LGBTQ+ in Anime/Manga
This is a topic in part inspired by the panel at FujoCon but let's expand beyond what just the panel and talk about the topic more in depth.
*Also please note the rules of this forum when posting and let's be respectful of each other.
So I have a lot of thoughts on queer representation in anime and manga. (I'm also thinking only about sexuality here because gender becomes a lot trickier in a lot of ways and feels maybe even more specific to a culture than sexuality does?)
As a ground level kind of thing, I think everyone should be able to see themselves in media, I think it's important. I want to see more gay characters, bi and pan characters, ace characters, etc just present in normal stories that aren't segregated off as "the gay stuff". Tokenism is exhausting.
But! I feel like being too focused on Good Representation can create situations where people feel alienated from stories being told with queer characters despite those characters sharing their identities because people's very real experiences don't always fit the mold of acceptable storytelling. Personally, I vibe harder with subtextual situations and unspoken things in manga more than I do with more explicit stuff from my own country because American stuff sure does only have one way of going about the gay stuff and good luck finding really relatable stuff if you're not a well-off white person with the right haircut in NYC or LA.
I also think that bl specifically has an almost unfairly large burden of expectations re: rep placed on it as a genre by people outside Japan when we really shouldn't be looking to romance to be everything to everyone. Mind, that doesn't mean that we can't ask more of it *as a romance genre*, but when it gets held up as the only gay option period, it's no wonder people get disappointed by its inherent limitations.
All that said, I am so glad that there's been a shift towards more realistic treatments of characters' sexualities in bl because a lot of the old stuff was just gross in the way it was handled, gross towards both gay and bi men and towards women. I don't think women should necessarily have to consider men's views when creating stories about men (because no one consults women when men are writing them, let's be real) and realism shouldn't have to be the end goal of any story, but if you're gonna write stories about explicitly gay characters and have them talk about being gay, it's better to have knowledge of actual experiences for a lot of people's sake. It's not like you can't have interesting stories that don't revolve around identity concerns.