This post touches an important pan-fandom subject and as such I think it should be read far and wide, so please, spread this link around! Thank you in advance.verasteine
has written a parallel post of her own regarding being straight in fandom
Something has been weighing on my mind for a while now.
It’s not a new thought, in fact I’ve written and discussed this before, because it is a pervasive issue and it touches me again and again in fandom.
Slash fandom is not a place without problems, this we all know, as fans, but this one particular issue is one which I’m finding harder and harder to let go as time goes by and I’m wondering if other fannish queers and/or queer fans feel it as well.
I’d like to state that I’m very aware of how problematic the use of “queer” is as a word – because while I personally identify with it strongly, it is a word with a traumatic past and not every QUILTBAG person sees it as a reclaimed word, as such, please bear with me regarding its use in this post.
Things are not as they once were, over the past decade the media landscape has changed in a way I still find hard to describe, I’m sure you who are older than I feel this even more acutely.
I don’t want to talk about the canon queer characters, relationship and storylines, because you can critique those from here to high heaven from our perspective and that has been done.
I want to talk and ask you, my fellow queer fans, about the ambivalent feeling I get from slash fandom as a queer fan.
Slash isn’t queer fiction, but it is queered
fiction and a lot of the time, the idea that gay people exist within a larger cultural context is either forgotten or exploited. Forgotten in the sense that a lot of stories write the two men as though there isn’t an entire gay history and culture that informs on how these relationships are constructed.
And they are exploited in the sense that some aspects of gay culture are used to differentiate these two guys from those other
queers, because they are the strange and the freakish, whereas the two guys are in love
There are of course the instances in which authors try to be inclusive of queer culture, but due to the stereotypical way it is depicted in the media the image of effeminate men being “less than” masculine men gets perpetuated in fic.
The coming out process and the whole notion of being queer in public is, at times, reductive and lacking in the narrative complexity that informs our own queer identities. Not to mention the use of the work “queer” itself without any acknowledgment that hey, for a lot of these guys, it would as bad as the f-word (no, not “fuck” or “fellation”).
There are times where I will be thrown out of a fic that deals with homophobia, but succumbs to gender stereotypes, because the relationship becomes yet another reflection of heterosexual and heteronormative models, only with two dicks.
And of course, the ever popular of putting “slash” or “m/m sex” in the warning part of the header.
There are other issues and other instances, some of them too numerous to recount, and yes, fandom can’t but reflect the larger straight assuming culture from which it emerges. But QUEER PEOPLE EXIST in slash fandom and I’d like to hear our voices with regards to how these narratives and stories are written. Because even though this isn’t gay fiction, I am a part of this creative and transformative culture that takes from my sexual culture and doesn’t seem to realize that that
is what it does.
Do other queer fans and/or fannish queer fans feel this way? Are there areas in slash fandom you feel more welcome and included? What other issues have you felt that corresponds with being queer in fandom, if at all?