Get ready to dive deep into the world of BL with Peachie, the mastermind behind the Church of BL. They've been on a mission since 2017 to create awesome content for conventions and online spaces where BL fans can truly be themselves. Now let's get on to that interview!
Q. Tell us about the Church of BL, & what inspires your content?
A. The Church of BL (COBL for short) has been my passion project since 2017. I aim to create both content for conventions as well as online spaces for BL fans who don't feel like they fit in within the majority of fandom spaces. I also work to educate folks on the mental health aspects of liking the more taboo topics within BL, and why BL sub genre’s outside of your typical high school romance or office drama are important.
Initially - when I started the Church of BL, my inspiration came from a kinda narcissistic place? LOL - I’ve been a BL fan for going on 20 years (I feel old, omg) & during that time, I often attended BL panels at conventions in my area. At first, I was just happy to be there- I lived in a small town in the midwest United States & panel content being made about gay manga & anime, much less anything in regards to gay content from outside of Japan, was few and far between, so I went to what was available. This was like - 2008ish, the internet was different then- lol! Convention panels were where it was at. With time, I started to notice a pattern. The panels, at least in my area, typically covered around abouts the same stuff every time & not much info on where to find anything. That in itself was okay, at least the genre was getting exposure, not everyone was as hyperfixated on BL as I was, & I understood that- LOL. But. . .where I drew the line, were the panels that specifically focused on bashing BL that they either didn’t understand or did not enjoy. Most of these titles were either kinda dated and a product of their time, or just outright taboo. Stuff in the same realm as Ai no Kusabi, that deals with human trafficking & has heavy BDSM elements. Or anything that involved some kind of “weird” kink that they found cringey or went too far. Some time later, once Killing Stalking blew up and became more popular, despite the fact that the series is considered to be psychological horror & not romance - it became the target of scrutiny & one of the poster children of problematic BL.
On top of all of that- a lot of stuff I saw presented was just, not fact checked in the slightest, or felt kinda ill informed. A good example of this that I’ve seen fairly recently was when someone was promoting titles like My Brothers Husband, an absurdly well written manga series by Gengoroh Tagame that deals with confronting internalized homophobia - but at the same time - talking down about series that fell in the same wheelhouse as basically every other title the man has written. Tagame is a powerhouse in geikomi, but a huge chunk of his work falls under the kink, non con, or BDSM umbrella.
I have always enjoyed the darker varieties of BL - they’re my bread & butter. I understand the separation of fiction vs. reality, and there have always been a lot of complicated reasons behind why I was always more drawn to the darker & more taboo themes & characters - not just in BL, but like, in fiction as a whole. Any time I would go to these convention panels, I always left with thoughts like, “I wish they had included this thing!” “I wish they hadn't said that!” “They were TOTALLY wrong about that thing!” “If I were to have done that, I would have done it this way.” & over time - I was like. . . I have a public speaking background - I love research & making things - I could do this. . . sooooo- I did! I personally feel like you shouldn't complain about something if you're not willing to work on changing it.
COBL began as just panels at conventions. My first one was, “The Church of BL” that was basically a 2 hour long news type presentation that covered all kinds of stuff, like where to find different kinds of titles, what was new & coming out soon, & just recommendations I had for various genres and stuff. I tried to cover as many bases as I had knowledge on, and it became a yearly panel at quite a few conventions in my area. I later branched out and added two more panels. “The Church of BL: Youth Group”, which focused on the 13+ crowd. It gives a good guide on where to get started & BL content that was age appropriate, as I didn’t have that when I was younger & never really saw any BL panels that weren't 18+. The other panel I added was “BL That Hurt Me”, which was solely about my favorite subgenre of BL, psychological horror.
I was honestly a little taken aback at how popular my panels became at the various cons I took them to, especially “BL That Hurt Me” & “I Love That Character You Hate”, a panel I started presenting on the culture surrounding anti fans and extreme bullying in fandom spaces. I never expected to gather so many that felt like they didn't fit into the vast majority of fandom spaces. They didn't feel represented or knew of many others who liked the same stuff as them. & the most heartbreaking of all- feeling absolutely horrified to talk about their favs out of being bullied or doxxed online. So many people had stories of being kicked out of fandoms, being publicly shamed by friends, or receiving death threats online over fictional characters or genres they liked - it was absurd. It was at this point that I started changing my angle a little bit and started aiming my content at representing these people. I started gaining more and more people who followed my work because they didn’t have any other spaces where they felt like they could talk about the more taboo variety of BL, or just, someplace they felt safe in general? As I had more and more conversations with these folks, I got more and more motivated to get louder. I wanted to stand up and advocate for these folks who just wanna like the shit they like and not get bullied, kicked out of friend groups, doxxed online, sent death threats, or be afraid to openly enjoy genres or characters that the majority can’t stand.
