Kirk/Spock (TOS)

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Also see Kirk/Spock (2009).

Pairing: Kirk/Spock
Alternative name(s): K/S, Space Husbands
Gender category: slash
Fandom: Star Trek
Canonical?: No. (Some would say: close, but not quite)
Prevalence: Massive -- 90% or more of the slash in this universe is K/S
Archives: The K/S Archive
Other: see also Kirk/Spock (2009)
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.


Kirk/Spock was the first officially slashed couple of media fandom. People may have written and circulated stories about Holmes and Watson, James and Artemus, Buz and Tod or Napoleon and Illya prior to 1974, but Star Trek was the first show in which amateur stories with a homosexual theme were widely shared among fans. This was because it was the first television program to grow a fandom structured with fan-published magazines -- known as fanzines or zines, amateur publications that allowed stories to be circulated outside of a circle of friends.

Kirk/Spock sexual stories seem to have evolved from the idea of their close friendship and the idea of telepathic communion between them.

In Boldly Writing, the history of Star Trek fan fiction and publishing, Joan Verba says that the first fan-written fiction in zines mostly played with the original, science fictional Star Trek universe, then gradually, more Mary Sues and Kirk and Spock friendship stories started appearing (largely from writers who didn't seem to have much of a Science Fiction background), then the Kirk/Spock stories. However, stories of Kirk and Spock in a homosexual relationship have been documented as early as 1968.

Regarding the virgule: When reading material on the early days of Star Trek fandom, it is important to understand that the use of the symbol, "/", between two character's names did not necessarily indicate a sexual relationship, but rather denoted a story that focused on an intensely described portrayal of a close friendship. There are MANY numerous instances of fans in the late 1970s and early 1980s referring to K/S in terms of friendship. At this time, the symbol was seen on stories with and without descriptions of sexual intimacy. It is therefore tricky to determine the first use of the "/" in past fanworks in the way most fans translate the symbol today. For more information about the history of the terms "slash" and of the symbol, "/," see Slash.

One example of how hard it is to draw a line between "slash" and "gen" (general audiences) is this review of a 1980 zine decidedly advertised as being gen, Enter-comm #2:

It is beautifully put-together, with a certain slant towards K/S relationship stories, though not X or even R-rated, and is obviously done with a great deal of love... 'Difference That is No Difference' is the third in a series of stories by Sue Stuart which started in one of the Gropes. The premise: what would have happened to Kirk and Spock if Kirk had been forced to stay in Janice Lester's body? If one is able to suspend belief (something that is often quite necessary in K/S oriented stories), the idea works very well.[1]

History of K/S

Main article: History of K/S Fandom.
Also see History of Slash Fandom.

The foundations for K/S were actually laid by Isaac Asimov along with some of the Star Trek creators, including Robert Justman and Gene Roddenberry Himself. According to Justman in Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, Captain Kirk had been intended from the beginning as the central, focal character in the series, and William Shatner was paid accordingly; but fan response to Mr. Spock was much greater. In order to turn audience attention back toward the Captain, Roddenberry asked for ideas. In a letter reprinted in Inside Star Trek [2], Isaac Asimov suggested that the scripts and actors should show the two men becoming close friends, including incidents where they save each other's lives. That way, when viewers thought of Spock, they would also think of Kirk, and they would think highly of him because Spock did. Asimov also suggested that Kirk be given lots of intriguing, interesting things to do, e.g. solving mysteries, going incognito, etc. Roddenberry and Gene Coon worked this out, and wrote to Asimov: "Shatner will come off ahead by showing he is fond of the teenage idol; Spock will do well by displaying great loyalty to his Captain. In a way it will give us one lead, the team."[3][4] Solow and Justman do not speak of fan fiction at all, let alone K/S; but it is possible that this is what fans picked up on as they began to speculate about just how close they were.

Mild jokes about Kirk and Spock getting it on appeared as early as Spockanalia 3 in December 1968. In Joyce Yasner's Lennonesque "The Mysterious Yellow String", when Spock confirms he's investigating the string, Kirk says "Frabjous! I'm coming!" and Spock whispers "Not now, later," to which Kirk replies "How can I? I'll miss out!" In Eridani Triad 2, Doris Beetem's "Star Dregs" has all the characters confessing to one another, "I have always wanted... loved you!"

