Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

3 - Loving Boys Love in South Asia: A (Mostly) Internet Romance

Saturday, July 7
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Kadamba, Lower Ground Floor

Anime fandom in South Asian countries is still in its fledgling stages, given their late exposure and limited opportunities for growth. Within this, already niche populations are the consumers and producers of the male homoerotic genre boys love (BL), who occupy a doubly marginal space. The challenges to studying BL readership across South Asia are similar; whether India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka, conservative societies and varying socio-economic backgrounds of BL fans limit their willingness to openly participate in both BL fandom itself and research thereof.


BL readers and producers in South Asia have almost uniformly taken to the Internet as a space for their activities, whether producing art and fan fiction, or participating in text-based anime role-playing games with distinctly BL leanings on platforms such as Livejournal. The performative nature of the latter and its popularity among the BL fans in the subcontinent are particularly worth examining. One is led to question, then, on the one hand how the exposure to, consumption of, and participation in BL fandom helped fans negotiate their own attitudes towards sex and sexuality, particularly while located in spaces where the mere discussion of these matters is considered taboo. On the other, we can also question how their socio-economic or ethnic identities play into the texts that they produce. In this paper, I attempt to answer these questions while giving an overview of BL fandom in South Asia.

Lakshmi Menon

HHMSPB NSS College for Women, India

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