NSFW Warning: I’ve posted pictures below, but please be advised that while I refrained from uploading anything really dirty, some of them may not be appropriate for work.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to one of my sixth-graders after class about anime, which is a guilty pleasure of mine (see my former post). The conversation was revolving around Katekyo Hitman Reborn and my student’s two favorite characters, Hibari and Tsunayoshi. Suddenly, her voice dropped to a whisper, and her eyes peered around the room searching for eavesdroppers before she said, “Mackensie-sensei, do you know boy love?”
Now, if this sentence had come from my middle school boys, I could have guessed the rest of the conversation, but an elementary school girl wanting to have a conversation about “boy love” is intriguing, so I continued the conversation.
“Yes, I do. Why?”
“Hibari and Tsunayoshi boy love comic books. Very nice.”
“Where did you get boy love comics?”
“Boy love” (or BL, for short) is an entire genre of writing in Japan that features a romance between two male characters. Boy love shouldn’t be confused with gay romance novels, which are a separate category. Rather than a product by and for the gay community, boy love is created by and marketed to women.
Boy love runs the gamut from the innocent love stories that my students enjoys reading, to hardcore erotica that has to be kept in the “adults only” section of book stores. Novels are available, but are probably less popular than manga, which is a Japanese style comic book.
Recently, I’ve learned that quite a few of my female students are into boy love. Acquiring this information was like pulling teeth, though. None of the girls wants to admit to liking BL, and when they are finally coerced into a conversation, they can only say a few whispered sentences before being overcome by embarrassment.