Another factor in the development of K/S was the idea of a mental bond between the two that preceded, and for some, became a part of the sexual relationship between Kirk and Spock:

The first volume of New Voyages was published in 1976, but the stories [that show Kirk and Spock sharing a mental bond of some undefined nature] were floating around as far back as 1970 (ah! the smell of a fresh mimeograph!) At the time of the first-ever con, the idea of a mental bond was fairly widespread -- thousands of Trekkers simultaneously inventing it on their own and not realizing that others had the same perception until we had a chance to get together and talk about it. (Being a Trek fan was pretty much a lonely experience before the cons started.) I don't really recall a split between gen and slash (or more specifically K/S, the granddaddy of 'em all) until the mid-seventies when the erotic aspect first became more explicit and began to make some of those, who had previously described themselves as K/Sers, squicky (a word that didn't exist then)[5] about the specifically homoerotic aspect. (You've got to remember that when ST first aired, Stonewall had only happened a year before.) So, as I remember it, a mental bond between Kirk and Spock was always a part of gen, but it was slash that took it and ran. [6][7]

There is no record of the first K/S story to be written and passed around to friends. The most likely candidate is The Ring of Soshern, written by English author Jennifer Guttridge. Editor Jenna Sinclair at Beyond Dreams Press, based on personal correspondence with Guttridge, placed it as having been written in 1968 or possibly 1967. Since the story describes pon farr it could not have been written earlier than September 1967.[8]

Another early story may be "Green Plague" by Audrey Baker, later printed in the zine Son of Grope. An ad for this zine states that the story was "written in the '60s but still wearing well. This was probably the first K/S story to be printed in a British zine; certainly one of the first written." [9]

The theme was hinted at in some of the very earliest issues of STAG newsletters in late 1973, something that caused quite a bit of discussion. [10] The first K/S story to appear in a zine was "A Fragment Out of Time" by Diane Marchant, published in Grup 3 (the first 'adult' Star Trek zine) in 1974.[11] It was written so obliquely that it wasn't clear to many readers that the two people having sex were both men, much less Kirk and Spock. (though in an essay called "Pandora's Box... Again," in the next issue, the author 'outed' the story and defended the idea of K/S)[12] The piece usually given credit as the first K/S story was published a year later, Alternative: The Epilog to Orion, published by Gerry Downes.

A list from Not Tonight Spock! #7 -- A chronology of early K/S published zine fic:

During the "golden age" of K/S fandom in the 1980s, dozens of zines would be published every year. K/S fans also made songvids, attended K/S conventions, and argued with non-K/Sers over their ardent support of the idea. Meanwhile, many fans wrote K&S friendship stories.

Even long after most Star Trek amateur writing moved to the internet, some K/S fans are still publishing and circulating print zines in 2014.

Possibly the first K/S story to be posted to the internet was A Job for the Young, first circulated widely in January of 1995. The author remains unknown.

"The Premise"

Thrust (1978), the first all-K/S anthology zine. At the time, it was considered to have a shockingly explicit cover. Note: Image marked as sexually explicit, minimised.

As the stories about Kirk and Spock as lovers started to appear, conversations both for and against K/S appeared in Trek letterzines and lettercols.

The entire controversy was unofficially titled "the Kirk/Spock premise" or simply "the premise", as in "I don't believe in 'the premise', but I don't mind those who do" or "I can't stand how all the good writers have started writing about 'the premise'."

The phrase was used by both sides throughout the late '70s.

Some Early Fan Reactions

Main article: Slash Controversies

The vast and vocal majority of the early slash opponents in Star Trek fandom were female. Male fans either didn't object, didn't have anything to say,[13] or simply cancelled their subscriptions and/or left Star Trek fandom entirely. David Gerrold, who is gay, and conservative Christian fan Winston Howlett were among the more outspoken male objectors to K/S.

Reasons for opposing K/S varied. A good many fen thought it was immoral to depict them having sex. Others thought it was simply out of character, or fell all over themselves laughing at the thought of Kirk or Spock saying 'I love you' to one another.

