Investigating the activist potentials of “gay manga” in Japan and the Philippines

Tagame Gengoroh’s recent memoir-cum-LGBT activist manifesto

As part of the international workshop Modes of Activism under Authoritarian Governance Regimes in the Asia-Pacific that I have organised with colleagues at Macquarie University, I will be giving a presentation entitled “Investigating the activist potentials of “gay manga” in Japan and the Philippines” on Thursday 14th November.

Here is the abstract:

This presentation explores how queer popular culture texts can operate as a form of artistic activism within heteronormative and homophobic social contexts. Specifically focussing on the manga comics produced by Japanese gay erotic artist Tagame Gengoroh, I reveal the activist potentials of comics in spaces where traditional interventionist LGBT activism and consciousness-raising has often been viewed as either ineffective or too confrontational. Situating Tagame within a broader history of tōjisha (directly concerned) gay cultural critics and activists in Japan, I explore how his mainstream work Otōto no Otto (My Brother’s Husband, 2015-2017 acts as both a pedagogical tool that confronts homophobia in Japan as well as challenges other heteronormative values such as the nuclear family. Turning my gaze to the Philippines, I then draw upon interviews with social media influencers from the fledgling Pinoy “bear” community to elucidate how Tagame’s erotic and pornographic work is used to educate both broader Filipino society about LGBT concerns as well as address issues of body-shaming in the Philippines’ gay male community. Uniting the two case studies, I argue that Tagame has emerged as an important activist voice concerning LGBT issues globally, charting his rise as a cultural critic in both Japan and abroad.

For those interested, the full workshop programme can be downloaded here: AsiaActivism_Programme_final

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