Thanks! From what I’ve seen on your blog I don’t think you’ve said anything inaccurate on the matter… “Bara” isn’t a contemporary slur in the way that “fag” is used in the present, it’s an antiquated semi-pejorative term similar to “pansy.” Tagame is keenly aware of the word’s history and finds it distasteful to have his work conflated with that by foreign fans. Other artists we spoke to were simply confused by the term’s popularity in English, since it’s irrelevant in the present day gay lingo in Japan. Maybe it’s not so offensive to every gay mangaka, but I almost never see them use it, so I now refrain from using it.
The other part of this is that “bara” has taken on a life if its own via the English-speaking online fan community. Beyond a label for a genre of manga/comics, it has evolved to refer to bigger, usually masculine-presenting body types, not dissimilar from the term “bear” that emerged a generation before. I don’t want to deny anyone the right to identify however they wish, and I don’t care to police language that really isn’t doing much harm. I just hope to clarify the etymology, point out the somewhat charged cross-cultural history of the word, and let people know it’s not commonly used by the Japanese artists whose work has become associated with it.
Edit: Just to respond to a frequent refrain that comes up in this conversation: I don’t care if it’s harder to Google “gay manga” than it is to Google “bara.” I think that’s a lazy excuse to use the term.