The early debates over whether or not they 'did it' could get very heated. In May 1977, in the midst of political and social turmoil both pro- and anti-gay rights in the everyday world[14] [15] [16], the second SeKWester*Con was held in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It was the first convention to include panels specifically discussing "The Kirk/Spock Relationship" and "Porno and Sex in Star Trek Fiction". Although there were other panels at this gathering, these were the two sessions to cause controversy and highly emotional debate. Due to the intense popularity of stories like Leslie Fish's "Shelter," the number of explicit sexual pieces in the art display, and a PA glitch which resulted in Connie Faddis' reading of an explicit (but non-slash) narrative getting piped throughout the hotel, many anti-slash fans felt outvoted, and some left the convention with the impression that the majority of ST fandom was now in favor of hardcore X-rated material. The now-familiar age statement was instituted as a result of this discussion, and it's likely that the idea for modern labeling practices ("gen", "het", etc.) started here as well.

When Leslie Fish declared at August Party in 1978 during a panel on whether or not they'd do 'it' that "it's natural: animals do it[17][18][19] and Kirk and Spock could do it" her arguments were mind blowing to many. These early debates would often draw huge crowds. The panel room at August Party was jammed with 75-100 people, all shouting and red-faced, trying to convince others of their viewpoint. It was an exciting to be a slash (or an anti-slash) fan. And at first, anti-slash fans seemed to be in the majority, with some wearing "buttons with “K/S” with a circle/slash through it (like the “no smoking” signs.)" at Star Trek conventions. [20]

From Implosion #5 (1977):
I'm rather surprised that other people are surprised at the controversy surrounding ALT; it was, after all, the first zine to deal at length with a top that was bound to make a lot of people uncomfortable at the very least, for the theoretical (the idea of homosexuality) and specific (Kirk and Spock are doing THAT?) reasons. I suppose that with the great emphasis on the Kirk/Spock relationship, in the last year or so, the topic was inevitable, especially given the current climate [14][16] -- if anyone has noticed, this is also been the Year of the Gay on television. [21]
From the editorial in Berengaria #9 (June 1977):
I have never used BERENGARIA as a sounding board, unless it was to warn the fans of a commercial rip-off, as was the case a few issues back. But a situation has been going on for some time and I feel I must speak out. BERENGARIA will not print any stories which contain a homosexual relationship between Kirk and Spock, nor incest stories, nor will I print any ads for zzines which carry these themes. I must admit I purchased one or two issues, because of authors, with whom I had come to enjoy reading. But I was dismayed by the stories and no longer purchase these fanzines or others of their kind. I urge others of you who feel Star Trek is being degraded by this type of literature to boycott any fanzine which feels it must devote Itself to this type of material in order to sell it. I do not intend to debate this stand in future issues of BERENGARIA.

Winston Howlett, the conservative Christian editor of Probe, wrote an editorial for issue #11 of that zine where he objected to "adult Trekfic" in general. He called K/S "Kirk and Spock go gay crap", and said fans were "rushing about to jump on the Homosexuality-in-Trekfic bandwagon", but that they were quick to condemn a story in which McCoy has an affair with a younger woman who turns out to be his daughter.

Harlan Ellison mentioned "Kirk-shtups-Spock soft porn" in a review of The Search for Spock, published in Asimov's Science Fiction in 1984.

For some other examples of early fan reaction, see: The Halkan Council, Interstat, and, The K/S Press.

"We're Not Gay, We Just Love Each Other" or the "Oblivious Gen Fan"

Not all fans agree that the close relationship they see on the screen between Captain Kirk and Mr Spock translates into a sexual one. As K.S. Langley argues, fans are often reading physical intimacy into what is mainly an emotional intimacy. And because slash is in the eye of the beholder, neither position can point to canon for definitive proof:

...some of the earliest debate about K/S, when the K/S fans would point to instances of physical and/or emotional intimacy as "proof" of the slash, and the non-K/Sers (and anti-K/Sers) would respond that physical and/or emotional intimacy is not necessarily proof of a sexual/romantic relationship. And, K/S fan that I've always been, I agree with that. With Kirk and Spock, Starsky and Hutch, and countless other "buddy pairings," epic friendships, etc. you also would expect to see such intimacy. Now, you can make a case that such levels of intimacy certainly don't argue *against* the possible extrapolation of a slash relationship, but, in and of itself, it cannot be taken as definitive "proof" either." [22]

As evidence of the subjective nature of what is and is not "K/S" she goes on to say: "For example, I recall a very moving letter from Spock to McCoy in another zine, in which Spock wrote that he loved McCoy. He did not mean it romantically. It was not unusual for gen writers (then or now) to include things like that in their stories. They didn't see it as slash, and they didn't include it as slash." [23]

There is still a tendency on the part of some slash fans to regard this attitude as naive at best. Some respond by pointing out numerous instances in the original episodes where they feel that the dialogue, stage blocking, and other theatrical elements were deliberately engineered to subtly convey the message that Kirk and Spock were, or would become, romantically involved. [24] Leonard Nimoy was once asked by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath about the prevalence of slash and other sexual premises in fan fiction. He refused to speculate, merely stating that he and Shatner must have done something they were unaware of which caused fans to respond with such ideas.[25]

Numerous blog entries and discussion board contributions enumerate instances of perceived slash in the professionally published Star Trek novels and theatrical films.[26]

See discussion on Controversies Over Slash and Hurt/Comfort.

