I decided at about mid way last month that all the reviews I posted this pride month on Yaoi Playground would only be titles with good LGBTQ+ representation and when I finally finished reading BJ Alex a few weeks ago by the end I came to an amazing conclusion. This is a hardcore boys love title that shows a very realistic romance between its leads as well as realistic social commentary of the ‘gay experience’ in the modern age. This alone takes this from an amazing title to a modern masterpiece in my opinion when it comes to boys love. Though sex comes quickly in this story and it is the hot scenes that will draw you in, it is the growing romance and character development throughout the series that will keep you coming back for more.
The opening chapters of this manhwa almost feel like a cautionary tale of never meeting your idols, because reality can never live up to the fantasy we have in our head, and in a way this theme continues throughout the entire series. Reality can be harsh and cruel and so can love. First love can be even more complicated when we are still learning about ourselves and who we are and this is certainly true for Nam Dong-Gyun. When it comes to sex he is very naïve at the beginning of the story, but also quietly curious. What starts as an arrangement with his idol BJ Alex as just ‘sex friends’ with the term friend used very loosely soon snowballs emotionally for him when he comes to realize he wants more than just sex and that he has broken the one rule he was given when the arrangement started, don’t fall in love.
BJ Alex, Ahn Jiwon and even the person Ahn is out in public could not be more different from each other, even though they are all the same person, just different masks worn by him. One is the online streamer personality loved by millions of fans for his raunchy livestreams and has a loving attitude towards sex and his own sexual conquest. Ahn Jiwon on the other hand seems perfect to those around him, with his gentle smile and helpful attitude to those around him; but like the mask that BJ Alex wears during his livestreams Jiwon hides the real him behind his smiling mask of perfection. Hidden underneath is a cold angry man who keeps everyone around him at a comfortable distance. As the story continues Ahn Jiwon is the character that gets the most development throughout the story. Through learning about his past, we learn why he keeps people at a distance, why he hates love and why the visage of perfection he hides behind could be doing him more harm than good.
It is the last quarter of the manhwa however that the story goes from amazing to brilliant and there will be spoilers from this point onwards. So if what you have read so far makes you want to go read this manhwa over on Lezhin then please stop here and read the manhwa because I will be spoiling a huge plotline in the later half of the story.
If you were looking for manga with a positive LGBTQ+ message behind it or even representation over a decade ago it would have been near impossible to find, but in recent years there has been a rise of amazing manga that feature a full spectrum of different LGBTQ+ themes and experiences. Some positive and others not so much, but I want to focus on some of the positives for today’s post so I want to share my top 9 LGBTQ+ manga, sadly not all the manga featured here have official English releases, but for those that do I will leave a link to where you can purchase these titles and support the creators, also I have avoided any Yuri or Yaoi titles in this list to let series that really focus on the LGBTQ+ experience shine, but do not worry my readers I have a review coming of a popular yaoi manhwa that I believe has some of the best gay representation I have seen in the genre!
9 – I Wanna be Your Girl by Umi Takase
I would have loved to have put this amazing manga higher on the list, but sadly it has no official English release so I had to put it at the bottom which is a shame because this is one amazing read about being true to yourself and standing up for your friend. It tells the story of Hime and Akira who are childhood friends. At age 12 Akira reveals to her friend Hime that they identify as a girl and starts dressing as such at school which begins a cycle of bullying from the other students with Hime fervently standing up for her best friend. I like this manga for its realistic depictions of the bullying that someone can face when being true to themselves and how things can be just a little bit easier when you have a great friend by your side and I also love the blossoming romance between the two leads.
8. I Think Our Son is Gay by Okura
This is a really cute slice of life manga about a very normal family, the hard working husband, the doting wife and their two boys. The manga is told from the point of view of the mother of the boys who is quite sure her oldest son is gay and she is ok with that, even if her son has not openly come to terms with it yet. This is very much a slice of life comedy manga with the punchline of each chapter being I Think Our Son is Gay. Not every piece of LGBTQ+ media needs to have a deeper meaning behind it, sometimes its just the struggles of a young gay boy as witnessed by his mother who still loves him no matter what his choices in life may be and that in itself is such a positive message. You can purchased either physically or digitally on Amazon.
7. My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness by Nagata Kabi
This manga, hits in a different way or at least it did for me because it is not just about a lesbian experience it is a deep dive into the stigma of mental disorders and the mental health system Japan and it is also a title I put off reading for so long because I myself have my own stigma when it comes to reading stories that are female to female romance and not just yuri because of my own past baggage. The story follows the tale of a woman coming to terms with her sexuality in a society that shuns not only her for that but also mental illness and is a very powerful read. It can be purchased from Seven Seas Entertainment‘s official site or from or bought physically or digitally from Amazon.
6. The Bride Was a Boy by Chi
This autobiographical manga is one I do not see too many people talking about anywhere online which is a shame because it is such a beautiful story. Like My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness this is a manga based on the life of the author, though it is a more uplifting story in my opinion. It reads like a manga diary telling the story of Chi as she learns who she is finds acceptance within herself and finding her loving happing ending as the beautiful bride she always wanted to be.
