Favorite Gay Couple in Non- BL Queer Media- Part II

Mainstream media in the western nations is notoriously evasive of queer content. And yet there are some who are braving the storm to portray LGBTQ inclusive characters while depicting their stories wholeheartedly. “MM Romance” books might be tremendously popular, but they are still far off from the kind of influence that Asian BLs enjoy. In today’s feature, our authors would be sharing their opinions about the few legendary couples who were gutsy in their portrayal of queer love!

Sarinpai’s Favorites

Will and Nico- The Heroes of Olympus/The Trials of Apollo Series

I might be a little biased about this, because while I haven’t exactly been up to date on their recent adventures, the Percy Jackson series was my very first foray into fandom in general, and every character has a special place in my heart even if I am not actively reading the latest books.

Will and Nico were a part of the large cohort of characters that I grew up reading, and since Nico’s coming out in The Heroes of Olympus series happened around the time when I myself was questioning my sexuality, I feel a great attachment towards his character, and his story has remained in the periphery of my mind even years later. Will is the sunshine counterpart to Nico’s brooding and feisty temperament, and limited though their relationship had been when I was an active member of the fandom, they have always stayed with me as one of the first positive depictions of a queer relationship I have ever read about.

Ed and Stede- Our Flag Means Death

They are a relatively recent addition to the list, but as anyone who knows me would attest to, queer pirates are one of my biggest weaknesses when it comes to tropes (if the person reading this is an Atiny, you get where I’m coming from).

Stede and Ed are one of the healthiest queer relationships I’ve seen in recent years (please ignore the developments at the end of season 1, I still have hope). They are testament that love can spring up in the unlikeliest of places between the unlikeliest of people, and they make it work. They banter, they yearn, and they just GET each other.

Nick and Charlie- Heartstopper

To be very honest, I almost didn’t include this series in the list. The incidents surrounding the live action, such as the author, Alice Oseman’s open disdain for BL and the subsequent racist backlash towards BL media from Heartstopper fans, moreover Kit Conner’s harassment by so-called “fans” and him being forced into coming out, had certainly dampened my active engagement with the show.

But at the same time, Nick and Charlie’s relationship itself couldn’t not get a mention.

My experience with Heartstopper began before the live action adaptation was even announced, with Oseman’s graphic novel. Nick and Charlie have been in my heart for a very long time, not just because of their innocent love story, but also the stories of their friendship and on a more sombre note, themes of anxiety with coming out and accepting yourself. Nick has always been one of the characters I related to the most in any media I’ve consumed, since my own process of coming to terms with my sexuality, and this relatability has transcended to almost a sense of parasocial protectiveness over him and Charlie.

MychelleLove’s Favorites

There are very interesting Non-BLs out there today that give a hint of a gay couple. They do not base the series around BL, but you get the feeling there might be more if allowed to explore. I appreciate these Non-BL series adding a hint of queerness, just for the element of surprise.

Here are a few of my favorites-

Love O2O, China

Love O2O is one of my all-time favorite Non-BL drama. It is a story that revolves around creating and developing video games in the midst of finding true love. The online game is called “A Chinese Ghost Story”. The version Xiao Nai and his team are creating is “The New Chinese Ghost Story”. This drama is exceptionally well done. I adore the main couple Xiao Nai and Bei Wei Wei played by the highly talented Yang Yang and Zheng Shuang. I watched Xiao fall in love with Bei Wei Wei and in the process, you get to meet Xiao Nai’s friend Hao Mei aka Mr. Beauty (Zheng Yecheng), and KO (Vin Zhang).

Hao Mei is a shy and innocent man who is very naive when it comes to the ways of the heart. We are first introduced to KO when he is a cook in the Uni’s lunchroom. KO likes Hao, but you are not really sure yet. He does feed more food to Hao and makes sure it is the food he cooks. We next see KO in the restaurant cooking and Hao asks for his number innocently; so when he is cooking, Hao can come and eat his food.

KO and Hao are adorably compatible, as you see KO always taking care of Hao. Their chemistry, albeit very subtle, is there. We find out the two played an online game and KO had feelings for Hao’s character. Hao’s character was female and KO’s was male. Once Hao found out KO was a male, he stopped playing the game.

It is very refreshing how clueless Hao is about KO’s feelings for him. It is almost like he thinks KO likes him, but KO is a man. Their bromance is very subtle. All Hao’s friends are on his side if he likes KO. KO takes care of Hao and even moves in with him. He cooks, cleans, and does laundry for Hao. That scene was so adorably sweet, it made me smile.

I have re-watched this series over 10x times over the years and I giggle every time I see KO and Hao. I wish they could have developed KO and Hao as a real couple. It would have definitely been a sight to behold.

The Devil Judge, South Korea

The Devil Judge was an incredible series featuring Ji Sung as Kang Yo Han and Park Jin Young as Kim Ga On.

This was a very dark and sinister drama about corruption in the South Korean Judicial system. This had a little of everything- drama, suspense, laughter, and sadness. Kang Yo Han was a judge that had different ideas on how things should be done, and Kim Ga On is an up-and-coming legal assistant.

The bromance is, again, very subtle, but it is very intense. You watch as Kang and Kim join forces to battle the corruption in the judiciary and they do become close. Little signs, gestures, and words make you think something might happen between these two.

There were times I was hoping for something but I knew it would not happen. As you see that Kim Ga On likes someone else. You also get to witness some very steamy looks that Yo Han directs towards Ga On without his subordinate realizing it. These two would make a very interesting couple, as they had abundant chemistry. I adore each one of them individually as well. Both are veteran actors and have acted in some incredible series on their own. Putting them together was pure genius.

I have re-watched this drama several times as well. The suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat. Made me cry and laugh as well. These two were absolutely incredible together. I for one dream that one day, these two actors might star in a BL drama together. A girl can hope, right?

Interview with the Vampire, USA

Have you ever watched the 1994 movie “Interview with a Vampire”? The subtle bromance between Louis (Brad Pitt), Lestat (Tom Cruise) and Armand (Antonio Banderas) was incredible to watch.

The movie begins with Lestat turning Louis into a vampire after Louis’s wife and child die. Lestat teaches Louis all about being a vampire, taking it slow at first. The chemistry between these two, though very subtle, is quite intriguing. Lestat truly cares for Louis. It is obvious in the way Lestat looks at Louis. At some level, Louis seems to share the same feelings. They travel the world together to try to live a vampiric life. However, they are torn apart when Louis’s adopted daughter Claudia decides to kill Lestat and Louis accedes to her wish.

Along comes Armand, who is quite taken with Louis. He invites him to their play, and wants to protect Louis from all harm. Louis does not return the feelings but is grateful as Armand saves his life.

This Non-BL is a very dramatic one and the subtlety of a bromance might seem nonexistent. It is not really explored, nor is it given a lot of emphasis, just very subtle innuendoes and gestures. This is another favorite of mine and I believe the movie was exceptionally well done. They lead you to believe that Louis and Lestat will always remain together no matter what the circumstances are. They are in this together as both are vampires.

These are my top three favorite series/movies and they are all extremely done well. The bromance is very subtle in all of these and I enjoyed watching each one. If you have a chance to watch these three, please do. I found them all enjoyable to watch and giggled each time the “bromance” angle popped up.

We will be back next week with the third edition of this feature. So till then, keep watching this space as we bring you.

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