Sunday, January 30, 2011

Our Gay Heroes - they come in all sorts of shapes and we love them all

Although many current m/m romance novels were inspired by both by fanfiction and yaoi manga, many of the novelists who write them have taken the often basic idea of the uke and seme and run with it, with the result that there are a large variety of gay heroes for our delectation and edification and great enjoyment, although the stereotypes still exist, of course.

Many young women adore the idea of the uke and seme.  If you are unfamiliar with these terms, simply put the uke bottoms and the seme tops.  In most mangas, at least the ones I've seen and I've seen quite a few, these truisms are more or less written in stone - while the characters of the uke/seme change, their positions seldom do.  Once a uke, always a uke, and also with the seme.  Also in many of these stylized pairings, the uke is a rather waif faced youthful-looking almost feminine boy, even though he and the seme may be the same age, or not very much difference between them.  Almost like taking a girl and removing her breasts, and calling her a boy.  Some are worse than others.  Even though the mangakas take great pains to let you know everyone involved is of legal age (except when they're not, but I'm not going to get into shota, at least not here and now), they look like children, and sometimes what they do has the appearance, if not the reality, of pedophilia.  A problem which, of course, does not appear in m/m romance novels, as you aren't bombarded with images of the legal-age feminine looking child-toy.

There are m/m romance novels that do feed the stereotype, and if that's what you like, that's fine, but if you like your men more manly, there is no dearth of that either.  And they come in all shapes, sizes, and supernatural abilities.  There is a growing trend toward gay men who are vampires, werewolves, and shifters, and there must be a huge audience for it.  Vampires were first, I think followed by werewolves, and then shifters who could change themselves into anything from a cat to a tiger, and a lot of stuff in between.  I remember reading an excerpt from a novel involving tree-shifters.  I kid you not!  And from what I read recently, the shifter trend is changing too, and dragons are becoming the new shifters.  That should be interesting to watch.

If you like your gay men with powers, there are a lot of series out there.  One that comes to mind is Mimi Riser's Sylver and Steele.  From the little I've read of them, they are most excellent reads, filled with humor and heat.  I have a friend who is writing a gargoyle series - don't count them out, cause I'm telling you, they can be pretty hot.  Whodathunkit?  Vampires have been erotic ever since Bram Stoker took pen in hand and gave us Dracula, but today's writers have given the genre a decided homoerotic slant.  And if  you like your men with a little fur, Andrew Grey has a satyr series you might like to check out.

On the other hand, if you like your men a little more down to earth, there are a lot of those out there to choose from, and they run the gamut from unbelievably hunky to incredibly twinky and everything in between. One series that comes to mind is Marie Sexton's Coda series - her men are men, not stereotypes.  Even her fabulously gay Cole Fenton, who is way out there and truly shines in Strawberries for Dessert, has depth to his character which removes him from the realm of cookie-cutter gay men.  Matt, whom we meet in her first book, Promises, isn't gay, he just happens to fall in love with someone, Jared, who just happens to be a guy, a gay for you situation which is being seen more and more.  Her men are good-looking gay men, without a doubt, but they are also guys we could really meet and know.

A recent novel I read which certainly tore apart the mythos of the typical gay male, was Bernard: Diary of a 46 Year Old Bellhop, by S.L.Danielson.  The hero here is 46, very overweight, and very much unhappy with his life and himself, not your usual choice for a hero of a romance novel.  But Bernard is undoubtedly the hero,  as we watch him grow and develop through the course of the novel, taking his shot at finding true love with a handsome doctor.

If you like your men living in the past, there are writers who are glad to provide them.  Some ignore the mores of the times their men live in, and perhaps present slightly unrealistic views of their lives, especially in relation to the society they live in.  On the other hand, in Counterpoint, by Ruth Sims, there is no doubt that her young hero Dylan is aware that such behavior is frowned upon by not only society but his family, and that does not prevent his falling in love with Laurence, in a very well-written moving novel of a time when two men were far from free to be together.  Other historical authors that come to mind include Erases, Christie Gordon and Alex Beecroft.

Our gay men definitely come in all shapes and sizes and personalities - with or without powers, contemporary or historical.  They all have one thing in common - they are gay and we love them.  Do you have a favorite type of gay man?  If so, tell me what it is, and what book you think best typifies him?


  1. Favorite type? Hmmm... I think I would have to go with Wolves... but I do love a nice vamp too.

  2. Why am I not surprised that you chose wolves? *thinks of Remus and Max* lol