My japanese speaking but not native friend talked about a foreign friend whose name translates to "ばら" (bara - 薔薇) with some native japanese. They quickly objected that she shouldn't call that friend ばら as this means "gay" (homosexual) in japanese. I couldn't find any evidence for this and am curious now. The only thing I found is that the first gay magazine is called "barazoku" which could be shortened to "bara". Maybe becoming a synonym for gay. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barazoku

Is "ばら" an actual word with the meaning "gay"? Or is it just a common term? Or is it just common in the LGBT community and most japanese would be clueless?

1 Answer 1


Yes 薔薇 implied gay several decades ago, and I believe most Japanese adults were more or less aware of this in those days. It's no longer a common metaphor.

Note that 薔薇 was argot for real gay relationship, if I understand correctly. Fictional male-male romance enjoyed by female audience (still known as yaoi outside of Japan) has not been referred to as 薔薇. See this article for details.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .