Article photo features Saint & Zee (WhyRU Series)

I have been asked this question many times and I did ask myself too quite passionately. How do you reconcile a female BL author’s perspective of male + male romance vis-à-vis your own perspective from real-life experience?

First of all, allow me to say that some of my thoughts here may be viewed as diametrically opposed and/or hugely unpopular in so far as romantic thoughts are concerned. But since I don’t usually hold on to my views as just “thoughts”, I might as well be frank and honest about it. After all, my readers deserve nothing less.

Here are some of my issues with the mostly female perspective of male + male romance:

The tendency for romance is stronger than exposing serious issues affecting homosexual relationships. It therefore appears sweeter than I can describe it (or have experienced it) in real life. These relationships appear to me to be too “idealistic” in the sense that many of the scenes appear to be quite artificial, even laughable for their absurdity. Cases in Point: Almost all Thai BL I have seen since Lovesick until UWMA, with a few exceptions, like TharnType and He’s Coming to Me.

Mew Suppasit + Gulf Kanawut (TharnType Series)

Both these series – in my opinion – gave me a feeling of a sense of identification. For instance, Tharn’s obsessive loyalty to Type, hits me head-on since I have done the very same thing. Thun’s (Ohm Pawat’s outstanding portrayal) coming out to his Mom is poignant and painful at the same time, with the notion that he could be ostracized from the family altogether. Most Asian families are still coping with their sons and daughters declaring themselves as gay. He’s Coming to Me offers a promising outlook where the reaction was positive. But let’s not ignore reality – there can be no glossing over the fact that many families still react negatively.

Ohm Pawat & Singto (He’s Coming to Me)

Homosexuality is often very difficult for LGBT Asians because our culture usually treats the subject of homosexuality with the tried and true method of silence. [source]

I don’t think this type of issue will ever be a top concern among BL authors. The way I see it, the drive behind the characters is more romantic fantasy in nature, and seldom do issues like “coming out” ever become a centerpiece of the narrative. However, aside from HCTM, Love by Chance and Dark Blue Kiss also feature “coming out” scenes, all featuring great performances by the actors, much to the delight of many.


Men don’t just fall (as if feeling weak) and have someone catch them and even kiss them afterwards and various versions of it. These clichés always make me roll my eyes. I find it in similar “cahoots” with amnesia (where an actor lost his memories and got played around with by the cast) or body-switching or identity snatching (having plastic surgery and pretending to be someone else). Cases in Point: Dark Blue Kiss, UWMA, Why RU.

Jimmy Karn + Tommy Sittichok (WhyRU Series)

Some may argue that I just didn’t get the point. Of course I did. I got the point in WhyRU because it was clear to me what the scene’s intent really is. There is no hard-line explanation necessary – it was done with a comedic flair, unlike having added a scene forcefully or just to create an impression that the “relationship” – quite conveniently – is moving forward.


Beautiful female characters are usually depicted as villainous – that they are the epitome of hatred. Not that they will do that in real life, but fans appear to be blindsided by the fact that these actresses are acting on a drama series. I mean these are attractive women who can snare any man they like. They definitely would not settle for a gay guy! Do female BL authors create imaginary female characters based on real-life experience? Were there instances when they like a boy, and some glam girl snatched him from under the author’s nose? Is this a case of revenge? Cases in Point – Together With Me, Make it Right, TharnType (to a limited degree).

Note to production crew: Please stop depicting female characters in a drunken state, it was never realistic, never has, never will. At least make them talk and act real.

Drunk Talk Isn’t Just Nonsense, According to Study. They say the truth comes out when you’re drunk. As it turns out, published research proves that statement is surprisingly accurate. When drinking alcohol, the tongue is freed up to say exactly what is in a person’s heart. [source]


Rape, bullying and physical violence actually happen. It happened before and it will happen again. Rape, in particular, should not be romanticized nor be made to be something normal or even idealistic. In some male + male romance, rape and bullying do happen, but it forms part of the relationship. For gay guys, if the relationship is between someone in his late 20s and another in his teens, it could be considered “rape”, since the other guy is not yet of legal age. This is especially real in TharnType, where scenes of rape and bullying and physical abuse and violence do happen. Some people get offended by it, but by God, this happens!

