I was fourteen when I read Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown. Before that, homosexuality and bisexuality were vaguely alien concepts to me. Before that, the scorn that most people in my culture harbored toward gay individuals seemed perfectly normal. Rubyfruit Jungle was an eye-opener. Suddenly, I became acutely aware of the intolerance that runs rampant in Jamaican society.
We studied Shakespeare in the tenth grade. I remember reading Romeo and Juliet and being convinced that Mercutio was secretly in love with Romeo. That was the theory that I voiced to my teacher in Literature class. She vehemently denied any such thing and promptly changed the subject.
That experience did nothing to abate my curiosity.
In 2004, an avid fan of Japanese anime, I went shopping for anime DVDs at a local video store. One title in particular caught my eye: Mirage of Blaze. The clerk was somewhat hesitant, stating that she liked the title but perhaps, it was not for everyone. I went home and watched the first volume, then I went back to the store and bought the rest of the series.
My next purchase was volume one of the anime series, Gravitation, the story of Shuichi Shindou, a member of an up and coming band who falls in love with the famous romance novelist, Eiri Yuki. Interest piqued, I went online to find out when the next DVD volume would be released.
A whole new world opened up for me.
I quickly learned the meaning of words like YAOI and Shounen Ai (Boys Love). Pretty soon, I became a member of a little community you may have heard of: Aarinfantasy.
At first, I stuck to anime. I was reluctant to explore manga of any kind. It took me a few years to move past that reluctance, but move past it, I did. These days, I’ll read just about any SF or YAOI manga that I can get my hands on. I especially like the works of Yamamoto Kotetsko, but there are so many more that I couldn’t possibly list them all.
I would be remiss not to mention HamletMachine’s Starfighter series. SF and YAOI. It’s some seriously awesome stuff.
Over time, I learned the meaning of another word: fujoshi. I believe that popular use of the word “fujoshi” originated as a self-pejorative term meaning “rotten girl”, in reference to young women who like YAOI works; though I must point out that YAOI and Shounen Ai works actually target the female demographic. Fans of the genre embrace the word with a mildly self-deprecating sort of levity.
To outsiders, this little “hobby” of ours might seem incomprehensible, and that’s okay. We like what we like, and we’re not seeking to be understood. At the end of the day, YAOI and Shounen Ai are here to stay and so are fujoshi.