Boys Love Media: A Collaborative Workshop on the Future of Gender and Sexuality Studies from SE Asian Perspectives

The Yearbook is a sweet Thai BL series set in the 1990s which explores growing up queer in rural Thailand

As part of the online symposium “Imagining New Futures?: Provocations in Gender and Sexuality Studies” hosted by the Gender and Sexuality Studies Research Network at Deakin University, my frequent collaborators Ms Kwannie Krairit, Dr Kristine M. Santos, and I will be hosting an interactive workshop entitled “Boys Love Media in Thailand and the Philippines: A Collaborative Panel Discussion on the Future of Gender and Sexuality Studies from Southeast Asian Perspectives.”

The panel is an open space to debate and discuss how we can advance theory in Gender and Sexuality Studies from the perspective of recent developments in queer popular culture in Southeast Asia. The media we will be looking at is Boys Love, specifically charting its flow from Japan to Thailand and then on to the Philippines.

Our panel will be held at 3.30pm to 4.30pm Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time (GMT+11), Thursday 11th November. Here is the abstract:

First emerging in Japan, Boys Love (BL) represents a media genre focussing on the romantic and sexual relationships between handsome men that is traditionally consumed by heterosexual women. The COVID-19 pandemic saw an explosion in interest among Asian consumers who discovered the genre after Thai BL series 2gether (เพราะเราคู่กัน, Pror Rao Ku Gan, 2020) trended worldwide on Twitter. In this discussion panel, a collective of ECR research collaborators who have been researching BL media for over a decade introduce this genre and consider its implications for queer representation. After screening a short representative example of a Thai BL series and presenting an overview of the generic logics of BL, each panellist will then speak for five to eight minutes on an aspect of their research into this new media phenomenon. Krairit will commence the panel with an introduction to the history of Thai BL and the emergence of its specific fandom culture. Baudinette will then continue by discussing how Thai BL fandom has spread throughout East and Southeast Asia on the back of new forms of celebrity culture. Santos will conclude by examining how the 2020 Thai BL boom has generated new forms of queer media in the Philippines as well as significant backlash from some queer public intellectuals. The panel will then open for discussion between panellists and audience members concerning how BL can extend theorization in gender and sexuality studies through the lens of Southeast Asian media and fandom culture.

The symposium as a whole looks fascinating – here is a link to the schedule of panels.

Attendance is free, but advance registration via this link is essential.

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