In the last few years, I’ve tried to put myself out there past just my panels and grow COBL into a larger community - I now have a YouTube channel that I periodically post to, an active COBL Discord server with about 200+ members, & I recently started a podcast. On top of all of this, I also started working on writing an academic paper on the infighting within fandom spaces. I’m excited to grow COBL more than it is presently, as it’s given me so much in the time I’ve worked on it. My recent endeavors, outside of my convention panels, are still very new- but I'm proud of what I've accomplished thus far.
That was a very long answer to a simple question - dekfluewlfkwem - lol! Hello, I’m Peachie, & I’m very long winded~!
Q. What are your goals as a content creator?
A. My goals for COBL have kinda evolved over time? My main goal is bringing people who enjoy the stuff I also enjoy together & giving them space to exist in without fear of being constantly judged. Through a lot of introspection mixed with speaking to attendees at my sundry panels, I started trying to explain why we enjoy these things, how to consume taboo themes such as these responsibly, and why that’s okay. My panels slowly became safe spaces - BUT THEN - COVID. COVID sent a bunch of us into the virtual space as that's kinda all we had to lean on. After doing my first virtual panel at FujoCon 2020, a virtually based BL centric convention that drew in attendees from all over the globe - I gained some more fans of my stuff from outside of my usual stomping grounds. FujoCon really inspired me to make COBL more than just convention panels- it needed a permanent space. People liked my content WAY more than I ever expected and I liked making it - it was really validating to scream into the void about all this stuff I enjoyed or feelings I had - and not only having somebody listen, but tell me how much they appreciated my work - but ho boy is all of this stuff difficult to keep up with. I enjoy making my content, I wouldn't do it if I didn't find value in it - but, outside of the Church of BL, I also run my own business, am the Guest Relations & Programming head for a convention, & have Bipolar & ADHD. . . SOOO- despite me being a workaholic - consistency is not my greatest quality? LOL - It takes WEEKS to finish just one YouTube video, or one podcast episode - and depending on where my mental state is that month, even longer. This hasn't exactly helped in terms of growing my internet presence very quickly? But the more I work at it, the better I get?
Sooo- alongside creating these spaces & making content, I want to have more consistency? I want to work on what's successful for me, and keep at it. As I’ve mentioned previously- there are so many out there that don't feel like they can interact in fandom spaces very easily? I want to alleviate that, and stay active in the community.
Q. What advice would you give to new creators?
A. Try to stay positive? Success is never immediate, and it takes a lot of hard work, trial and error, & time. Don’t get discouraged if your first YouTube video only gets 5 views. Don’t freak out if you only have 3 people show up to your panel. Those are still people who are giving value to what you do. I may have a decent following at conventions, but my internet presence is still struggling? But - I just try to keep at it. Fall down- get back up again. Secondly - don’t feel pressured to only make content about what’s popular. Sure, you get exposure that way, and that’s important- but it’s absurdly easy to fall into burnout. Make what sparks joy for you, and occasionally throw in some fan service. I promise you- it will make staying consistent in your content WAY easier. It keeps your passion for it alive. Lastly - don’t let people walk all over you or snub your work. It’s one thing to take constructive criticism- that is REALLY important for growth- but don’t feel bad when someone doesn't value you or tries to bring you down. Your content will reach who it's for, and the people it wasn't for in the first place can get over themselves.
