A lot of times people will not understand what the difference is between BL and real gay life. I am going to include a few links to videos on YouTube which are movies which relate to real gay life and real issues. Then I will point out some of the differences. Also, there is a debate in academic communities about whether BL is good for the gay community or is negative.
This series set in Bangkok deals in a humorous way with the various issues of gay life. Some of the comical elements are over the top, but these are generally real gay people. These aren’t sanitized gays.
This series from Singapore is good in that they also incorporate issues of interracial dating, that is between Chinese, Indians, and Malays. All the usual issues of gay urban life are explored. These aren’t sanitized gays.
This series from Indonesia is really good and a real gay drama.
So what are the real differences.
- Straight guys don’t have sexual relations with gay men. It doesn’t happen. One of the basis things you learn from your peers when you are young is that having a crush over a straight guy is a road to heartbreak. You won’t have much sympathy from your peers if you do decided to pursue it and then meet the usual result. Straight boys are heartbreak.
In BL straight guys are doing it all the time. BL audiences are beginning to realize that straight guys don’t have sex with men and so writers are starting to have their protagonists be pansexual. I posted link to a Tonhon Chonlatee episode where a character says he is pansexual in an East Asian Academic study group knowing that they would find it amusing.
In a BL series they don’t finally get around to having sex until maybe the 8th or 14th episode. In real life there would be a concern that the individual needed to see a doctor for some medical problem. In real gay life sex happens rather soon. It could be that you met someone at a club, bathhouse, or “alternate venue,” like a park and had sex first and talking afterwards the relation would build. Sex and love are to a large degree two different things. People sometimes get to know each other and the relation grows to being a romance, or they had sex first and got to know each other. However, healthy gay men have sexual drives and they are getting laid. Of course there are some gays whose lives are somewhat like a BL novel, maybe they would have sex by the 3rd episode.
Imitating straight life isn’t the objective of every gay couple. Some are exclusive, some aren’t. Some are entirely exogamous. I knew a white gay couple that moved to San Francisco. When they got there they both desired Asian men. They still purchased a house together and they had relations with Asian men, but they are likely still together. Some gay couples occasionally have 3-somes. BL novels like to have a marriage ceremony at the end where they live heteronormatively forever after. There are some gays like that, and good for them.
GOOD OR BAD FOR THE GAYS.
The rape thing is really bad. One of the most frequently used defenses in U.S. Courts when a gay person is attacked is that the attacker will says he feared that he was going to be raped. Also, straight guy’s homophobic fears do often relate to the fear that you might hit on them the same way they hit on women.
However, one school of academic thought is that it allows a large segment of the public to be somewhat familiar with the idea of men having sex with men and romances and results in an acceptance. I have some scholars that hold to this.
However, there are other scholars that besides the rape thing, that it doesn’t really change attitudes that much. It is the old thing about a parent being okay with someone else’s children being gay but when it is their child they have a different attitudes.
Years ago my friends and I did the Gay Asian contingent in the first Gay Day parades starting in 1977. I was told later by a former SF student that his class, in the SF School system, with a high percentage of Asians, was watching a film about gays, and generally being indifferent, when the gay Asian contingent showed up he said the Asian students gasped. Again, they really didn’t care if others were gay, but the Gay Asian contingent suggested that it was in their community. Though this is 40 years ago.
It has always been understood in the gay community that straight people can talk and say one thing or another, but when it is their child sometimes it turns out that the prior talk was just talk.
So this is some perspectives. I will talk about how gay men watch BL some other time.