Oak Chakrit + James Prapatthorn (The Effect)

This is one particular WTF issue for me especially to those who think it is not real. This is also especially unrealistic – not the rape scene but the way it was explored afterward in The Effect. Two different series, two opposing views.


Straight guys don’t need to defend their sexuality in the presence of gay porn videos. This is one of my biggest complaints in My Tee (Cause You’re My Boy). A straight guy can watch gay porn for all he cares! You can see my argument here. Please read it twice.

Boy B insists Boy A ‘pretends’ to be his boyfriend to get his girl back. [ read more ]


Androgynous (looking and feeling) actors are a big no-no for me. The reason why I didn’t like the main couple in Lovesick is that I find White Nawat to be too effeminate for my taste. The biggest attraction with Ngern and August (Lovesick’s second couple) is that both look manly and appealing – sexually and physically – that they seem the male ideal for BL characters. I felt the same with Earth Katsamonat, so watching him lessens the visual appeal of UWMA for me. We can argue about this until the end of time, but for a gay guy like me – knowing that a BL main character is kissing someone (who looks too effeminate) can be a turn-off. I mean, we are supposed to be watching a male + male romance, so the level of masculinity should be there. I don’t know about you, but this is my personal preference;


Tay Tawan + New Thitipoom (Dark Blue Kiss)

Anal sex, foreplay like rimming and other sexual activities happen in real life. To depict male + male romance and relationship without even hints (or actual depiction) of certain “sexual bouts” is absurd, unrealistic and totally bullshit. I understand that certain BL authors tend to get shy when it’s about what really happens when two guys have sex, but anyone can access gay porn to get a more worldly view of “things”. To be realistic or to remain dreamy – that is the question. For me, this is the most difficult to reconcile.


Female authors depicting male + male relationships

I have to say that Mame12938 has given BL audiences with the most authentic, in-your-face characterization of male characters in BL. Of course, these are all under her vivid imagination. Think of Elizabeth Knox (who authored The Vintner’s Luck about an angel and a winemaker who had a long-term relationship. It was a steamy male + male sexual relationship that works on many levels. The same can be said of Anne Rice and her Vampire chronicles where Lestat has an obvious relationship with Louis and Nicholas.

Gaspard Ulliel + Jeremy Renier (The Vintner’s Luck)

Again it boils down to imagination and if there is heavy research, observations and analysis to shape characters, and interviews conducted to make it realistic, kudos to the authors! But then again, publishing a BL novel to merely ride on its popularity can be easily distinguished. A fake is a fake – Nothing more. Nothing less.

The most I can be critical about other authors is how common the scenarios, story-lines, and characters they appear to me. I am not complaining about the school theme/genre. I can watch a thousand BL based in a school in different light and shades.

In the end, loving or hating a BL series depends on many factors. For me, I will not settle for anything less than what I prefer. I want my BL characters to be manly (not necessarily muscular) and beautiful, to face conflicts and problems as part of life, to love and seek romance and to be themselves. It can be a fantasy, in a faraway place, but there should be some semblance of logic for me to believe and have faith in it.

Red

Red

I blog about Thai, Japanese and Asian movies, drama, and anime since 2012. I've been a movie reviewer since 2007.

10 Comments

  • Love your article!

    I feel like with BL, along with many other genres, it’s an incredibly mixed bag when it comes to representation of real gay relationships.
    Series like ‘Why R U?’ feel like fan service to a predominantly female audience; every male character falling in love left right and centre, very little character development and maximum skinship, along with the forever classic ‘I don’t like men, I just like him’ (done so that female audiences don’t lose hope that they can ship themselves with the character).
    But then there’s series like 2Gether and Dark Blue Kiss that actually tackle some of the issues of being a gay man or in a gay relationship in an otherwise fairly conservative country that don’t fetishise gay men or relationships.

    However, I do feel like BL series just keep getting better when it comes to tackling darker and more realistic topics, so I’m very excited and hopeful for upcoming series!

