Monday, June 4, 2012

When Will It (Gay) Hit Mainstream?

I remember when interracial relationships in books were taboo. Heck, in some parts of the country this is still the case in real life. But gradually awareness has grown and bigotry is fading--not gone yet, because unfortunately people can be morons. Society's tolerance for relationships outside the "norm" has grown. And by norm, I think of one male and one female of the same race in a relationship leading to marriage. Interracial is now accepted, and gay as well. Mostly. Depending on where you live. Kind of.

Sigh. So many qualifiers...

Why is it I'm still not seeing those books entering the mainstream? Perhaps when every state can wise up and legally okay gay marriage, will I see it then? Is that what it will take for large publishers to include gay romance as a fully fledged and acknowledged genre? Curious.

In a time when groups boycott JC Penny ads for daring to show happy same-sex couples in advertising, I don't get the sense that the Big 6 publishers are yet ready to see two men or two women on the cover of a book. Small presses and electronic presses don't have those same concerns. They put erotic romance on the map by publishing what readers wanted to read. Low and behold, New York picked up on the popularity and enfolded erotic romance into its midst.

The discussion about what publishers will buy is a lot like the chicken and the egg concept. Publishers claim they buy what the public wants to read, because who the heck wants to buy material that won't sell? A valid point. Yet many readers complain that the publishers push what they--the publishers--consider sell-able, not necessarily what readers want. That the readers are force-fed trends according to what sold last month. And to an extent, readers are right.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard of editors looking for another Hunger Games or Twilight or vampire romance. Another book right along the lines of what's already out there. Sure they want to cash in on what's marketable, but in that way they're forcing readers to read the same type of material all over again instead of introducing something new. I think particular books work so well because at the time they're released, there's nothing quite like them out there.

Which brings me back to gay romance. Why have mainstream publishing houses not leaped on this bandwagon yet? M/m erotic romance in particular has a huge following. It's niche, yes, but m/m fans are some of the most loyal out there, maybe because it's not that easy to find good m/m (or f/f) romance. And if you look at a lot of the popular and bestselling books on many distributors, most of the top sellers are gay romance. (Take a look at All Romance eBook's bestsellers.)

To say that many women don't like two men touching is crap, plain and simple. Look at the huge popularity of ménage romances. It used to be that the men only concentrated on the woman in the relationship, but more and more the ménage is a true threesome where everyone touches everyone. (My personal preference.)

I'm just wondering what it will take, and if it we'll ever see actual romances from the big six that involve gay characters as leads. I do know Suzanne Brockman had a gay character she carried through a few of her books, and whom I believe had his own story. But other than her, I don't know of any commercial romance with gay leads. Is homophobia still that rampant, even in such a progressive city like New York? Inquiring minds want to know...

5 comments:

Diana Mcc. said...

You certainly make some valid points. That is a lot to think about. Great post!

Karen Duvall said...

Interesting post! One of my favorite authors of all time is Armistead Maupin, who wrote the Tales of the City Series about a gay community in San Francisco, sort of a gay Peyton Place. It's a lot of gay romance with wonderful characters, very addictive books, published by Harper Collins beginning in 1978. There are 8 books in the series, the last one published in 2010. There was even a television series made from it, and a musical.

Harper Collins was a big 6 publisher until its recent financial woes, but they gave it a shot to launch a poignant, entertaining gay romance series that's been moderately successful. If you enjoy gay romance, you'll probably like these books. Maupin has a compelling voice that totally sucked me into his stories. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I have heard one person that decided to take that chance with another well-loved series.. J.R.Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood with Blay and Quinn (Qhuay), due to come out next year:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13...

I know I included it on my must-read list. I was sooo happy to see a somewhat'main-stream' author take this chance outside of Ms. Brockman's characters (I enjoyed that book/series, also):D I also heard Sydney Croft has introduced a gay couple in the ARCO series? I am hoping, like you, that it will become more mainstream, and yes, I agree that M/M readers are a VERY loyal bunch.I also appreciate the collaboration on Goodreads with Josh Lanyon visiting J.R.Ward's site with Q&As last month. http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/8...
He is a very well-respected m/m author, (I love his books) and if anyone can make m/m romance mainstream, seems like he could.

Anonymous said...

*Update - Looks like J.R. Ward's book now has a title and cover....
http://www.fictionvixen.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Lover-At-Last-J.R.-Ward.jpg

Anonymous said...

I actually prefer f/m books myself. I think most people usually like to read about what their fantasies are - nothing wrong with a good f/mm or m/m book - just not my cup of tea.