Waves and Patterns in K/S Fiction

All fandoms seem to have ebbs and flows of certain "types" of fiction, and K/S is no different. Ironically, some of these arguments echoed the reasons some anti-slash fans condemned the genre in the first place. One can also deduce that these kinds of public statements illustrated a more mature fandom in that it was now large enough and old enough to encompass not only cycles but more divergent points of view about what was considered acceptable.

Many fans in the mid-1980s began to complain the rise of what they saw as the rise of offensive and degenerative fiction, specifically that of slave and of BDSM fiction. one fan in 1984 writes:
I'm glad I will never have to fear opening the pages of NOME and finding any of that mindless garbage that is too often passing for K/S today. Too many authors and editors feel that total degradation of a character and the resultant loss of dignity and integrity are synonymous with expressions of love. These people disgust me. [27]
In 1988, another fan comments:
K/S fiction is primarily vulnerable to the threat of stagnation. Most fan writers use it within a very limited context. When writers and readers become surfeited by the basic premise, they do move in other directions, but it is not a progress beyond the narrow boundaries of the concept? They more sideways — toward alternate universe slave stories, S&M stories, threesome stories, K/S death stories, etc. Honestly, guys, we're not getting more creative, just kinkier. [28]

Did K/S Save Trek Fandom?

Some fans believe that slash in fandom provides a rich premise for creativity, and in fact, can rejuvenate discussion and creativity. In 1984, one famous zine's author said:
I hoped Thrust would make some kind of mark, both as a forum for writing and as a forum for the analysis of the K/S theme…. But it was the K/S theme itself that electrified fandom. As it added a dimension to the relationship between the two men, it added a new and lively dimension to fandom, providing a complex and invigorating idea to ponder, an emotional reference that took fandom by storm. I believe that the K/S theme has played a large part in keeping active fandom alive. [29]

Some Fan Love

From 2000:
I don't know why any of you have dropped out of K/S. I do know it can be a very ticklish and time-consuming obsession and I suspect that sometimes the pressure induced by continuing to participate creates too much friction in your lives and you must make a choice. To those of you whose creations I've loved, I want to say how much I miss you. But I also want to tell you not to suffer any remorse for no longer being able to contribute. Think what you've done. Your words will live beyond you; beyond any of us. Ten years from now, twenty, they will thrive. Think of the stories we pick up today that were written in the 70's... close to 30 years ago. Children have been born and raised, schooled and had children of their own since this phenomenon all began. And from each of you who has contributed there is a flower in the garden of life for K/S for Kirk and Spock and what they mean to each other. [30]
From 2014:
Dearest K/S, I love you. There, I said it. 'Twasn't that difficult now, was it? And my initial hesitation to participate in this particular challenge is not your fault - you are perfect, loveable, shining; but putting all the feelings you bring forth in me into a simple love letter takes a certain courage. These three words encompass the total of my fascination with you and with the things that you do to me and make me do. I love you because (at least in TOS) you are so canon that we can hardly speak of subtext anymore. Roddenberry said so.[31] And many others (including the lovely actors who made you breathe and touch and look and smile...) played along so perfectly that I can't believe it wasn't a deliberate choice. I love you because you easily span a galaxy full of genres, tropes and possibilities; you are a world where dramatic angst comes as natural as refined humour, serious topics are as legitimate as weirdest parodies, action-packed mission fics snuggle up to dirtiest porn, and feel-good fluff is as valid as epic hurt/comfort. I love you because you have set a stage so wide and deep that it mirrors the infinity of human experience. I love you because you have inspired people for decades and made them explore their wildest imagination. I love you because you took the philosophy of Trek literally: boldly going where no one has gone before. I love you because you invented slash and exported it to other fandoms, making people see media with different eyes and question their own perception. You even invented gender swap (and I guess I love you even for that, although I am not a big fan of girl!Spock or girl!Kirk). I have heard people say that you were also responsible for the first mpreg story in fandom in general, but I could not verify this so far. I love you because you spawned many, many concepts of Vulcan sexuality and genitalia, among them the beauty that is frals (and with them you stand a good chance of claiming the title of first tentacle introducer in media fandom) and about as many ideas of mind-links, bondings, melding etc. I love you because you let aliens make them do it. I love you because you incited people to break laws (idiotic and hateful laws, but still laws!), so that they could read, write and spread the slashy goodness. I love you because you carry a multitude of AUs and their devices in your canon. I love you because you have brought together people from all over the globe, from all cultures and social classes, uniting them in fannish passion, making them create something that is larger than the sum of its individual parts. I love you because you have your own entry in the OED. I love you because you make me so damn proud of being part of this longstanding fandom, send the craziest plot bunnies to my muse, and constantly let me find something new and squee-worthy about you - no matter how many springs you have seen, how many generations of fen have come and gone. I love you because you have contributed so much to the sheer power of transformative art, and all the while you have transformed us and our world en passant. In unashamed love, yours truly, [L] [32]

