Favorite Gay Couple in Non- BL Queer Media

While non-BL media aren’t exactly representative of the queer culture, quite a few shows in the recent years have daringly showcased the life struggles of the LGBTQ community. The portrayal might be subtle, but it is nevertheless there and strongly hints at the beginnings of a revolutionary phase that might herald a change in the coming years. In today’s feature, our authors will be sharing information about such exemplary characters/couples!

Drama_Llama’s Favorites

I’ll be honest, most of the non-BL/GL dramas/films I watch don’t have as many queer couples as they do gay characters I find myself drawn to. For me, it’s often more about the representation in non-BL/GL series/films than romance. Representation means breaking barriers and stereotypes, opening the doors for more significant stories and main lead, mainstream stream gay romantic projects. So, while some of these are couples that stood out, most are single characters that have stuck with me. It would honestly take me all day to list every gay couple/character in a non-queer-promoted project that I love, so instead, I will list a few that immediately come to mind.

Itaewon Class – South Korea

There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing trans representation on screen and nothing more powerful than seeing a trans character publicly stand up for herself. No apologies. No regrets. That’s precisely what the Korean drama Itaewon Class gave us. While it didn’t delve deeply into a romantic relationship for the transgender Ma Hyun-Yi (Lee Joo-Young), it did hint at a burgeoning romance between her and Choi Seung-Kwon (Ryoo Kyung-Soo). And it gave us a transgender character who spends much of the series becoming comfortable with her identity and choices.

Stranger Things – United States

The Stranger Things phenomenon is a phenomenon for a reason. It’s an intense series that is easy to become invested in. While there aren’t any gay romances, Robin Buckley (Maya Hawke) is an openly lesbian character who stole my heart. While she isn’t confident about capturing the heart of the girl she crushes on, she is optimistic about herself and her friendships. She’s strong, loyal, intelligent, and witty. She steals every scene she is in. She’s a positive, honest character in a dark series.

Love is Science – Taiwan

While this Taiwanese drama was a fun watch, the real draw was its gay side couple, Ou Wen (Lin Yu) and Mark (Anderson Cheng). They left a deep impression. Watching them fall in love and slowly become a part of each other’s lives was a beautiful experience made even more so by the actors’ undeniable chemistry.

She Would Never Know – South Korea

Although very little attention is paid to the subtle gay storyline in this Korean drama, I find it worth mentioning because it highlights a very real thing. In countries and cultures that still struggle to accept same-sex relationships but push marriage and traditional values, many people hide their sexuality behind what appears to be happy heterosexual marriages. In reality, they struggle with their sexuality and the choices they feel pushed into making. She Would Never Know is not the first drama to highlight this, but one of the more recent ones I’ve watched that includes it with Lee Dong Ha’s (Kang Woo Hyeon) struggle with himself and the pain it causes when his wife realizes it.

Puppy Honey – Thailand

This Thai drama makes it onto the list simply because it’s where I first fell in love with Off Jumpol and Gun Atthaphan as a BL duo. Even then, before either of them had become the astounding actors they have become since, they played well off each other. They made me fall in love with Pick and Rome in a drama I wasn’t fully invested in until they came on the screen.

Gingerjiejie’s Favorites

As you read the title of this Sunday feature, you must be wondering – as did I – whether BL does not belong under the queer media umbrella term and why not. While I personally think it does, not a lot of people see it that way – yes, I am talking (mostly) about westerners. Some westerners have a very negative view of BL, and this was never more evident after the success of a certain Netflix series by a certain author who was quick to categorise her story as non-BL. Now, this Sunday feature is not to debate whether or not BL belongs to queer media. While I personally believe it does, I also think that BL is a different type of queer media. It is true that BL per se is not LGBTQ+ in the sense that they mostly focus on the romance rather than activism. Labelling BL as purely entertaining for straight women to ‘get off’ is also quite incorrect. There are many BL titles who address important LGBTQ+ issues. In fact, BL in also an umbrella term for many other types of queer stories. There are a lot of incredibly touching coming-of-age stories. The characters are not as I heard before ‘just two cis-het dudes being gay for each other’. BL is much, much more than that. BL has helped many come out of their closets. It has helped women deal with personal traumas. It has empowered women in a male dominated field where the label ‘yaoi’ was derogatory because it was a ‘woman thing’.

Having said all that, I will treat non-BL queer media as queer media from the west and go from there. But let it be known that I do think BL is queer media – albeit differently from western media.

So, to start this feature, I’ve chosen three couples that are worth mentioning for being ground-breaking and amazing in many ways.

Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis | Days of Our Lives

I don’t think the new generation know about Will Horton, played by the actor Chandler Massey, and Sonny Kiriakis, played by Freddie Smith, but I remember their love story quite fondly. First of all, you must have in mind that Days of Our Lives is one of those American soup operas that goes on forever. Additionally, it is super straight. So, obviously, Will and Sonny were a big deal.

They meet through mutual friends. Sonny is out and proud, but Will is still on a path of self-discovery. After Will comes out, he and Sonny become closer, and what starts as a beautiful friendship eventually blossoms into love. Since it is a soup opera, you can expect a lot – and I mean a lot – of drama and hard-to-believe plots. Still, you cheer for them to work out their feelings for each other and finally get together. Since Days of Our Lives is one of those soaps that never end, Will actually dies just to be brought back to life years later – don’t ask me. If I’m not mistaken, they are not in the show anymore, but that doesn’t mean they can’t never go back. It is a soup opera after all.

Why are they so important, you may ask? Will and Sonny are the first gay couple to get married in US daytime drama history. They are also the first same-sex couple of Days of Our Lives. You can find their story on YouTube.

Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer | As the World Turns

I suffered so much for/with this couple! I followed their whole love story on YouTube thanks to the kindness of strangers. Luke was played by Van Hansis while Noah was played by Jake Silbermann. They are the first gay male couple on an American daytime television show, much earlier than Days of Our Lives. They are also the first gay couple to kiss on an American soap. Amazing, right? I still remember how absolutely ecstatic I was as I watched them finally kiss, and how momentous that was. There were a lot of drama and tears before that – but of course there would be, after all, we are talking about a soap opera.

In the beginning, Noah is a straight man with a girlfriend! As the story progresses, however, Luke and Noah grow closer. Luke was rejected by his first love when he came out to him, so he is afraid the same thing will happen with Noah. Noah, on the other hand, thinks that Luke is after his girlfriend at first and gets confused by his own feelings for Luke. After a while, Noah realises the one he loves is Luke and kisses him. There are fireworks and cheers everywhere – in my head. Obviously, because this is a soap opera, there are once more a lot of drama and crazy plots after their first kiss. And I truly mean a lot of craziness going around. When the soap was cancelled, Noah had left to pursue his dreams, but they had vowed to reunite and be together again. So, sort of a happy ending for Nuke (that’s what fans call the couple) even if they had lots of bumps in the road and not exactly lived a healthy relationship.

It is so worth watching them together, though. They have amazing chemistry and their intimacy is a thing of beauty. Oh, have in mind they were a gay teen couple, so even more ground-breaking! You can also find out more about their love story on YouTube – bless.

Christian Mann and Oliver Sabel| Verbotene Liebe

This one is a German soap opera! Here is the thing about Olli and Christian, or Chrolli: they are incredible together. For me, their love scenes remain one of the steamiest I’ve ever watched. The actors did an amazing job at portraying their mutual attraction, their confusion, and eventually downfall. They are what people deem as a toxic couple. But then again, we are talking about a soap opera – and they are hardly healthy.

I still believe it is worth following their love story – to a point. Christian, played by Thore Schölermann, is the bad boy type, but underneath his tough macho posture there is a man who just wants to be loved. It was while he was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit that he met his girlfriend Coco – who is a doll by the way, but becomes super whiny later on. Oliver, played by Jo Weil, is a happy-go-lucky type of guy and comfortable on his own skin. When they meet, they instantly dislike each other. Circumstances make Oliver share an apartment with Christian and two others. Their attraction for each other, which is almost palpable, grows to an unbearable point. The first time they kiss is intense and breathtaking. The first time they make love to each other is earth-shattering. Here are two actors who truly got their homework done. They were amazing together. They even address the issue of Christian having to deal with the fact that he is a gay boxer in a sport that is highly homophobic. His struggles are heart-breaking to watch. Unfortunately, the script ended up not doing them justice in the long run. Even so, up to a certain point, it is quite worth watching their relationship unfold. You can watch it till they get married and pretend that’s the end. They do not end up together, and for many that was the best possible ending as they grew more and more toxic as the show continued. And for a soap opera, they actually got a lot of happy moments. Is it worth watching? Like I said, watch it until they get married, and then move on to fanfiction where everything is possible. Their moments together are available on YouTube.

Now, ask me if I think those stories above are that any different from a BL… I don’t think so. Then again, it’s all fine as long as people stop belittling BL and treat it with more respect and less prejudice.

We will be back next week with the second edition of this feature. So till then, keep watching this space as we bring you more updates from the Asian BL World!


2 thoughts on “Favorite Gay Couple in Non- BL Queer Media”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s