Originating in Japan, “boys love” (BL) manga and fiction that focus on romantic or homoerotic male-male relationships are considered by most of their writers, readers, and scholars to be primarily by women and for women and are purposely differentiated from gay fiction and manga by both commentators and practitioners. However, BL's increasing interweaving with homosexuality and sexual minorities in China requires scholars to reread and redefine BL practice in its Chinese context. This article discusses some of the recent transformations of the BL genre in China, examines the significant role female practitioners have played in indigenizing BL, and ultimately points to the trend of consciously writing and reading BL through a homosexual lens. By reflexively constructing “gayness” in BL works, these practices have also created a peer-led educational space on nonnormative sexuality and gender identity. The author also examines how BL “poaches” official and mainstream cultures, resulting in their considering BL the primary fictional vehicle of homosexuality. She therefore suggests that the trend of conflating BL with homosexuality and the deliberate homosexualization of BL in both texts and real life have ultimately extended the cultural identity of BL, as well as its political meaning, and in practice have created a porous culture that welcomes gender diversity and helps increase the visibility of the gay community, revealing a significant social and cultural shift that cannot be ignored or reversed.

You do not currently have access to this content.