I am not a yaoi expert, nor even a bona fide fan. I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read and I’m a regular reader of Teahouse, but on the whole I’m outside of yaoi in fandom. I can wax poetic about Manchester in 1973 (and believe me, that takes work) but what I know of yaoi is pretty much here.

However while listening to an episode of /report  that focused on yaoi,  I suddenly came to the realization that, however great the cultural divide (and it is great, no doubt), there might be some real correlations between the popularization of yaoi in Japan during the 80s and the sudden growth of M/M original fiction here in the West currently going on.

Mainly, in the sense that both are “female-oriented fictional media that focus on homoerotic or homoromantic male relationships, usually created by female authors” (Wikipedia’s definition of yaoi).

This is not to erase the gay male audience of M/M fiction, which exists and is, I believe, a fairly sizable percentage of M/M readers (although I do not have numbers on that…anyone?…anyone?…), nor deny the obvious fact that there is a sizable number of M/M authors who are, in fact, men. Like I said, there are big differences, both in time and place and culture. This isn’t a comparison that fits line by line.

But my point here is less a gender dynamics analysis than a refutation of the claim that M/M genre is inundated. Yaoi has been around for thirty years now (fuck, I’m old) and not only is it still going strong, but is quite huge internationally — and by huge, I mean not just popular but consisting of a large number of authors and titles, to the point that there are signifcant subgenres as well (American yaoi, for instance, and I’m sure many others I’m simply ignorant of). Straight women love it. Gay men love it. Gay women love it. People of all genders in the rainbow love it. The lesson here is that the audience for yaoi is broad and still growing.

In my opinion, the tidal wave of yaoi popularity that began in the 1980s and took off in the 1990s in Japan is just now starting to be mirrored by M/M fiction here in the west. We are a long, loooong way from inundation, and in fact I doubt we’ll ever hit that mark, because yaoi has proven conclusively that the audience for homoerotic fiction is anything but limited, to either women or gay men or anyone. It is still flowering.

Unbridled optimism isn’t really my trademark, but here I’ll make an exception: those of us who are writing and reading M/M today are riding a wave that is just going to keep getting bigger, and more popular, and more mainstream. In a decade the popular authors of today will be considered the “classics” of the genre, and readers who today are desperate for variety and/or rare sub-genre stories will be blinded by the choices available to them.

It’s a good time to be here.

~

 

 

 

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