Because, apparently, this sort of thing still needs clarification.
I wish I could say I was surprised that there are still people out there who think yuri = lesbian and BL = gay. I’m not; its a very common misconception. However, the fact that an outlet like ANN which, y’know, has people working full-time on this stuff still has people opening their mouths and saying stupid, ignorant things is a bit disappointing. But, I guess that’d be expecting the site to behave like a serious organization, wouldn’t it? Obviously asking too much!
If you follow that link and scroll down, you’ll find a review of episode one of YuruYuri. Let’s ignore the fact that the show is alleged to be more “cutesy” than “sleazy” despite the plethora of panty jokes involving underaged girls. Or that the show is given a three out of five rating even as it is, at best, a third-rate slice of life crapfest barely distinguishable from the parade of these shows we’ve endured as of late. Instead, let’s focus on something very basic: the notion that “yuri” means “lesbian”.
No, actually, is doesn’t. Yuri features homosexual actions, BUT yuri does not mean lesbian. The characters in yuri often aren’t even lesbian themselves, the set-up generally ducking the question entirely with a “if it’s you, it’s okay” explanation or just flat-out refusing to engage on the topic at all. There are absolutely exceptions, but much like how some rectangles are squares but not all squares are rectangles, not all yuri is lesbian. In fact, most of it is not. The same applies to BL, although the divisions between content intended for a non-gay audience (BL) versus a gay audience (bara) are much stronger. Yuri, meanwhile, has begun to encompass some works that are closer to and actually lesbian, such as one finds with the quietly delightful Fu~Fu or the adult-starring Octave. However, the fact remains that things like Strawberry Panic and Shoujo Sect far outstrip the aforementioned examples in prevalence.
So, to review: Candy Boy – not lesbian. Sekai-ichi – not gay.
For further clarification, and before someone says “but that girl is kissing that girl, so they must be lesbians, and so this must be for lesbians”… once upon a time at Anime Boston in April I attended a fantastic panel about LGBT anime and manga. They started off by explaining carefully that yuri and BL are not gay. They pointed out that content does not equal audience, utilizing Chi’s Sweet Home. Is Chi’s Sweet Home meant for adorable little kittens? Nope. Is yuri and BL meant for lesbians and gays? Nope.
I would also point out that in yuri especially the characters are high schoolers in a single-sex environment, which plays into the “lesbian until graduation” trope. Having the girls involved with other girls also means that audiences can enjoy “illicit” moments between the girls without having to worry about them having been “sullied”, since we all know that the only sex that counts is sex which involves a penis.
Moving along in Mr. Martin’s review, there is the equation of “yuri” with “sleaze”. While I would agree that a lot of yuri is sleaze, not all of it is, and to allege that it is is to demonstrate a serious lack of knowledge. But more problematic is that the review has equated “yuri” with “lesbian” and now “yuri” with “sleaze”, which serves to equate “lesbian” with “sleaze”, whether intentional or not (and I would lean toward interpreting this as an unintentional faux paus).
Lesbianism is not sleazy. It is not a performance for the titillation of others. It is not something for one to gawk at in confusion. Lesbianism is a sexual and emotional orientation, an identity, a community. The same all applies to male homosexuality as well. Loving someone is not sleazy. Watching something like YuruYuri because of its “lesbian” content, however, is.
And, really, this gets to the heart of the entire matter – yuri and BL are largely meant as performances for the sexual quirks of mainstream, heterosexual audiences. They are not written with the idea that a gay man will read it and find commonality in it. They are not written with the idea that a lesbian woman will find it interesting to watch. They are meant to thrill heterosexual audiences and nothing more.
So, please, stop pretending that the genre have anything to do with LGBT themes. There may be some gay diamonds in the rough, but there’s a whole lot more rough than anything else.
(As an aside, I would also note that the moral judgment of female enjo kosai participants in the KamiMemo review was also fairly distasteful, although I can’t quite summon the energy necessary to begin the depressing task of explaining why it is paternalistic to differentiate morally between motivations for enjo kosai, particularly when one has never met a girl who participates in the practice.)