How ‘Boys’ Love’ Authors Are Using Love to Make War on Ignorance

A still from web series Addicted

Chinese BL fiction has helped raise public awareness of long-marginalized sexual minorities.

Late last year, Tianyi — the pen name of a Chinese author of homoerotica — was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of “profiting from the production and sale of pornography.” The severity of the sentence brought widespread public attention to Tianyi’s case, and on Dec. 17, 2018, 2.65 million people tuned in to a livestream of her appeal hearing.

The emergence over the past 20 years of what is known as “boys’ love” fiction on the Chinese internet owes much to both Japanese imports and the emergence of a homegrown Chinese fandom. It’s not unheard-of for well-received BL novels to be turned into dramas, aired not on television but on the country’s online video platforms. In January 2016, for example, “Addicted” a web series based on Chai Jidan’s pseudonymous internet novel “Are You Addicted?” was watched 10 million times the day after its release, according to the show’s producers.

Yet despite the show’s popularity, it failed to last a full season. Midway through its initial run, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television — the organization then responsible for regulating the country’s media outlets — ordered that the show be pulled from streaming sites. A year later, in June 2017, the China Netcasting Services Association, a newly established organization subordinate to SAPPRFT, issued regulations mandating the deletion or revision of online programs involving the “presentation or representation of abnormal sexual relationships or acts, including incest, homosexuality, sexual perversion, sexual predation, sexual abuse, and sexual violence.” Homosexuality was thus disparagingly lumped together with incest and sexual violence as something “abnormal” and in need of curtailing. Read the full article here.

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– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.