Q. What does pride mean to you?
A. Authenticity. Being who I am unapologetically. Standing up for people who are just like me. Working towards being a good representation of my peers. BUT- I say all of this - and do indeed stand by those definitions - but at the same time - I’m AFAB non binary who's in denial that they’re actually trans masc- lol! I’ve struggled a lot with allowing myself to be masculine, to use he/him pronouns, to accept that there's a HUGE correlation between why I always had a hard time being female, at least as its defined by gender norms, and why it was so addicting to self insert with characters in BL stories. It was always so difficult for me to relate to female characters, and any time I did- they were typically of the masc leaning tomboy variety. I’m also- very not straight- lol! & being able to engage in queer content was refreshing. I grew up in Catholicism (hence the Church of BL being a parody of the Catholic Church), I was a ride or die Catholic till I was about 16 and felt attracted to a girl for the first time - and panicked. I talked to my Youth Pastor about it, as I trusted him for some reason - and was told that that's not something you act upon. That's not, and never will be, in God's plan for you. Being told that - to my face - was eye opening. Because I didn't see my queerness as anything dirty. I didnt think about it at all to be frank- it was natural? I’m the definition of pansexual- I’ve never been attracted to people based on their gender, it's just- whomever I like, that's who I like. I don't really care what's goin on downstairs- and I don't see why God would have an issue with that? But ho buddy do some of these folks wanna make it their problem. I have family who won't speak to me because I’m married to a woman - and honestly - I don't care anymore. You learn over time - that trying to shove the square block into the triangle hole just isn’t going to work out for you. I don't want to live by a handbook somebody wrote and told me was my whole life's mission- I want to exist as I am, because that feels nice, it’s validating, it’s life saving. & I want others to do that too.
Pride is a concept I’m working on? I’m proud of my community, I’m proud of how far queer representation has come - but being specifically proud of myself, and who I am, is still a struggle sometimes. I didn't start to REALLY live authentically till I was about 25. Due to that, I want to be the advocate I needed when I was younger - be that through my BL content or otherwise - so learning to be not only confident - but loud in my own skin - is something I’m working hard towards achieving. Pride is being the role model you needed that you didn’t have?
Q. How will you be celebrating Pride 2023?
A. Honestly? NO IDEA - lol!! I went to my first pride event this year? Despite me being a content creator & public speaker - large crowds & events give me anxiety, lol! I went to the Pride Kick Off event in Mt.Vernon IL to help out with the AIDS coalition in my area. It was really freaking cool and I think, now that I've ripped the figurative band-aid off, I want to help with more events like it. I met a lot of folks and got to support queer artists through the sundry booths they had there, and it was fun. I met a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, which is a group of nuns, many of whom are drag queens or trans folk, who do volunteer work & community outreach in sundry areas of the states, and across the globe. I had NO IDEA we had a group of them in my area, and now I'm SO TEMPTED to join once I have time to do so. If you’ve never heard of them- definitely look them up. I also have a pretty big backlog of queer books I wanna finish? My wife is a big fan of Nagata Kabi’s autobiographical manga series “My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness” & owns all of them. I’ve read the first one, and need to read the rest. The authors very shy approach to figuring out her sexual preference is REALLY relatable. On top of which- a lot of her struggles with alcohol abuse & mental instability hit home pretty hard for me. So I definitely need to finish that one. I also recently got my hands on a physical copy of “The Day I Met My Husband”, a memoir of the gay activist Nanasaki Ryousuke, who, alongside his husband, had the first religiously recognized same-sex marriage in Japan. There’s two versions, his original essay he wrote, as well as a manga adaptation that’s also absurdly good.
I’ve read all of the manga, and I'm about halfway through the essay, & his story is so relatable to me in so many ways - but at the same time, makes me feel, for lack of a better word- privileged - to live where I do. I had little issue obtaining a legally binding marriage certificate, despite my gender at birth, and watching Nanasaki & his husband struggle is heartbreaking.
Am I confident in my country's treatment of our community - absolutely not - look at Florida - do not get me started. I also grew up in a culture that looked down upon anything remotely queer. I simply adored how close family of mine, on top of being heavily religious, would throw around the three letter f slur & then wonder why I struggled to come out to them? Alongside this, the treatment of trans people in particular in this country is abhorrent. So while my own experience with obtaining a marriage certificate was fairly cut and dry, despite the judgmental looks, my wife & I are absurdly lucky. So- I find it important to learn about other folks' experiences in other cultures. In the end, we’re all fighting for the same thing.
Q. What are some of your favorite BL shows?
A. OH LORD- so. . .I tend to like the more dark & taboo variety of series? So, anime wise, not many of the manga I enjoy have been adapted into anime? But I do have a handful of favs! The anime adaptation of Love Stage is one of my favorite things on this planet. I could scream sing the OP right now. It was so well done, and even for folks who haven't read the manga, was so solid with a satisfying ending. The English dub was also fantastic- which was new for me? MANY of the English adapted BL anime in the early 2000’s (im old) were uhhhh. . . .a choice. . . Seeing more polished & well cast dubs now a days has been a joy.
