-By Chelsy Ranard
There are many misconceptions about the MM romance genre, and its origins and modern progression is no exception. Gay romantic literature has been around for a long time and there is a common misconception that MM romance originated from those roots. It makes sense to assume that a genre of fiction about a sexual relationship between two men would start with homosexual literature written by men, for men. However, the truth is that the progression of MM romance started with fan fiction and slash fiction, and then created its own subgenre from there – and was mostly written by women.
Fan fiction is where it all started as far as MM romance goes. Fan fiction is fiction written by fans about the characters, setting, or idea of an original piece of work. The practice of creating a story based on another has been around as early as the 1930’s, but the modern phenomenon gained popularity with the Star Trek fandom in the 1960’s. Even back then, women dominated this genre with 90% of fan fiction authors being female by 1973. In this genre, authors were able to take characters, places, and ideas that they loved from other works and put them in a world that they created. Their own imagination, their own love interests, and their own storylines created a piece of work that allowed them to do what they wanted with their favorite books, movies, or television shows.
E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey is one fan fiction book that has gained widespread popularity in recent years – and it’s based off of an extremely popular phenomenon many know of called Twilight. There are many legal issues with fan fiction and its connection to copyright infringement, but authors like Stephanie Meyer, author of the Twilight Saga, and J.K Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series have embraced much of their fan fiction, even including links to them on their websites.
The appeal of fan fiction was to take characters, places, and ideas from a work that you love and creating something of your own out of it. Slash fiction is a subgenre created from fan fiction that takes this idea to a more sexual place. Think Spock and Kirk in the throes of passion and you have the right idea. Slash fiction took fan fiction and romance and meshed the two together creating an entire collection of work created by fans showcasing their favorite male characters engaging in lovemaking. Harry and Draco from Harry Potter, Sherlock and Watson from Sherlock, and Stiles and Derek from Teen Wolf have all been portrayed in popular slash fiction by fans of their original shows. And, of course, this genre is also primarily written by women who want to see their favorite male characters in loving embrace.
Slash fiction is originally based on sexual relationships between male characters, but there are also slash fiction works depicting a whole array of characters, genders, and cross-show pairings being created from the original slash fiction. These genres stemming from slash fiction include fem slash fiction where female characters are portrayed together sexually, real person slash about celebrities, and many others with the same idea.
Fan fiction is about expanding existing stories that are popular, slash fiction is about expanding those stories in a homoerotic fashion, and MM romance is creating a story about two men in a romantic relationship with an original storyline. Take away the big fan base, the characters that have already been created, the story lines they have, and their environments and leave the skeleton of the idea and you have a genre that focuses on romance about two men. MM romance was created from an idea that anyone can write sexual stories about the male characters they love, and it morphed into a genre on its own that focuses on original work. Authors create their own characters, settings, dialogue, story lines, and background and create a world that showcases two men in a romantic sexual relationship. And it was all started by the idea that you can write the next part of the story of a fandom you love.
The progression of MM romance is a surprise to many that aren’t familiar with the genre and its beginnings. In a genre that focuses on homoerotic stories, it’s natural to think that the background in this type of literature would stem from the homosexual literature that has been written for generations. However, the modern view of this phenomenon starts at an unexpected place and took some interesting turns to get where the genre is today. The world of MM romance and homoerotic fiction is full of surprises.