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Why This Gay Man Is Creating Yaoi

August 20, 2006 | | Comments 14 |

Recently, in private correspondence, a woman asked me this question:

You want to make Yaoi? Why? I think I’d like to see you make something by a gay man for a gay man that might appeal to me on my level. 0_0.

Even though I’ve tried to address the larger issue of this in previous posts, this question brings up a specific point that I feel is worth responding to.

I’ve been gay my entire life. I get all the memos, talk the talk, walk the walk and even got the T-Shirt. So, I have a pretty good idea what gay boys like and could certainly write to this audience in a way that would speak to them not only directly, but specifically. And by specifically, I mean with all the inside knowledge, the in-jokes and the experience of someone who has grown up a homo in an intolerant culture.

Of course my comics will be written “by a gay man,” but I guess when I think of writing “for a gay man” what that means to me is that I’m writing with the expectation of specific shared experiences and a specific appeal. And while I do hope other gay guys dig what I write, the stories I want to tell are ultimately for a larger, more inclusive audience.

Writing specifically for other gay people (and this includes lesbians, too) can be very fun, rewarding and challenging (just trying to create an interesting new take on the done-to-death coming out story requires Herculean creative chops) — and I’m sure in time I’ll have stories to share that will be “just for us gays” — but the comics I am looking to publish right now don’t require inside knowledge of what it’s like to be gay or specifically address issues that exclusively concern gay people.

They are action-romances where yes, guys love each other and try to protect each other and kiss and get naked and a whole lot more — and I want to tell those stories in a way that can turn on a straight woman in Florida as much as a gay guy here in San Francisco. We can speculate until the cows come home about what makes a yaoi work “yaoi”, but the one thing that seems to be consistent between all the different definitions is who your audience is.

Every writer should be keeping their audience in mind when telling their stories. For me, as I am writing my scripts, I see my readers consisting of women, gay guys and very cool straight guys — but especially women. (In fact, there is a particular woman I keep in mind, but that’s a whole other tale..)

I like yaoi stories. I like the people who like yaoi stories. And if you like other yaoi books, I think you are going to like my books.

I do hope my stories will appeal to you “on your level.” But they aren’t just for other gay men or even primarily for other gay men. As I said in a previous post, one thing I like about creating yaoi is its potential to allow everyone to celebrate gay love — both its special and universal qualities. Maybe my flavor of yaoi will feel a bit more inclusive than other creators’ — I’m just fine with that — but I’m not interested in finding ways to limit my audience or exclude others from what’s cool about a guy loving another guy. In fact, it’s just the opposite. My goal as a creator is to bring disparate groups together and to expand people’s understanding of one another. I personally believe I can do that while showing them a good time and my chosen genre for making this happen is yaoi.

You’re going to see me make something by a gay man for a yaoi audience. They don’t seem to have a T-shirt for that, but where I’d like to see us go, I’m hoping we won’t need them.


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Filed Under: CommunityPublishingYaoi 911Yaoi in General

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About the Author: Filmmaker by day, yaoi creator by night, Alex has dedicated himself to helping cute guys fight evil and find love.

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  1. presser_kun says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I was beginning to think I was the only gay man who liked yaoi. I sort of resent the stereotypical view (there are so many!) of — of, well, anybody, really. But the view I'm thinking of here is that stories of sweet love between boys isn't for gay boys, gay men, or much of anyone but straight women.

    I'm gay, proud, and a yaoi-lover.

    Thanks for encouraging me, even though that wasn't your intent!

    peace,

    press

  2. Hey Press,

    Glad I could offer a little encouragement and let you know that you aren't alone. ;-) I actually have the first story ("A Shot in the Dark") ready to post online, colored and lettered and everything. So keep checking in — I'll be posting it in sections (first just the colored pages, then finally the fully lettered pages, both with the usual [hopefully interesting] commentary about the process) over the next couple of months. So hopefully I'll be able to add another comic to the list of yaoi stories you like…

    And I'll also be posting up the character designs for the 2nd comic in the book, a sci-fi story: "Artifice" which Winona is doing the pencils for as well — and I think you'll like what you see there, too. Cartoon boys in their underwear — whee! :-)

    Thanks for commenting!

