fangirls, LOL). And for that last part – do we care? Of course we do, don’t be stupid. Reading and writing Yaoi and M/M romance has helped me to understand the trials of being gay and lesbian throughout history and today. My first book, A Summer without Rain, was critiqued by a man whose son is gay. He told me reading my manuscript actually helped him to understand and empathize better with his son. And guess what? I’m proud of that.