Alongside anime - I have a weakness for Thai Dramas. Some of my favs are Manner of Death, Cutie Pie, KinnPorsche, Lovely Writer, 2gether, & Not Me. I’m currently watching Boss & the Babe, and its frikken cute. Thai dramas can be kinda campy at times? But they also approach alot of real life scenarios, which I always find so freaking refreshing. They also have more of the darker themes that I tend to gravitate towards- which is what made them addictive in the first place- lol~!
Q. Favorite BL ships?
A. AAAAA- okay . . . . I know people will want to fight me over the first two- lol!!! Jin Guangyao x Lan Xichen from the Chinese BL novel series, MDZS/the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation- they give me LIFE. So much so that I have made my own merch because not a lot of it exists. Another one that I’m a die hard fan of is Mink x Aoba from the BL visual novel Dramatical Murder. Frikken nobody likes Mink- BUT THAT'S FINE- more for me. . . I have dang near every piece of merch that exists- LOL. I could go on forever about him. Some ships I love that people won't instantly yell at me over- pfft- I also adore Xie Lian x Hua Cheng from the Chinese BL novel series TGCF/Heaven Officials Blessing. I am so attached to them - it’s insane. I relate to both of them as characters to an absurd level. A kinda niche ship I love is Reo x Mabu from the anime Sarazanmai. They are canon- because I said so- LOL. Sarazanmai is a bit of an acid trip of an anime, but holy hell it's so good - just trust the process- lol! The English dub was also REALLY well done- and that's saying a lot as it's partially a musical.
Q. Tell us about Citrus Con.
A. It’s my baby - PFFT - I’m so honored to have been brought along for this ride. Citrus Con was initially founded by my friends at Citrus Squad, another BL centric community fairly similar to my own. Our con chair Kira DM’d me and was like- “hey so. . . we want to start our own virtual BL convention. . . would you be willing to run panels at it?” and I’m like - OF FRIKKEN COURSE?! & that grew into swapping ideas and discussing logistics - and before I knew it they brought me on as founding staff - lol! In all seriousness though- being con staff, especially what I do as Guest Relations & Programming Head, has been something I’ve always wanted to do but had no time for - so I’m so hype about this. We’ve achieved so much since we started - I’m really proud of the team.
BUT - SPECIFICS - Citrus Con is a virtual 18+ Boys Love convention that will be debuting August 26th & 27th 2023~!
We’ll have guests from all different scopes of the BL world, including BL industry events & panels, fan panels, games & special events, a virtual artist alley to shop around in, as well as a big ol’ Discord server full of fellow fans to hang out with. I’m really excited for our Guest lineup this year - we’ll be having Cathexis, author of the Sex Therapy comic, Heart Core Dev’s, the game devs behind the BL visual novel, the Symbiant, as well as English voice actor & ADR director for SO MANY English dubbed queer anime, David Wald - & that’s just to name a few. We also have more Guest announcements we haven't made yet - so look out for those~! I’m so ridiculously excited - lol!
We’ve been running watch parties & mini events in between now and the con as well~ Recently, we had a 3 hour Q&A with David Wald and it was super rad. We have a recording of it on our YouTube channel~ To keep up with all this stuff & find consistent updates, con announcements, as well as what all we’re up to - make sure to follow us on Twitter @ citruscon. Registration for the con is open & completely free. You can find a registration link as well as more info on the con itself via our carrd: citruscon.carrd.co
Q. Where can people support your work?
A. I have a website~!! Churchofbl.com ~
I have all my socials & links and such posted there, as well as my Discord invite & a page dedicated to my research project, “Discrimination in Fandom Culture” where you can fill out my fan survey that I use for my academic projects. I’m working on writing my first academic paper on the discriminatory actions of anti’s in fandom spaces & how it affects individual fans & fandoms as a whole. I also run a panel on the subject, “My Unapologetic Love for Hated Characters” that I’ll be releasing a podcast version of soon~ annnnnd my Kofi is linked via my website as well. I’m running a fundraiser for a new PC - as editing youtube videos & podcast audio on my current laptop has been a nightmare. I also have sundry merch and stuff if that's your vibe~ Monetary support is never expected- but it does help. . .like. . . a lot~ I appreciate my supporters to the moon and back.
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