A few men have asked me why I like m/m fiction. About half of these men were open minded straight men and the rest were gay men. Both groups seemed surprised to think that women would be interested in this genre. I really couldn't say which group was more surprised. I briefly contemplated the old tried and true, "Who wants a hot guy and some chick when you can have two hot guys." Trite but true; however, there is so much more to it than that.
Someone put forward the hypothesis that just like straight men watch "lesbian" porn, straight women like gay porn. But that is another poorly thought out claim and just doesn't ring true on so many levels. Comparing apples to oranges doesn't do justice to the topic. Saying that men do "X" so women do the polar opposite is unrealistic. That kind of sophistry doesn't fly with so many other situations so why should it be any different here?
Men who watch lesbian porn are saying to themselves that they want a piece of that and if those girls were with them, they would make them straight. How do I know? I've hung out with more men than women and have firsthand knowledge of these conversations. These same men would never consider reading a lesbian romance. The only lesbian action they read about is in Penthouse Forums, stories written by men for men. No romance there, just porn waiting for a man to show up and convince these girls of the error of their ways.
M/m romance isn't porn. It may be very erotic and have a minimal storyline, but porn is different. Porn is strictly sex with very little pretensions of being anything else. It has no real redeeming qualities and frequently is between partners that aren't really interested in each other, much less turned on about the sex itself. Even in PWP (Plot, what plot?) m/m erotica, the partners are at least enthusiastic about the roles they are playing.
I read m/m romances, m/m erotica, yaoi/shonen ai and slash. It ranges from very graphic to a sweet kiss at the end of the story. I'm not reading it because I want the fantasy of taking part in the action. I read it because I like real men who are confused, vulnerable and looking for something important in their lives. There is a depth to these characters that is missing in conventional romance, where the men are the strong silent type. Not my kind of man.
Unlike traditional romances where they only question is how we get the two destined lovers together; in m/m romance getting the lovers together is only half of the problem. They may be in love, but still have multiple obstacles to overcome. Will one or both of the lovers be able to face their feeling head on? Will they find themselves in a situation where they won't be able to be true to themselves much less each other? Will they have their Happily Ever After (HEA) or will they, and the reader, have to settle for Happy For Now (HFN)?
If our two heroes are lucky enough to get an HEA, you know they had to work hard to earn it. Not just have everything handed to them like in more traditional romances. Theirs is a romance fraught with dangers all its own.
This genre offers so much more to both the author and the reader. It allows the author to explore more situations and gives a larger range of characters to choose from. While the characters often find their choices limited, the author doesn't. The men have to carve out their own place in the world. Even though everyone has to do that for themselves, these men have to face and overcome the social mores of their family, friends, co-workers and if that wasn't enough, every person around them. Sometimes they are lucky and some of the people around them are supportive, sometimes not so much. Even the lucky ones still face an uphill battle to keep their place.
Wish I could tell you exactly what I find most compelling about m/m fiction. All I can say is this genre touched something inside of me and hasn't let go.
I also write m/m erotica and some slash. I tend to be very graphic in my stories and write the kind of thing that I would like to read. I try to make the men in my stories men and not some masculine version of the mainstream romance heroine. Besides horny men are more fun!