Deb Aoki at Manga Comics Manga has put together an excellent post based on the “Gay Comics Art Japan” panel from TCAF 2015, in which I participated alongside Gengoroh Tagame, Anne Ishii, and Leyla Aker. The conversation covers a wide assortment of subjects including the crossover between gay manga and BL, audience identity, creators’ privacy issues, Tagame’s qualms with “bara” and his evolving views on the term, as well as his interest in bringing gay symbols and culture to the forefront through My Brother’s Husband.
One of my favorite threads in the discussion came from SuBLime’s Leyla Aker, as she mused on why labels and categorization are so important for fans across the spectrum of homoerotic manga:
[…] whether you’re a gay man reading gay comics or a straight woman reading BL comics or a gay man reading BL comics or a straight woman… what you’re doing is that you are looking for alternatives to the kind of homogeneous mass edifice of sexuality as depicted in mass media.
Clearly if you are a person who’s seeking out that kind of content, the mass media version is not doing it for you. Not only is the mass media version not catering to you– it is actively kind of trying to erase what your desires are. I think that most people tend to have an experience of that if they’re into this content. So I think it’s partially almost a reaction against that.
Because it’s such a crucial issue to a person’s identity, when you do find this kind of content that actually speaks to your desires and experience then it becomes very important to kind of get that identity right. So that’s what I think partially leads to a lot of this self-imposed kind of categorization.
Read the whole transcript at Manga Comics Manga!