rm (rm) wrote,

Oh Noes! There's Gay People In My Fandom!

I want to preface this by saying that not only do I not have the solution, I'm having a hard time defining the problem, because it's more complex than it seems at first glance. I also want to preface this by saying I'm not interested in the misery olympics, nor do I speak for (or about) all fannish types or all queer folks who intersect with fandom. I'm also not interested in explaining Privilege 101 to anyone. Yes, I'm expecting a bit of awareness or prep work to ride this ride. (ETA: Since I am starting to get some comments that Don't Get It, let me direct you to: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/)

Let me also say that this isn't remotely as artful as it could or should be, because I'm sorta pissed off right now.

Fandom has a problem. It's about gender, sexual-orientation, arousal and privilege.

Facts as I see them:

- people write fanfic and create fanart and fanvids. Much of this content examines relationships emotionally and/or sexually. Some of this material reflects the canon relationships of programs, some doesn't. Some of this content reflects gay relationships, some straight, with a decent amount of "other" (poly, other-gendered, etc etc etc) thrown in.

- the relationship structures/types are, in some circles, viewed very much like a genre. Het or Slash becomes a genre as much as Romance or Horror does.

- through this relationship orientation/structure/type being viewed as a genre situation, a number of trends, some problematic, begin to occur. These largely seem to center around a disconnect between fiction and fantasy.

And that's where the following rant comes in:

Real, live queer people exist out there in the world and real, live queer people exist in fandom. And I am sick and tired of us being either something merely fetishized or relegated to a genre either appealing or not.

I am _not_ saying that het people shouldn't be writing slash (one unfortunate drama I've seen on the Internet lately), because hey, what turns you on, what interests you, no matter who you are, THAT'S PART OF YOUR SEXUAL AND EMOTIONAL IDENTITY TOO and I'm all for it.

But, for fuck's sake, if you're going to write slash, you don't get to do that and then say that real life homosexuality is immoral (yep, seen this one in fandom -- and yes, I'm looking at you, Harry Potter fandom) without there being repercussions in the sense of community disapproval.

You also might want to consider that going to a Gay Pride parade just to ogle same-sex couples kissing and not because the parade is fun or important or meaningful AND BRAGGING ABOUT IT, is also a bit outre (yep, seen this one in fandom recently too).

You might also want to take a step back from calling every random celebrity queer couple heroes for being out in places where it's largely safe to be out. I'm not saying it's not brave -- it's hard to be famous and gay and people still get bashed even in places like New York City. But, people have given up their lives in this struggle, and for those of us in the struggle, even if we're pretty privileged and haven't had to do the scary stuff (and for the record, I have been a target of anti-gay violence, harassment and rape threats; I've sat in the ER with friends who have been bashed) -- it's creepy when you call us heroes because you like watching us kiss/hold hands/fuck (yep, seen this one in fandom recently, and yeah, I'm looking at you Torchwood fandom). I am not a hero for turning you on, and neither in John Barrowman. Got it? Good.

Now, while we're at it, you might also wish to remember that while your fictional queer people may be posable dolls, real-life queer people aren't. Think fucking twice about asking people to kiss for your amusement, even if they've been perfectly willing to do it before because the gay people who aren't targets of that moment, who are sitting there in that room with you? It can make us feel like shit, because wow, wouldn't it be nice if you were as interested in our stories as our flesh? (And yes, seen this in fandom recently. Seen it at cons. Seen it towards celebrities, seen it towards cosplayers, seen people not get the difference between choosing to do something for one's own amusement as opposed to an audience. Had this shit directed at me, even by people I consider friends. NOT COOL, PEOPLE.)

And tangentally related to the above? Don't ask couples who the top is. Seriously. Don't. Fuck you. (and to continue on a theme, seen it in fandom, seen it directed at celebs, seen it directed at fans, had it directed at me -- why is it so hard to understand that just because someone will seemingly talk about anything you don't have a right to know anything you want? Also the simplification of gay sexuality into role a or role b is really fucking rude).

Now, you don't like slash? It's not your genre? It doesn't turn you on? THAT'S FINE and you're not being homophobic. The problems always start after that -- and those problems? Yeah, sometimes that is homophobia in action. Here's some shit you might want to think twice about doing:

- When you list stuff you don't like in fiction, try not to bookend references to homosexuality with things like horror, incest, rape, etc. Because that? That sure looks homophobic. (Hey fandom, this one happened YESTERDAY).

- When queer content isn't to your taste? Don't call it icky. (DOES NO ONE HAVE ANY COMMON SENSE? -- also yesterday in fandom)

- And seriously people, when there's a discussion about what categories are and are not included in an awards community or whatever, have enough of a clue to realize that heterosexual content is privileged in the media and that gay content isn't. Having awards for that limited amount of gay content in the mainstream media is not actually "the same sort of discrimination" as awards that purport to be for all content but that actively exclude gay content. (That was also this morning, fandom).

Advice in four words: PRIVILEGE - LOOK IT UP!


Look people, it's pretty simple. Slash is a word for a type of content that pairs two characters of the same gender together (the specificity of whether this means non-canon pairing or includes canon pairing is a debate, but not one relevant to this post), and you can feel pretty much any which way about it, I don't much happen to care -- because the issue here isn't sentiment, it's conduct.

But what slash means is that the content it applies to tells stories about gay people: what they do at work, what they argue about in the kitchen, what they feel in their hearts, and yes, often enough (because holy crap, the Internet is for porn) how they fuck.

The key words in the above sentence, in case you got distracted by the implication of curtains!fic or porn: "stories about gay people."

Gay people are real. We are in your fandom. We are very happy to be here. We are happy to exist in fandom content in a way we don't often in the original material content. We, and the fictional characters whose lives reflect our own to some small degree, get to have full lives here in a way we don't often get from ABC or NBC or CBS or the BBC or WHATEVER at 8pm and sadly for many of us, in a way we don't always get to have with our families or in our workplaces.

So stop treating us like we're fictional. Like that real gay people are inconveniences or blow-up dolls or just some weird, slightly novel, abstract idea.

It's rude, it's ignorant, and most importantly, it's boring. Knock it off.
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