    Alex

  3. viceroy says:

    hey I’m gay and like yaoi to, as a matter of fact it was the first form of gay art i find, but I still like it a lot. I'm also make some yaoi webcomics wanabe, and I found out that most of my readers are girls, so I was feeling very lonely, glad to see some guys who like yaoi as well, I'm totally support your cause.

    Keep the good work

    ald

  4. Ald,

    Thanks for the encouragement — it's much appreciated! And you are definitely not alone — there are lot of us. ;-)

    Alex

  5. ButterflyFomori says:

    *Le sigh* Damn society trying to pigeon hole people! Why so many boxes and why are they all square? Heeeelp!

    I make a conscious effort (fight, more like) to retrain and keep my brain running on i-am-who-i-am-so-explore-and-embrace-it-all thought patterns.

    Rock on, my friend, rock on.

    You mentioned in another post to myself to 411 my friends on the Yaoi911. I only have online friends (real life, I'm surrounded mostly by people I hesitate to share myself and my subculture views around for fear of that freakin' ol' raised eyebrow of judgement. NOooooo! Not the eyebrow! Aaaaahhhh!)

    This This is the best I can do for you! :) If you have a Livejournal.com account and friend me (MightyMaeve), you'll see my little entry on you fabulous site and more! If not, let me know, and I'll send you an email of what I wrote.

  6. ButterflyFomori says:

    Sorry for the structural mistakes in the above comment! (Typing on stream-of-conciousness = embarrasing mistakes.) I also wanted to clarify, so as not to make you think i am pathetic, that i DO have valued friends that are sweet, supportive and open-minded beauties, but they are not of the art-words-reading-yaoi-raving-obsession type. (Speaking of obsessions, I am so damn in love with brackets and hyphens.) **Off to read more of your articles.**

  7. Ah, yes, the dreaded raised eyebrow of judgment. Fear it! ;-)

    I'm glad you found this post interesting. Yeah, it does seem a little contradictory to encounter intolerance from folks who are into something as outside of mainstream's norms as yaoi, but the truth is, I've only encountered it a couple of times. As I've said here and other places, the vast majority of yaoi fans I've met and interacted with are completely delightful. And it's interactions like that which keep the enthusiasm up for a project that, frankly, takes a fair bit of time to reach completion. <— (feels like running a marathon somedays pant, pant) :-D

    As for LiveJournal, I do have an account there — but only to check out other people's accounts. I haven't posted or anything. But I did friend you — alexwoolfson is my account name — so if you want to friend me back, it'd be cool to check out that post. :-)

    Be well — and I hope you continue to enjoy the site.

    Alex

  8. nyves104 says:

    Can I just tell you how awesome you are? I just finished reading "Tough" after stumbling upon this site, and I absolutely loved it. And gay men writing yaoi? I adore the idea. Boy-on-Boy action from someone who's actually had boy-on-boy action? It's very refreshing. Fell in love with the idea a couple months ago when I picked a book called "Alex in Wonderland" at a secondhand bookstore. I love yaoi and I love boys who love yaoi <3 And again, Mr. Woolfson, you are amazing and already have a top spot among my favorite yaoi authors.

    Much love,

    Reggie

  9. @nyves104

    Wow, thank you so much, Reggie! I'm so glad you enjoyed "Tough"! And to hear that I've earned a top spot among your favorite yaoi authors — well, that's tremendously flattering. :-D

    Thank you very much for letting me know what you thought and for your support. I really hope you like the other comics we'll be offering this year — and hope to see you here again!

    Hugs,

    Alex

  10. Alex,

    I’ve read three or four of your entries re. how you came up with yaoi911, your ‘story’ and stories, and some ‘debatable’ things about yaoi as a genre–entries which I thought interesting, very interesting. BTW, the ‘911’ thing is genius! ^_^

    Honestly, I found the discussion of drawing the border line between yaoi and gay comics and of ‘written-by-and-for-women/men/gay’ quite… exhausting (or is it just me? ^_^). Anyhoo, some* conventions suck and I admired your courage to take 3 ‘big’ steps from the border (I remember, you’ve mentioned about having ‘three strikes’ or anything like that).

