GAY INTIMACY, YAOI AND THE ETHICS OF CARE
Pp. 192-221 (30)
This chapter takes up Halberstam’s invitation to creatively engage with
subjugated knowledges, and does so for the specific purpose of rethinking gay intimacy.
Models of gay male intimacy appear to be largely polarized between a heteronormative
quasi-marital paradigm and a counter-normative hedonistic one. Engaging with texts
belonging to the yaoi subculture—a genre of Japanese comics and animation characterized
by a thematic focus on male same sex desire, but produced by heterosexual women for a
heterosexual female audience—may help us promote an intrinsically valuable diversity of
practices of intimacy. The epistemological horizon provided by yaoi involves intriguing
and significant differences from the marital and hedonistic models of mainstream gay
culture across two main understandings of ‘intimacy’: intimacy as sex and intimacy as
familiarity. Furthermore yaoi, being produced by women for women, is perhaps more likely
to reflect an understanding of male same sex intimacy premised on an ethics of care when
compared to the models of intimacy emerging from within gay male culture. If the marital
and hedonistic models reflect, in different ways, a quintessentially male way of
conceptualizing intimacy, then decentring their dominance and making space for alternative
scripts such as those offered by yaoi may enrich our conceptualizations of intimacy and
afford a more balanced (less gendered) range of options in the realm of relationality.
Subjugated knowledges such as yaoi may offer normative and aesthetic horizons alternative
to mainstream Gay, enabling the project of re-envisioning male same sex intimacy. Kane
Race provides a response to this chapter.
Gay, intimacy, heteronormative, yaoi, Japanese comics, hedonism, counternormative,
gay sex, desire, gay culture.
University of Reading.