Gay and Lesbian rights is a an issue that galvanizes people, particularly on the internet, and as I writer of male/male fiction or a Yaoi fangirl, as you may prefer, I would like to weigh in with my views on the matter.
Naturally I do completely support Gay rights and all this entails. For example I believe that adoption and marriage are just as valid options for Gay and Lesbian couples and should be permitted and protected by law. I also feel that individuals of any marginal sexual orientation or gender identity should be free from prejudice, harassment, or unequal treatment at work or in public. So on and so forth.
I think that this is the most common stance for liberal-minded individuals and is probably the one expected of me, given my interests. My interests in male/male works however are not what guarantees or suggests my support for Gay rights.
I think most Yaoi fans do support gay rights but, although their tastes may influence this opinion, this is mainly because they are themselves liberal females or gay males. Young females usually do find the idea of homosexuality less upsetting than, for instance, straight males. If they are liberal and sexually open enough to read guy-on-guy manga and fiction then they are unlikely to be squeamish about sexual practices.
I think it's important to stress one key point though, one that many people neglect to mention, and that is that; Yaoi hasn't got a damn thing to do with gay rights.
If anything, the presentation of gay males in Yaoi and other male/male media often goes completely against the gay right movement. Not always mind, but often enough to take note of.
Yaoi and male/male fiction is written to excite and entertain. The relationships it presents are often violent, unequal, and highly sexual. They present homosexuality as a extreme sexual practice, something seductive yet intense. They even make links between abuse and homosexual relations, either through child abuse or rape, which is completely unacceptable as a literal interpretation. It is, in fact, something the Gay community has struggled against for a long time.
I've been pretty clear on my opinions on the content of Yaoi in the past, particularly in my mission statement. Some of the traits and themes I like, some I don't, but as fiction they are all perfectly valid. This genre is about fantasy and is usually targeted at young women who, sometimes, like violent and unequal relationships (the testosterone element is all part of the appeal).
The important thing to remember is why homosexuality is perceived as unnatural or wrong and, understanding the stereotypes and misconceptions, to distance personal taste or distaste from a sensible objective view.
The fact is that the issue doesn't come down to a choice along the lines of, 'should we let gay people live their lives without intrusion or should we stone them to death in the town square?' it's a complicated matter of social conventions and attitudes.
I think it's very helpful to consider why people are uncomfortable about homosexuality, in order to argue effectively and I'd like to go through some of those points now and counter them. These are all to do with 'perceptions' of homosexuality which effect many people whether they would actively vote against gay rights or not.
The most common argument against Homosexuality is that it is 'unnatural.' This argument is usually countered with arguments about homosexuality in nature etc. but I have always found this counter extremely irritating. The fact is that all kinds of acts are exhibited in nature, such as eating shit and killing your partner's babies from a previous relationship, but we know that these things do not apply to human society.
When people call homosexuality 'unnatural' what they mean is that they think it goes against an intrinsic human instinct. To most straight adults the thought of being sexual with a friend of the same sex is repugnant, wrong even. This is because it is a transgression of a platonic relationship, which is very important to us as human beings. This is one reason why many people who have a problem with the idea of homosexuality liken it to incest or pedophilia, because these too are behaviors that involve transgressing upon what should be a platonic relationship. People who make this argument are trying to express what they feel such an act would be like and why it would feel and be wrong.
The main thing which needs to made clear when arguing on this point is that homosexuals, during to a genuine and intrinsic difference in their nature/brain, do not feel this way. For them their attitudes towards the genders are switched or, in the case of bisexuals, the boundaries more indistinct. If you listen to someone who is upset by the thought of homosexuality talk, for a time, it does become clear (although it seems strange to those of us who understand the orientation) that they really do not realize that homosexuals do like the same gender and that for them this feel natural and appropriate.
Some opponents grasp this somewhat but only halfway. They think it is a sexual deviancy whose stables are i) boundary crossing and ii) a mixture of desire and discomfort. There are other comparisons to sexual offenders made here. The facts of anecdotal and scientific research should make quite clear that homosexuality is a different in-born predisposition rather than a sexual dysfunction but this confusion is a key component of anti-gay thought.
If any readers are shaking their heads and thinking they are above this kind of confusion then they should take a moment to examine their own thoughts. This issue is very widespread, not just within wider society but even within gay rights activists and the gay community themselves.
If you think of homosexuality as, in any way, a sexually naughty and exciting choice, a more extreme type of experimentation and consider this to be an objective reality then you are perpetuating the myth that homosexuality is about sexual deviancy and boundary-crossing. Lady Gaga for instance, while supporting Gay rights, perpetuates the idea that homosexuality is extreme and exciting, like some kind of Bad Romance vampire love. There are also schisms within the gay community between members who, for example, hate drag acts because they are, after all, a caricature of what a gay man is - effeminate and highly sexualized.
I don't necessarily have a problem with this kind of entertainment but only under the condition that it is viewed purely as entertainment and a fictional representation. This is a critical distinction and if an artist implies that their work represents what is objectively real then they should be criticized accordingly.
Whether or not you agree with these criticisms I think it must be acknowledged that there is a lack of perception, in most of society, of gay people as simply normal people who are no more sexually active or provocative than anyone else. It has to be a conscience thing, whether you are excited or disgusted by it, to remember that a kiss between too males or two females is no different, and certainly no more sexually provocative, than a kiss between a man and a woman. Equality is not just about treating people the same, legally, it is about how we think about and perceive them.