Well, I was looking at the ComputErotika website to try to figure out when the Indigo Knights series will start. As I skipped around, I ran across a bit with Jet Mykles talking about what yaoi is. Here's a link she gave: http://katrina-strauss.blogspot.com/2008/02/what-heck-is-yaoi.html. I found Katrina Strauss' post quite helpful. Here's a good definition she gives: "Sooo....what is yaoi? Answers will vary as to what constitutes as "yaoi", though the common thread is that its roots lie in Japanese manga. Some will say it's any homosexual relations depicted in manga or anime, or fan pairings of characters from those genres, but in fact there is a certain dynamic that makes yaoi unique from other M/M and slash. One partner is assigned the role of "seme", a martial arts term for "attacker". The seme is the top, and usually tall, handsome, more masculine with squared features, narrowed eyes, wide mouth (often with a cigarette pursed between his lips) and aggressive to the point of being brute -- in other words, your alpha male. The "uke", which means "receiver", is your bottom. The uke is traditionally shorter, younger, more slender and feminine (though both parties are usually "pretty" aka "bishounen") with big doe eyes and full, pouty lips. Uke personalities can range from naive virgin who is shocked and begging for mercy when the buttsecks starts, to fiesty seducer who uses his uke wiles to spur his seme's testosterone on. As yaoi has evolved, these traditional assignations have been twisted and blurred, but then the twist lies in the original archtypes. For example, an older uke devirginizing a seme, or a uke narrowing his eyes and pinning his now wide-eyed seme against the wall while the seme blushes fiercely...those are twists on what you'd usually expect in yaoi, but then a yaoi fan would find those scenes brilliant because we've seen it portrayed the other way around so many times!"
"...Yaoi took stronger hold in the 90's when bored Japanese teenaged girls (likely tired of the aforementioned sexualization of the "Japanese schoolgirl" and seeking revenge) watched anime, read manga, or played video games aimed at their brothers and said "Hmmm, these characters are hot. How about they stop fighting, put down their swords, or step outside of the giant robot and just get it on with each other???" Only they weren't content to simply write about it -- they illustrated it, with the seme/uke characteristics as described above taking hold as the preferred art style. Doujinshi circles emerged (doujinshi = fandrawn manga) and those girls have since grown up and moved on from slashing Gundam Wing, Final Fantasy, or Weiss Kreuz (to name a few culprit fandoms) and now create their own original series, championing yaoi as a legitimate and marketable Japanese genre..."
And she explains this: "Fanfic-wise, look for the X rather than the / (slash) between names; e.g., Sirius/Remus means it could go either way, whereas SiriusXRemus specifically means that Sirius is the seme and Remus is the uke. (At least it's supposed to. I do come across supposed "yaoi" fic writers who have fallen into the misconception that yaoi automatically equates to anime/manga pairings. I nearly threw my laptop across the room upon recently opening a SephirothXCloud fic, only to find Cloud topping Seph. If you must insist on writing CloudXSeph, girls, go for it, but for the love of yaoi please label it correctly!!!)"
That had been confusing me -- I realized the "x" was supposed to denote a couple long before I learned that the "x" meant something about who took which role -- now I know the distinction. I have some issue with things being that stylized, but I tell myself that the art form has certain conventions, and that it has little or nothing to do with reality. Fortunately, a lot of the fictions are labeled well enough that I can pick and choose what I want. Generally, I'm looking for "lemon" -- and I don't want to read it if it doesn't involve consenting adults. I don't like "death-fics" that kill a character off in different ways than they get killed off in the original source material. And I don't want to read about the characters being tortured. Heck, I don't like original fiction in which a character is tortured. I'm okay with some angst if it's justifiable.
In m/m fiction, I read a variety of genres mixed with the romance -- mystery, action-adventure, paranormal, humor if it's done well. I like Goths, I like characters who are genuinely tough, but I really have what some would consider an unfortunate liking for light and fluffy, too. Years ago, a friend in a fairly Goth phase was appalled that I grew daffodils with the cultivar name 'Yellow Cheerfulness'. I thought she was taking it a bit too seriously. So, that kind of thing. I don't think absolutely everything needs to be gloomy. Sometimes I just want a fun escape. I don't like stories with men who act like very emotional women, but I don't mind reading a sweet romance in which there isn't any horrific threat to the characters. Nothing too sappy, but sometimes just a simple romance is okay.