Date of Degree

6-2022

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Women's and Gender Studies

Advisor

Matt Brim

Subject Categories

Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Keywords

fandom, reddit, social media, queer, LGBTQ+ media, romance

Abstract

The Boys Love (BL) genre, which tells stories of male-male romantic and sexual relationships, and originates in Japan, has made strides through transnational and transcultural engagement across countries, aided heavily by the internet age. I examine the development of the BL genre from its controversial beginnings to its feminist response as well as queer reception. Over the course of fifty years, the genre has exploded in popularity, becoming a more progressive medium of social change. As BL has become more diverse in content and broken with older conventions of the genre, what are the current discourses among the BL fan space? I answer this question through thematic analysis of r/boyslove, a community on the popular social media platform Reddit. The generated themes were: (1) Don’t Yuck my Yum, (2) Fantasy vs. Reality, and (3) Progressiveness in the BL space. Fan discourses highlight an enduring sense of shame for fans’ enjoyment of BL. In these conversations, participants deliberated the functions of consuming BL purely as fantasy and the importance of critically reading BL, keeping in mind real life consequences for gender and sexual minorities. The r/boyslove community acknowledged moral and political concerns around BL but also see the genre as a medium of change. Ultimately, discourses among BL fans show how the personal becomes political.

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