By crossover I mean in readership. As every article about m/m Romance seems to be at pains to point out, this stuff is written mostly by women and read mostly by women (shock horror!) and that it’s not read by many gay men. Other articles might point out that m/m Romance is not the same as Gay literary fiction – which is a bit like carefully emphasising that cats are not dogs.
This isn’t to say there is no crossover. Some gay men do read m/m Romances, some men write it. But what I want to know is, does it matter if they do? Is it a problem if they don’t? Is it a problem if it’s aimed primarily at women? Why should it not be? Romance books usually are. The senior managers at Harlequin don’t have meetings to figure out how to get men reading their books. They have meets to work out ways to get more women to read their books. They know who the market is for Romance – it’s women!
Now I definitely think it matters if the reason a gay man doesn’t like a particular m/m Romance is because it doesn’t even remotely reflect his life and experiences, to the point it’s insulting and offensive and dismissive of the real problems he has to deal with. (See my post on The two Rs – Research and Respect for more on that.) But if he doesn’t like it because it’s Romance and he’d rather read a thriller with shit blowing up, then that’s not a problem to me.
Do books that are in the Romance genre, a genre almost entirely produced by women and read almost entirely by women, need to be validated in this way by men? Authors of mainstream romance don’t think so – and they write about men too! Is there a problem with something being for women? Precious few things in this world are for women, why not this?