book genre classification

What is M/M? Naked Rower Calendar; Naked Weekend Key West

What is M/M?

I know most of my readers will think that’s a silly question. But most people really don’t know. If you do a simple search for “What is M/M?” you won’t come up with much. If you do a search for “What is M/M Romance?” you’ll find opinions, but nothing that I would consider a solid, set definition. Two things prompted this post: I went to a party over the weekend and most of the people, gay and straight, had never even heard of M/M…anything, and I recently read one of those quasi academic blog posts where the woman blogger kept referring to “M/M” overdone tropes in a presumptuous way, as if everyone in the world knows what “M/M” is.

And the fact is that not many people know, not even gay people. And please keep in mind this is only my opinion, not a set definition.

I’ve been writing gay fiction for years, and I never knew what “M/M” was until about six years ago when a publisher introduced it to me to it. Up until then, the genre was Gay/Lesbian Fiction (or LGBT Fiction), and then there were smaller sub-genres like gay mystery/suspense, and gay romance. The main reason for any classification of books this way originated from a very simple theory that I learned about from reading many literary agent blog posts over the years. Bookshops needed a way to categorize books in genres so customers/readers wouldn’t get confused. And that’s really the most basic explanation for genre classification, which of course goes much deeper because so many books fall between the lines of different genres.

With the advent of the Internet and digital books, things got a little more complicated and a new genre was born which some people started to refer to as “M/M.” It took off, and a small online community formed. For me, M/M Romance is a sub-genre of LGBT fiction, that follows the guidelines of RWA’s definition of romance…with gay characters. And M/M Romance is written by both gay men and straight women, predominantly straight women. But more than that, a new generation of voracious digital readers was born and M/M Romance is read by gay men and straight women, again, predominantly straight women. I’ve written my share of M/M Romance and that’s the way I’ve always thought of it as a sub-genre. For me, it’s that plain and simple. However, I titled my anthology, The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance, the way I did so other people would understand what the book was about. I considered using “M/M Romance,” but I wasn’t sure how that would hold up in a more general sense with all the people who had never heard of M/M Romance. I could have used both titles and both would have worked. I chose to play it safer for pragmatic reasons.

In the past year or so, I’ve noticed a lot of people shedding the M/M Romance label and sticking with Gay Romance. I’m not sure why this is happening. But it could have something to do with the fact that most people don’t know what M/M Romance is. And if you just refer to it as “M/M” they look at you with blank stares. I’m talking about people who read all the time, people who belong to book clubs, and people who are just now getting into digital books…like most in the mainstream.

So I’m not sure how the category label “M/M” will evolve in the future. It might catch on, or it might just fizzle out and everyone will refer to the sub-genre as Gay Romance. But either way, I don’t like to make things more complicated than they should be. And even though it’s only my personal opinion, I don’t think there’s much difference between “M/M” and “Gay Romance” when you really get down to the basics of the sub-genre.

Naked Rower Calendar

I actually have a straight male friend who sends me these links sometimes. He’s comfortable with his sexuality and he doesn’t think twice about things like this. (He’s also very attractive and I’d love to get him to model for a book cover one of these days.) He reads my blog and knows I’ve posted a few things about male nude calendars for chairty, which seem to be popular this year.

The naked rowing team from Warwick first made headlines when they released their gloriously “NSFW” 2014 charity calendar, a black-and-white visual feast filled with gorgeous men baring their abs, buttocks, and … nearly everything else. Now, they’ve decided to unleash a teaser for their hour-long behind-the-scenes movie, in which they explain the purpose behind the cause their calendar is supporting: combating bullying and homophobia in schools. A great cause! Plus, there are plenty of scenes of these nude athletes running in slo-mo, playing tug-of-war, splashing in water, and posing coyly in meadows. Happy Friday!


You can view some photos here.

Naked Key West Weekend

Friends of mine are down in Key West and they’ve been e-mailing me about all the nudity they’ve seen in various places. I’m trying to get a few tasteful original photos from them (with permission), but until that happens I found a web site that shows more than I can post here on google blogger. For those who know gay culture, this isn’t unusual. Although Tony and I haven’t been to this event, we’ve been to nude gay beaches many times and it’s not really a big deal, and there’s really nothing sexual about it.

This is one of those tricky web sites where I can’t share any copy at all because of HTML, but you can get there from here to read more about Key West events, and view a few interesting photos. It’s a very entertaining link.