Opinion: Why is BL Getting More Popular with Our Teenagers?


Justina (Yijia) Liu, Staff Writer

Boys’ love (BL) is a genre where the main plotline is a romance between two male characters instead of the societal norm, one male and one female. It has blown up in TV shows, movies, and manga in the past two decades and even more recently with the increased usage of social media. While BL has existed in Japan for decades, it has only recently gained mainstream popularity outside of Japan.

Increased representation may be one of the reasons for its popularity. BL provides representation for LGBTQ+ individuals who have long been underrepresented in mainstream media. BL stories often feature male characters in romantic relationships, which can resonate with LGBTQ+ teenagers who may be exploring their own sexual orientation or gender identity. The portrayal of diverse relationships and identities in BL can help them feel seen and accepted and has increased its popularity.

BL stories often focus on themes which can be relatable and emotionally resonant for teenagers. These stories often depict intense emotional bonds between male characters,and the exploration of their relationships can be appealing to teenagers who are navigating their own relationships during their formative years.

“I love their romance stories. Unlike the stories that are more common and fit to the norm, I feel like their stories, which often have to overcome society norms to be together, portray their love greater and makes me sympathize with them even when I did not go through the same thing” said junior Shuhao Chen. 

Another factor contributing to BL’s popularity is the rise of social media and online communities. Online platforms such as Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram allow BL fans to connect with each other and share their love of the genre. This sense of community can be especially important for teenagers who may feel isolated or misunderstood in their offline lives.

BL often presents idealized and romanticized relationships that can serve as a form of escapism for teenagers. The fictional nature of BL stories allows teenagers to immerse themselves in a fantasy world where they can explore different types of relationships and experiences, free from the constraints of reality. Boy’s Love’s escapist storylines and vaguely androgynous actors were an instant hit with audiences seeking to block out a depressing reality that they might be facing with their lives, such as Covid and the political tensions surrounding the world. 

“I love The Husky and His White Cat Shizun, the story is very interesting and realistic. It really hit my soul,and unlike movies, I was able to be really impacted by it,” said junior Emily Yen. 

The internet and social media has also played a significant role in the growing popularity of BL among teenagers. Online communities and fan culture surrounding BL have provided spaces for fans to connect, share content, and express their enthusiasm for the genre. This online engagement has helped to amplify the popularity of BL among teenagers and create a sense of community and belonging.

BL also provides a space for teenagers to explore their own sexuality and identity in a safe and supportive environment. BL stories offer a way for readers to explore these ideas and concepts without fear of judgment or discrimination. It is also a way for readers to explore these ideas privately because they can read BL privately. For those who feel uncomfortable talking to others about their sexuality and identity, this provides a private sphere for them to figure it out. In this sense, BL can be seen as a form of self-discovery and empowerment for young people.

However, there are potential risks and challenges associated with the growing popularity of BL among teenagers. Some critics argue that BL reinforces harmful stereotypes about LGBTQ+ individuals and relationships, and that it can be damaging to the mental health and wellbeing of young readers and viewers. Others worry that teenagers may not fully understand the nuances of healthy relationships and consent in BL stories, and that they may internalize problematic messages about power dynamics and gender roles. While BL can provide a valuable space for self-exploration and community building, it’s also important to recognize the potential risks and challenges associated with the genre, and to promote critical thinking and responsible consumption among young readers and viewers.

BL, like any other media genre, can have both positive and negative impact on teenagers. It’s essential for parents, educators, and teenagers themselves to engage in critical discussions about media consumption, including BL, to understand its content, themes, and potential impact. It is important to acknowledge and respect the interests and experiences of teenagers who are drawn to BL, while also promoting responsible consumption of media and fostering understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in all aspects of society.


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