The truth about Danmei

A Chinese teengirl craze for homoerotic comic books is giving gender and sexuality theorists something to talk about. Lingxiao Song, who was a teenage girl in China, digs into the trend

The truth about Danmei
24 September 2012

Danmei, gay fiction graphic novels, are huge in China right now. Girls in high school are reading them. Girls in college are reading them. Girls working in office are reading them.

Often featuring explicit sexual encounters between men, Danmei has an enormous fangirl readership.

And as well as reading them, young women are writing the homoerotic literature. In April, a Danmei website was shutdown because it was deemed pornographic, and most of the 30 writers for the site were found to be teenage girls.

‘It’s interesting. It’s beautiful. It’s sentimental. It’s heart-breaking. That’s why I love Danmei,’ Jia Xiao, an 18-year-old high school student told Gay Star News. She said stories of homosexual love appeal because girls are tired of reading traditional heterosexual love stories.

Back in the mid-1990s, Japanese comic books flooded into China’s comic market. Some of these, like Keguiyinuo and Tokyo Babylon, had homoerotic content aimed at young women. Called Yaoi or Boys’ Love in Japan, the genre was named Danmei in China and was first popular in southern costal areas. As access to the internet spread all over China, fangirls set up Danmei sites and shared comics and stories. Now those who grew-up reading Danmei are writing comics for specialist publishers.

Characters in Danmei are always handsome, passionate and daring. The stories often have exciting plots and exotic settings. For young people growing up in China today, the stories satisfy a lust for adventure their parents don’t understand.

Does Danmei’s popularity mean these fangirls are homosexual or bisexual themselves? Are they concerned about LGBT people at all? Most of Danmei fans are straight, but we spoke to one bisexual girl.

Disappointingly, most fans do not care much about LGBT people in real life. Some barely know what does each letter in ‘LGBT’ means. The fans we spoke to do not particularly care about improving LGBT rights.

‘It’s probably hard for LGBT people to find their standing in China,’ said Hong Yan, a 21-year-old college student. ‘Maybe fangirls support them, but I don’t have personal opinion them.’

Most of the fangirls we spoke to said LGBT rights were none of their business. The few who said they do support gay rights said they would not go to a Pride event.

Although Danmei fans do not have a much awareness of LGBT issues, it is still a positive step that at least now they know gay men exist.

However, two girls we spoke to said they worry where the open-mindedness of Danmei might lead.

Mo Fei, a 22-year-old college student said:

‘Fans just want to try new things, so they imitate the books and have one-night stands, sex without protection. They don’t think about the consequences.’  

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

Claims Atlanta NYE stabber was responding to anti-gay attack

There are claims that a young man charged over a stabbing incident at a New Years Eve house party in Atlanta, Georgia, was defending himself against a homophobic attack but his supporters are refusing to cooperate with police
No thumbnail available

American Idol goes to Washington? Clay Aiken's bid for seat in US congress still up in the air

Openly gay singer holds slight lead in Democratic primary in North Carolina
Gay Star News builds global audience

Gay Star News builds global audience

The news service that is being read around the world
No thumbnail available

In a historic first, Boy Scouts will lead NYC Pride March

Gay scouts past and present and their allies to participate in oldest LGBTI pride event in the US
No thumbnail available

Italian gay disabled people star in documentary

The creators of Sesso, Amore & Disabilità are trying to raise funds to compete to national festivals
No thumbnail available

Around the world (and out of a plane) with X Factor's Kitty Brucknell

The Lady Gaga darling takes GSN readers around the world in seven questions, and on one epic sky dive in the music video for her new single Glitter in the Sky
No thumbnail available

X Factor lesbian Jade Ellis denies crush on rival

X Factor favorite Lucy Spraggon's mom reveals her gay daughter wanted to be a boy at school
No thumbnail available

Jamaican bisexual asylum seeker 'forced' to share gay sex pictures to UK officials

In a desperate attempt to prove he was telling the truth, Orashia Edwards said he was forced to take explicit pictures of him and his boyfriend
No thumbnail available

Born This Way co-director mourns murder of activist Eric Lembembe in Cameroon

Shaun Kadlec: 'He was a pillar of the LGBT community there and was maybe the most outspoken person who was arguing for legalization of homosexuality'
No thumbnail available

Same-sex marriage and anti-gay protestors scuffle in Taiwan

Pro and anti-gay-marriage protestors attended rival rallies in Taipei’s Freedom Square on Sunday as a bill to legalize same-sex marriage is before Taiwan’s legislative chamber