An Analysis of the Appeal of Homosexual Series.

Something I’ve discussed a lot on this blog is my interest in series that feature homosexual relationships, especially BL series. Something I’ve encountered multiple times while expressing my interests in certain shows with others is, ‘Well, what’s the appeal of two men/women going at it?’ A rather crude question, but I didn’t think anything of it when I first received the question. Whenever I got this question though the answer was simple, “I just like it!” and it was left at that, but now that I’m older and am once again receiving the question from friends I got to thinking about it. What exactly makes BL and GL series so appealing to those who engage in them?

ooooo

When you think about it that is a rather silly question. Obviously it depends on the person, right? There are also multiple other factors that can apply towards someone liking something. If we’re talking specifically manga, it could be the art, it could be the particular characters or it could be that one specific story line. If we’re talking anime, there is all those things listed before that apply and how the animation flows and looks, the soundtrack and the character’s voices that can add to how well you enjoy immersing yourself within the work. Even just how ‘exciting’ the sexual content is can apply to enjoyment. It can be hard to pinpoint an exact answer entirely, but throughout my anime watching ‘life’ I have kept within the company of those who enjoy BL and GL series. While most of them are women and despite that they all cite different reasons for liking the series, there is one common preference that watchers seem to have among themselves: the characters are the same.

KASESANNNN

from Kase-San manga

Well what does that mean exactly? Does that mean same as in the sense they’re the same sex? Same as in they’re the same type of person? Possibly, but not really. Same in this context means that they are on the same standing in life. People may not want to admit it, but when it comes specifically to heterosexual pairings there is this whole ‘I’m a man and you’re a woman and we’re going to perform our roles as expected!’ ordeal. With homosexual pairings, that is almost non-existent. There may be some issues with submission and dominance in the bedroom,  but when it comes to outside of that and their expected roles there is no issue because the two are both exactly on the same standing. They are both men, or they are both women, and because of that the characters are allowed to act outside of certain gender expectations and are faced with the same social standings as the other.

from the Slow Starter manga

from the Slow Starter manga

Despite what we’d like to admit, when it comes to the romantic atmosphere of heterosexuals in most cultures it is considered that the woman is underneath the man and is submissive to him and his desires. While in some places in the world this has changed drastically from older times, this mind set still has not been completely eradicated. With BL and GL series, however, this mind set doesn’t even come into play. The story is two men or two women who are on the same plane and exist in the same social standing. Power play dynamics may enter when the bedroom scenes roll around, but outside of that the two characters are given the same power within the relationship. One of the men’s opinions is not worth more because he is the ‘man’, because both of them are men and just as important. Same with the women, neither one is less than the other because they stereotypical power dynamics within heterosexual couples don’t apply to them. There is no ‘man’ and there is no ‘woman’ in the relationship. There is just two men or two women. That right there is the main appeal to so many readers. They cannot stand the crappy power dynamics that has to be played at by so many heterosexual couples. Not to say that BL and GL cannot be incredibly hetero normative, especially in the aspect of sexual escapades, but for the most part these series do provide an escape from the confines their heterosexual counterparts have.

from the Citrus manga

from the Citrus manga

Of course I’m sure some people who read this will roll their eyes and think something that I’m just trying to make gay porn sound like something it isn’t, but that’s not what I’m doing at all. Most BL/GL series do feature sex, but that is not the main appeal and that is certainly not always the main point of the stories. Also, just because a story features sexual acts doesn’t really mean that is actually shows it. Many series show the foreplay, but then cut away from the actual act. Now, there is a lot of porn within BL and GL series, there’s a lot of porn of anything regardless, but that doesn’t mean it is all porn and that does not mean that there aren’t many works with wonderful stories that can capture your heart! That and it’s not like sex detracts from a story. Sex can enhance a relationship and emphasize just how passionate and deeply the couple care for one another.

from me wo tojite 3 byou

from me wo tojite 3 byou

Basically, what is is that makes BL and GL series so much more appealing to its readers than Het romances is the fact that they’re different relationships. The characters do not have strict gender roles applied to them, they do not act out their male and female assigned roles, and they are free to face their challenges together within the same social contexts. They’re not confined like heterosexual couples, and that is hat makes BL and GL stand out.

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5 responses to “An Analysis of the Appeal of Homosexual Series.

  1. Reblogged this on The Yuri Nation and commented:
    Here’s a most interesting read regarding the appeal of homosexual themed anime and manga covering both yuri and yaoi. Fans of either or both can check it out and see what Mako-Tachi has to say. Some of the stuff he covers I have already mentioned in my own yuri posts of the past but the dood also mentions some interesting extras.

  2. As a yuri fan, I find your explanation to be interesting. While I will cite my primary reasons for disliking heterosexual romances in manga/anime is based on how poorly they are written (almost as if the relationship was an afterthought), but I also believe the gender roles further limits these relationships. When relationships in a story are poorly written, it’s usually because the characters are either forced into the relationship without any real chemistry with each other or the relationship itself plays out like every single relationship of this nature (as the characters act according to the roles society has assigned them according to their gender).

    In yuri (and presumably yaio/BL), the relationships are interesting both because they are often written carefully and thoughtfully, and because their is no expectations for the characters to act. Thus each time two characters with the same gender become a couple, it’s an exciting and new experience. Never are two couples relatively the same as the members are allowed to interact with each other independently of gender roles and societal norms.

    • A very good point! When it comes to so many heterosexual relationships it is literally the same rehashed stuff over and over again between the characters. It makes it horribly boring and not interesting in the least. Actually rather annoying. Not to say that they’re aren’t good het romances, quite a few series do a wonderful job with their romance aspects!

      While yaoi and yuri do have their own tropes with their characters, I have to agree that for the most part the authors try to write different relationships for the characters. Yaoi seems to be a bit more limited in that field though, because there are quite a few artists that just rewrite the same pairings, but with different faces over and over again. It seems to be getting better though with works like Ten Count and so on coming out recently.

  3. Your stated reason is definitely one of the biggest things why I’m into BL as well. But of course it’s not the only reason. I rather dislike the heteronormative BL stories with one very masculine and another very feminine character. Perhaps because I also am so bored with the het romance tropes.

    But it’s not like I don’t enjoy BL stories where the couple is not exactly equal, by difference in age or position etc. I also enjoy immensely the darker side of yaoi. Most straight stories are so clean cut and the females are so innocent that it’s almost sickening. Sometimes I want to read about really extreme bickering or over-the-top yandere types, even insanity and heavy violence.

    Obviously I also enjoy watching men more than women, and I find the physical equality very attractive. But the most of it is just the variety of the stories and personalities. How many older women do you see in het romances? It almost always the same “shy girl likes tough/popular boy and angsts over nothing”.

    • That’s something that BL has started to pull away from, thankfully. That dreadful trend of the girly uke and manly top just needs to die already.

      I, too, though rather ashamed to admit it, also enjoy the darker aspects of BL. They offer more ‘excitement’? Might be the word, or just more ‘gripping’ of a story. I find it interesting that some BL works just try to convey horrible people doing things, but with Het romances, so many things are so flowery and stray from the evils that man is capable of. It can get rather tiring living in an ideal romance haha.

      There really isn’t many, there is apparently one coming out soon though! It features a woman in her late 20’s and her highschool SO, supposedly. Can’t remember the name of it for the life of me though.

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