I work within the bara genre of underground art—internationally known but with a much smaller audience compared to other genres of visual works.
The word bara in Japanese (薔薇) literally means “rose” as in the flower. It is shortened from barazoku (薔薇族) which means “rose tribe”—a code phrase that mocked gay men in Japan as being sissies or effeminate. Yet, this was the name chosen proudly for a gay men’s magazine published in the Japanese language from 1971 until 2008.
The bara genre is known for a focus upon depicting gay male same-sex feelings and sexual identity with masculine or muscular males—the polar opposite of sissies or effeminate men. Instead of pushing a false narrative about romantic aspects in man-on-man love, the bara genre offers imagery and stories which depict gay male behaviors realistically as capable of being violent and exploitative. The most renowned living artist who today works within the bara genre is Gengoroh Tagame.
In contrast to the bara genre, the more vanilla works showing standard gay men falling in love with other standard gay men are a lot more safe and less emotionally challenging for the viewer and therefore the audience for that kind of material is larger than the audience for bara works.
In a specific effort to introduce gay men in my country to an awareness of the bara genre, I continue to work within a US bara which emphasized American rather than Japanese culture, uses the English language, and features 100% all beefy men to appeal to a United States audience.