    I think, the most beautiful thing about you and your view about these issues goes with this line:

    “I do hope my stories will appeal to you “on your level.” But they aren’t just for other gay men or even primarily for other gay men. As I said in a previous post, one thing I like about creating yaoi is its potential to allow everyone to celebrate gay love — both its special and universal qualities. Maybe my flavor of yaoi will feel a bit more inclusive than other creators’ — I’m just fine with that — but I’m not interested in finding ways to limit my audience or exclude others from what’s cool about a guy loving another guy. In fact, it’s just the opposite. My goal as a creator is to bring disparate groups together and to expand people’s understanding of one another. I personally believe I can do that while showing them a good time and my chosen genre for making this happen is yaoi.”

    So beautiful. Kudos Alex!!! Padayon!!!**

    *’some’ because without these conventions, one would no longer point what, say, a poem is and what’s not.

    **a Filipino word which means continue, keep going ^_^

    • Hey John!

      Man, you say the sweetest things. ::blush:: And I haven’t thought about writing that line for a long time—but it definitely does represent what I’m trying to do here. I’m really glad it’s something you connect with. Today I’ve just been thinking about how one of the most awesome things about starting Yaoi 911 is finding out how many other folks are interested in making the world a more tolerant, accepting place—through comics! Just thinking about that makes me happy.

      You make really thoughtful points. And with “padayon!”, you’ve given me an awesome new work to use in my comics! :D

      I really appreciate you taking the time to comment!

      • Alex,

        O, thank you ^_^! I really appreciated your response.

        You are a beautiful man Alex, you are, and the world is in need of ‘beautiful’men (and women) like you.

        P.S. I deemed it necessary to comment on some things… I guess, as compared to Tough (I know, it’s too early to compare since the story is still unfinished), Shot in the Dark, though a fantastic story, placed gay relationship under the spotlight of ‘justice’ and ‘discipline.’ I know, I’m not in the position to tell what’s ‘good’ or not (and I’d like to point out that I’m not speaking of morals here, I myself have a ‘deconstructed’ standard of morals and morality) BUT I’d like to stress that Shot in the Dark – the story and the characters (I admired them!)- on my opinion, is ‘telling’ the readers that gay relationship isn’t all about sex and pleasure. There’s the discipline in narrating/visualizing the bed scene. Your beautiful characters expressed their love (which is so ‘passionate,’ that makes me envious) to each other not by merely physical contact but their ‘simple’ actions (especially the junior apprentice). The story turned out ‘fair’ to gay couples out there… and that’s what Tough, I think, must ‘tell,’ too (I consider the fact that the protagonists of the story are ‘not yet lovers’). The story is not yet finished, I’m excited to see the rest, and that’s why I’ll keep in touch with you and yaoi911! ^_^

        Red roses for a beautiful yaoi writer and publisher. His name is Alex ^_^

  11. Streetwalker says:

    I feel compelled to comment and just say thank you. It really made me downright relieved to read this.

    I love yaoi and I confess I enjoy m/m erotica more than I do heterosexual. I just feel guilty for it sometimes because of all the bad wrap yaoi gets for objectifying gay men. As someone who has become more open-minded and tolerant through reading BL, I believe it is so much more and has a far greater value than just indulging a silly fantasy.

    So, thank you! To be sure, “to bring disparate groups together and to expand people’s understanding of one another” is a worthy goal and you have my respect and full support for it!

  12. kaycee1967 says:

    Alex,

    You’re not the only gay man that likes Yaoi… I have over 300 books sitting on book shelves (some stacked because I need more) with Yaoi/Yaoi-romance.

    Being single again for the past three years (was collecting before), it has been my outlet for my mind in romance.

    It also has the added benefit to inspire me as a writer and continue my works. Although I have lost readers due to the economy and the websites that I once posted (at one time nearing 10K readers) and I have slowed down a bit with returning to school, I like to continue my writing because it is part of me. It gives me hope and I look to give hope to others in the LGBT community.

    TJay

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