“You know there was once a Symposium at Agathon’s, when Socrates, Alcibiades, and their friends had dinner together; I wanted to ask you about the speeches they made on Love. What were they?”
Welcome to the Gay Anime Symposium! This humble but wholly unapologetic blog is an outlet for discussing gayness in anime, video games, and manga. Whether BL or GL, yaoi or yuri, this very important blog will assess that very important age-old question, the answer to which has long eluded philosophers throughout the ages: is it gay?
What is BL/GL?
BL and GL refer to Boy’s Love and Girl’s Love respectively, a romance genre featuring same-sex love in Japanese manga and anime. While fans come from all over the spectrum, typically, BL is targeted toward women and GL is specifically targeted to men or to women, depending on the work. Though BL and GL include original and professionally-produced comics and anime, the genres are highly entwined with fanworks, especially amateur comics (doujinshi), fanart, and fanfiction. Both genres are generally distinct from LGBT fiction, and tend to focus on romantic fantasies.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t some crossover, or that the BL and GL genres haven’t explored beyond the genre’s presumed boundaries. Furthermore, many fans of BL and GL – including myself – identify as queer themselves.
Is it the same as yaoi/yuri, then?
In the West, these terms are used pretty interchangeably by fans. Armchair experts will tell you that technically yaoi and yuri refer to sexually explicit works and the PG13 versions should be called shounen ai or shoujo ai, but you won’t find much use for this distinction outside the realm of English fanfiction. In Japan, “yaoi“ was originally coined to refer to amateur erotic male/male doujinshi, and “shounen ai” was a specific genre referring to platonic relationships between young boys that fell out of favor decades ago. “Yuri” is more encompassing, and continues to be used in both explicit and non-explicit female/female comics – but on the flip side, shoujo ai should never be used. In the case of both same-sex pairings, Japan most regularly uses BL and GL.
This blog will also shamelessly overlap queer presence with the terms BL and GL, so long as the queer presence takes place in an anime, manga, or video game.
Do the titles have to be Japanese to qualify?
These days, BL and GL (and by extension, yaoi and yuri) as genres have spread across the globe. Official usage of the terms can be found in Korean and Chinese comics and webtoons, and even Western works have adopted their usage.
Who the hell are you?
I’m a person who shamelessly enjoys even the worst of yaoi and yuri tropes. It allows me to combine two of my favorite hobbies: anime and same-sex sex.