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Gay erotic fiction genre written by women, for women

Leonard Nimoy as Spock (L) and William Shatner as Captain Kirk on the TV series
Leonard Nimoy as Spock (L) and William Shatner as Captain Kirk on the TV series "Star Trek." Fan fiction of romance between Kirk and Spock were first called "K/S. Eventually that "slash" became known as its own genre where two male characters from any known work are thrown together.
"You had me at 'fascinating,' Spock." (Paramount)

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You're probably familiar with the short story and movie Brokeback Mountain about two male sheepherders who fall in love.

But what you may not know is that there's a whole genre of romance fiction about male couples ... primarily written and read by heterosexual women.

It's called "male-male," but in that genre falls a range of subcategories.

In slash fiction, for instance, two male characters from well-known works are smashed together for a full-blown romance. Think Captain Kirk and Spock hooking up (which is where "slash" gets its name -- the slash in K/S, a pairing that was one of the first works by authors in the late 70s).

Yaoi fiction, meanwhile, originated in Japan and is comprised of manga and anime stories, often distributed by mainstream companies.

And Jan Suzukawa is a writer of male-male (or m/m) romance novels, and instead she creates completely unique male characters and settings. Her book Kaminishi is about an American college student who time-travels to 1851 and falls in love with a samurai warlord.

And as a longtime fan of m/m and slash fiction, Suzukawa says it interests her because, "it's about the romance."

She likens it to men who find two women together erotic. But Suzukawa adds the caveat, "Men are never asked to explain what they're aroused by what and why. So why should women have to rationalize this particular interest?"

Zach Pincus-Roth wrote about the culture that's developed around this literature for the LA Weekly, where he's the arts and cultures editor.

"There is Barack Obama slash fiction out there," he says. "It's interesting the range of pairings and types of situations you can get."

Suzukawa will also speak more about m/m, slash, and Yaoi this weekend in Burbank at Bent-Con, which brings together LGBTQ comics and entertainment (or, as its website calls itself, "it’s just easier to think of it like a Comic-Con, only Gayer!")