Meet the Fans – Mistress of Yaoi

Greetings and salutations my fellow yaoi and boys love lovers, and welcome to a new series here on Yaoi Playground I am officially calling Meet the Fans. This project began as a simple thought I had last year. There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the kind of people that love boys love and yaoi. Many still see us as the loud an obnoxious fangirls starting flame wars over our favourite ships and attacking the creators of the media we claim to love when they do not make our favourite ships canon. Now I am not going to turn around and say that this kind of behavior never did or never does happen, but I do want to say not all fans are like this, in fact it is a very small very loud minority. Through this project I want to give a voice to the other part of the fandom.

As much as I hate this pic from FunnyJunk.com this is still how many people picture a yaoi fan to be like

There is so much more to this fandom and genre beyond the surface level of fluffy love stories and hardcore smut and of course more to the fans that love this genre than those scary fangirls. I want to change how people see this fandom, to let those outside see the wonderful community that I love so much. To do this I put the word out that I was looking for fellow fans to interview so that I could share their very own fandom stories and experiences with those outside and within the fandom.

I want to start this off with a great big thankyou to everyone who has chosen to take part in this project. With so many others sharing their stories I decided that the first story I would share would be my very own journey within this fandom so welcome to the first ever Meet the Fans with me, your Mistress of Yaoi.

Can you start with a brief introduction of yourself?

Hi, I’m Jamie and I identify as nonbinary, but most people online will know me as Mistress of Yaoi. I am thirty three years old and I have been a fan of yaoi and boys love since I was about nineteen, yeah I was what one might call a late bloomer within the fandom.

That seems a bit hard to believe with an online name like Mistress of Yaoi, can you explain your journey into the world of boys love and yaoi more?

I have always been influenced by LGBTQ+ media ever since I first saw The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Dessert as a child. I loved that movie so much as a child and was never shunned away from accepting those who were different by my parents. I enjoyed stories about those who were seen as the other and was fascinated by seeing a view of the world I had never seen before in media. Then later as a teen I found the tv show late at night called Queer as Folk and it was just a big wow moment for me. As I got older and started spending more time online I discovered the world of fanfiction and fanart and started seeing fics and art of characters that were not canonically together and was like, oh people can do this?

I was probably too young when I first saw this movie but I remember being glued to the screen the entire time, which was rare for me as a kid with ADHD

I even remember the first ship I started shipping at 16, it was Shinji Ikari and Kowaru Nagisa from Neon Genesis Evangelion which I had recently watched. Then when I was either 18 or 19 I purchased my first boys love manga from store in the city, this manga was The Paradise on the Hill by Momoko Tenzen. This manga pulled at my heart like nothing I had ever read before and I was a big bibliophile and comic nerd by this point. I wanted more stories with canon couples like the two in this manga and this is when I fully dove into the rabbit hole that was and still is the yaoi and boys love genre.

What Yaoi or Boys Love title has had the biggest emotional impact on you?

For me that has to be Ai no Kusabi. I first saw the original OVA series in my late teens early twenties and I was instantly in love with the cyberpunk world of the anime as well as the characters within the story. Then by chance I found the first volume of the light novel series online and I purchased it. The first time I read volume 1 Stranger I read the whole novel in a single sitting and I fell in love with the world all over again.

One of my all time favourite pieces of fanart of Katze for Ai No Kusabi

I love stories of forbidden love always have, as well as stories of those fighting against impossible odds plus there are so many inspirational characters within the series. From Riki fighting against his low class mongrel status that he has simply because of where he was born and what he looks like, to Iason learning what it means to love and it does become a sort of love between him and Riki to a real love that is worth fighting for. For me though the most inspirational character is Katze a man whose own backstory and rise to power is proof that when you put your mind to it you can achieve what you aim for and never let those who underestimate you determine your worth in life. I have spent a lot of my life being underestimated by those around me especially when I was a kid and teenager. I have learned as an adult to accept that people are just going to underestimate what I am capable of because of my ADHD they think I am stupid and think they can take advantage of me because of that. I will admit it has not been an easy journey finding my place in the world and in a way I still am forging my own path forward but that is just it like Katze I will keep moving forward.

Have you ever experienced any negativity from being a yaoi/ boys love fan?

Yes, I have unfortunately experienced some negativity for being a yaoi fan, this negativity escalated within an offline anime fan community to the point that I was labeled by those within the group as a pedophile and I want to take this opportunity to share this story with my readers.

Offline I am very shy and awkward with those I do no know. At work I can put on a smile and act like an out going and very bright and happy person, but the truth is in social situations I am very awkward and this was even more so when I was younger. I joined a local offline anime group not long after high school and made friends within the group which made me very happy as I had very few friends during school because I was never interested in what everyone else was into. There were even other yaoi fans within the group and quite often we would talk about the latest anime fansubs we had watched online and other times we would talk about the ships we liked. I never put down others for liking different ships to me and being naïve I thought the others in the group would do the same to me. Little did I know at the time but some people in the group were not happy with the kind of ships I was a fan of at the time, in particular Orochimaru x Naruto which looking back now yeah I can see why that ship would be seen as problematic.

Things came to a head when Boku no Pico was released online and a conversation came up in the group many saying they would never watch it and I responded with something along the lines of “Why? It’s not that bad.” This comment got me some strange looks and after that many people within the group started out right ignoring me and others saying they did not want to be around me anymore. Then I got told by a friend within the group that they did not want me coming to the meet ups anymore because many within the group did not want me around the younger members within the group because they thought I was pedophile. I could not believe what I was being told and thought it was not true but when I finally got others within the group to talk to me they felt the same.

I knew I would never ever touch a child or anyone under the 18 in a sexual way, heck I myself do not even like being hugged by others unless they are family or very close friends. These accusations mentally broke me, to be accused of something so disgusting over something fictional just made me so angry. It took me a long time to put myself out there in any anime community again after that, but slowly over the years I did but even now I still have trust issues with others and letting them in.

To finish this off do you have a message for those out there about the fandom?

Different people like different things even within fandoms. You can be a fan of the same franchise and get a very different enjoyment out of the series. Some people like shipping some don’t. Some people lie canon ships and others like to mix things up with crack ships or just ships that might seem a bit out there to others but that does not make them any less of a fan.

Some people will enjoy stories and games that tackle difficult and triggering subject matters, and this in no way makes them a supporter of the subjects tackled in these stories. Fiction can be a healthy and safe place to explore such subjects without anyone getting hurt. Yes there will be titles out there that you may not approve of, after all I have made my opinion of The Tyrant Falls in Love quite obvious over the years as a title I do not like, but at the end of the day I will not hate others for liking it or reading it and having a different opinion as me. We are all different, we live in different countries are raised in different environments but instead of hating each other for these differences we should instead embrace each other for what we have in common and a common ground a lot of us can share are the fandoms we choose to be a part of.

Judge a person for the kind of person they are and get to know those who are fans of something you might not be a fan of and you never know you might find a new fandom filled with new friends to make.

If you are a boys love/yaoi fan and would like to take part in this project as an interviewee and share your story and are over the age of 18 please feel free to contact me via Twitter @mistressofyaoi or email me with the subject title Meet the Fans at mistress_of_yaoi@hotmail.com

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