Growth is a normal part of life. I am not the same person I was a year ago, a week ago, or even yesterday. Everybody goes through changes and so too do our our tastes. Some things remain constant over the years, while others don’t. What I liked yesterday, I may not like next week—it’s a part of life. However, there has been one constant over the years, and that is my love of boys love media. I am a proud fujoshi.
Was I always so frank in my love of the genre, no, not at all. I was at one point afraid to even look at BL for fear that I would somehow be labeled as unclean (mostly because I was raised in Black, southern, Christian home where most fun stuff was frowned upon). Even after I stumbled into the genre, I was ashamed to admit that I even liked boys love media. It was something I did in the dark, hidden away from prying eyes. Even among friends who who liked anime, I was not free to speak of my growing love of Boys Love.
Which considering how open I am now about boys love, is kind of hilarious, because I literally have it everywhere. I’ve got over 300 volumes of BL manga in my house, and don’t get me started on my fave ships—my love of BakuDeku is a running gag on my streams because of how often I talk about it. So it’s wild to think that in the year of our BL gods, twenty-twenty-three; I still get comments like this from assholes on the internet.
Seriously, this is what we on today?
But, I have to give credit where credit is due. Because of this comment, I actually had to go back and revisit one of the first posts I wrote from all the way back in 2015. I don’t do that often, because honestly my posts from back then are cringy as fuck. But, since this asshole was able to find it in the vast expanses of the internet, I figured, I had better re-read it to see if I still stand by my words… and surprise, surprise, I discovered I have grown considerably in my fandom since 2015.
It was like reading something written by a stranger, aside from a few remarks, I don’t recognize the me that wrote that article. It’s like we’re two different people and yet, I know that is where I was within the fandom at that time. It’s a snapshot of a less worldly version of me.
I was 24, almost 25, when I wrote “I Kinda Sorta Like Yaoi…”, to put that into context SuBLime had only been around for 4 years at that point. The types of BL we had access to were somewhere between Junjo Romantica and the Finder series and Boku no Pico or whatever else you could find on the internet. Hell, I got my start with Gravitation back in 2007, and in my quest for more, I found myself in some really dark corners of the internet. Not to mention the types of stories that were being published back then, they’re not even close to the variety of boys love stories we’re getting now. Problematic couples, stereotypes, and questionable LGBT+ representation was the norm. It was slim pickin’s and you made due with what you had and it was through that very narrow lens that some of my early opinions on Boys Love media were formed.
So it’s no wonder I don’t recognize the me that wrote that article, because not only have I grown, but, so much about the genre and the fandom has changed as well. In the past most of the BL media I consumed came from Japan, but now we have stuff coming from Korea, China, Thailand, and even here in the West. This has opened up the genre to so many new perspectives and stories that weren’t as readily available in the past.
Because of these new ideas, I’ve come to be more open about aspects of the fandom that I shied away from in the past, like shipping. When I first wrote, “So I Kinda Sorta Like Yaoi…” I was not an avid shipper, in fact I kind of hated it. Back then I felt like if it wasn’t canon, then it didn’t need to exist. Now, I see pairings everywhere and I’m an avid reader of fanfics. Some of my favorite ships are rare-pairs.
I’ve outgrown many of my outdated fandom viewpoints and a lot of that is thanks to how far the genre and the fandom has come over the years. Boys love is not a shameful thing you consume in the dark of night. It’s become much more mainstream.
Hell, we even have designated BL imprints for novelizations, webcomics, drama series, mainstream and indie video games, anime series (not just OVAs). Most of all the types of stories we get are so much more robust. Folks used to joke that BL was just sex with(out) plot.
Archetypes and tropes that were the norm back in the day are gradually shifting. Gone are the days of meek and submissive bottoms and emotionally stunted tops. Now there is more of an effort to depict more realistic relationships, characters, and stories from a variety of genres within the fandom. Of course, if you want your problematic faves, there’s still plenty of that too, but there’s also so much more to explore.
I can’t wait to see where the boys love genre goes in the future and with it my own growth within the fandom. So, thanks Asshole, without your comment this post would not exist.
How far have you grown within the fandom? Has your view on boys love changed over the years? I’d love to hear from you down in the comments!