5. Love me for Who I Am by Kata Konayama
As soon as I found out this manga was about a non binary character I got so excited because I had never seen a character like this in a manga and if you have read my review for the first volume you will know that yes I do love the characters and discussions on the different spectrums of gender that come up in this title, but it is not a perfect title. It is a good start for non binary representation though and that is why it is on this list. I bought my copy of this manga digitally through Bookwalker but you can also buy a physical copy through Amazon.
4. Our Dreams At Dusk by Yuhki Kamatani
Being a teenager is hard, it does not matter what sexuality you are it is hard; but being not straight can make it a hell of a lot harder. After being publicly outed after his classmates find gay porn on his phone Tahsuku Kaname is ready to just end it all, he is standing on the edge ready to jump but then he sees someone else jump and this is what begins his journey into finding that much needed support system that everyone needs in their lives whether they be gay, straight or otherwise.
3. Wandering Son by Takako Shimura
I can not talk about positive LGBTQ+ representation without mentioning Wandering Son and the next entry on the list, in fact I had a hard time originally deciding whether this title or the next one would be number 1 on this list until I discovered the manga that took the number one spot at the beginning of Pride month. The main focus on Wandering Son is of the character of Shuichi and Yoshino two trans kids one wanting to transition to a girl and the other boy. What I love most about this title is the fact that we see the journey of two different trans kids and the differences that can come from transitioning between male to female and female to male. I do not know if it is just me, but I do feel that trans boys and trans men are really under represented in stories of transition in fiction as well as when it comes to docuseries about transgender kids. Many of the trans friends I have love this series in both the manga and anime though I have to agree with one of my friends in that you get a more complete story with the manga.
2. My Brother’s Husband by Gengoroh Tagame
I love this manga. Not only is it one of my favourite manga, but it is also one of my all time favourite pieces of literature. Written and illustrated by one of best bara manga authors there are Gengoroh Tagame it tells the story of single father Yaichi and his adorable daughter Kana as they both meet the Canadian husband of Yaichi’s now deceased twin brother Ryoji who Yaichi had grown distant since his brother’s coming out. Through Yaichi and Kana’s eyes we see the stigma that homosexual men face in Japan and the different in perceptions generations can have when seeing something new in their lives. It is a manga with a very positive but realistic message behind it with lessons in bigotry, homophobia, acceptance and learning to see the world through the innocence of a child again when it comes to accepting others, a theme I explored when I wrote about the manga a few years ago now. I bought my copy of this amazing manga through an Australian site called Booktopia which is a site I use to buy a lot of manga here in Australia besides Amazon, and speaking of Amazon you can buy the series digitally there for you Kindle.
1. Until I Meet My Husband by Tsukizuki Yoshi and Nanasaki Ryosuke
Activism for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community is what started Pride, we all know about the Stonewall Riots of June, 1969 and of Marsha P Johnson and the work this amazing trans woman of colour did to begin bringing civil rights to the American LGBTQ+ community, but what do you know about the activists that have fought for those same rights in Japan?
Telling the story of a young man from the time he realizes his gay to his wedding day, this is a manga about self acceptance and fighting for your rights and someone please pick up the license for this absolutely amazing manga! If I had to choose one manga that is a perfect representation of pride it is this manga right here! I just wish I could find out more information in English about the man who this manga is about. It tells the life of a young gay man’s journey through life in Japan and his path to gay activism in the country and that is why it is my number 1 pick for a read this month!
Hello my fellow LGBTQ+ yaoi and boys love lovers and welcome to pride month here on Yaoi Playground. To those who I new here, even though online I go by your very own Mistress of Yaoi that is only one part of me as I also identify as non-binary, so of course that means this month I will be sharing some of my favourite positive representation this month in the reviews and posts I share and I want to start of this month with a great big thankyou to Nickelodeon and to those in the know you will know why!
As a millennial I grew up watching the original Blue’s Clues on Nick Jr as a kid and teenager, yes I watched shows like this as a teen because I have younger siblings. Anyway I was unaware that the show had recently been rebooted for a new generation as Blue’s Clues & You and that a certain clip from the show has recently gone viral. They made a song about Pride and family representation and from what I am seeing online I am not the only one who near broke down (and in some cases did) in tears at the level of representation in this song and the positive message it is spreading of families coming in all types. I would have been happy with it showing families with two dads, two mums and supporting there trans kids but it is so much more than that. The song also includes representation of ace and non binary as well as chosen and found families!
Of course not everyone is happy about this inclusion in a kid show. You have the typical homophobic groups accusing the show of showing themes that are inappropriate for the target audience. To them I say, what is so inappropriate about representing all types of families? We live in a day and age where not all children come from a household with a mum and a dad. This is not just about representation for the adults who make up these kinds of families but the kids who grow up in them.
So once again I want to give a big thankyou to Nickelodeon. You were such a big part of my childhood growing up and to see them with such progressive content like this for a new generation is such amazing work!