    • Red says:

      Thank you. Yes I agree that BL series are getting better and also there is a need to continue reviewing so that we remain critical of quality and the need for it.

  • CP says:

    Thanks for your article and for writing about this topic
    Just to add my two cents: when I first got into BL, I really had little expectations. Knowing a little bit about the genre’s origins helped me mentally distance myself from what I was seeing. I enjoyed it, don’t get me wrong but I always knew were the boundaries laid.
    I never thought that gay culture could find expression in BL narratives (..well I still don’t know if it can..). However, I slowly found myself wanting to see something more. I wanted my protagonists to have flesh and bone, to be flawed and incomplete and to arrive/claim (or not for that matter) their sexuality not as an accidental coincidence but through a conscious struggle. I was waiting for a semblance of reality to creep in…and in some cases it did…
    Personally, I’m all for a slice of real life story, throw at me whatever you have, just make sure you don’t compromise your characters’ integrity. Relational anxieties and dramatic themes are real as long as they are not inserted into the story solely to indulge a collective female fantasy.
    Thanks again for writing about this!

    • Red says:

      Thank you for your comments. Yes, it seems that we have been investing our time and even some emotional attachments to some of the series and characters. I find that quite normal since we try to understand what these fictional characters are going through but I agree, there needs to have some semblance of logic for us to accept it as it is. I don’t think we are demanding – as viewers we expect and follow certain standards ourselves too.

  • Ian says:

    I find the ‘I don’t like men, only you’ theme quite objectionable because it’s totally divorced from reality. Most gay men are sluts and those who say they are not, are lying to themselves. Given the opportunity, even happily coupled guys will cheat if they think they will get away with it.
    To say I could never love another man might sound romantic, but what they really mean is if you leave me or die, I’ll go back to women. Which completely negates all that gay men have fought for since Stonewall. You’d have to ask yourself if they are really gay at all.
    Best to remember that most BL stuff is a fantasy or wishful thinking by the writer. In so far as it goes, that’s okay but it quickly becomes tedious to see the same situations repeating themselves by clueless boys who don’t even seem to know what gay is. Hard to believe in these internet days. Yet they have a ‘divine’ awakening by their handsome BF to be, and presumably, live happily ever after, Prince Charming and Princess Obedient, in this brightly coloured fairy tale, if you’ll excuse the pun. Which is why I prefer Tharn/Type realism.
    And spare me the viewer who says ‘I won’t watch a BL series if it has an unhappy ending.’ Life is full of unhappy endings. Get over it.

    PS Thanks to Red for all your hard work in posting numerous articles in these difficult times. When all is said and done, perhaps we need happy endings right now.

  • Chibi says:

    Thank you very much for your answer. It ties in with what my gay friends told me. I think, and it is only my opinion, that the authors of BL forget that men don’t have the same sexual behavior as women (I mean it’s scientifically proven, Nature is made this way. I don’t want to stereotype my argument) and of course this is felt in writing. And after all, BL are written by women for women, they don’t want to read true reality ahahah. Aaargh I would like to be clearer and develop my opinion more, but I do what I can ! Thanks for your work by the way. It is always a pleasure to read your analysis

  • Chibi says:

    Thanks for an honest and really interesting article. So, what do you think of the famous “I don’t like men but you yes”. This argument regularly scratches my eyes and I’m not very comfortable with it. I don’t mean it’s not possible in real life but is it really so realistic ? From what I have heard from some gay friends, it did not always end well (I’d really like to be able to clarify my point further but unfortunately my English is not the best). Thank you.

    • Red says:

      Your English is fine. Its the logic of the

      “I don’t like men, only you”

      Which is lacking. I ought to have included that on the article. For me, it is a bit dangerous because it is counter to a gay guy’s persona. I mean, most men are not monogamous. That statement in itself is controversial so it goes that gay men can be as well. If history teaches us anything, gay men – many of them died of AIDS due to multiple sexual encounters. That’s one lessons of history. Many may disagree with me but that’s how I feel.

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