Always "Out" Yet "Never "Out"

Because of the early objections to K/S (and because it was the first visible slash media fandom), K/S has always struggled to find a balance between being hidden and being 'out' to other fans. The matter of visibility to the mundane world and/or TPTB was to some fans a seperate issue; other fans lumped all forms of 'outing' together as equal threats to fandom. (See TPTB).

Early K/S fans would often operate with general fandom as part of a sublayer - while they fully participated in the media fandom community, they often had a parallel and seperate second slash life. Zine publishers struggled to find printers who would publish their zines and art, to find conventions where they could openly sell their zines and to find other fans who were interested in K/S. It was not until the 1980s that the first K/S conventions were held. Some Star Trek fan clubs demanded a 'loyalty oath' (swearing they were not, not had they ever been, a slash fan).[33] However, most Star Trek fans turned a blind eye to slash and allowed K/S fandom to operate on the basis of careful screening, segregation and the fannish equivalent of secret handshakes.

Once media fandom fractured into multiple other fandoms, which in turn each had their own slash communities, some of the pressure on K/S fandom was removed. But perhaps because of their early experiences in fandom communities, they remained remarkably closed and distrustful of outsiders, long after other fans had moved online and had openly begun talking about and posting slash. In fact, even as late as 1999, K/S fandom viewed the Internet and Internet fans with hostility and fear.[34]

"There has been some recent discussion in The K/S Press about K/S stories on the Internet. Well, due to a recent job change, I was required to purchase a personal computer. I’m not on the net and of course the first thing I did was to go to the Star Trek sites. I was very amazed and shocked to find out how easy it was to locate “slash” and K/S pages on the web. I did not realize how easy it was for anyone, and I mean anyone, to find out about K/S by simply typing in Star Trek on the search page and going to all the sites. And while I admit that it was a benefit to me, since I downloaded many of the stories to my PC, I was more than a bit dismayed that it was on the web so openly. It left a rather bad taste in my mouth...fact that it is now so openly displayed on the web, for anyone to see, will only add fuel to their fire and perhaps threaten our special fandom....I think that if K/S is to survive, it must remain underground...We don’t need any more nails in the coffin. K/S is not for everyone, so it shouldn’t be available to everyone. But it is and I think that is cause for worry."[35]
"I feel I must respond to something [name redacted] said last month; "Keeping K/S underground is tantamount to saying it is something to be ashamed of." I think I know what you really meant, but that comment is so far off base, it's out of the ballpark entirely. I would always like to have K/S kept "underground"—but NOT inaccessible to those who would search it out. Underground to me means not for public consumption—no articles in magazines and newspapers; no stories on TV about it; no common knowledge of it at all. But still available to people who are into fandom. And actually this is how it's been for many, many years—until now. I believe that "outing" K/S completely will prove to be a big mistake. And here's the most important point I would like to make; I am NOT, and I repeat, NOT inferring or referring or implying or saying or meaning or even thinking about wanting K/S off the Net. I hear and understand those who have absolutely no access to K/S or zines except via the Net. I am very glad (and I know you are too) to have found this divine obsession. And I completely understand and accept the role that the Net has had in bringing in more K/S fans—I applaud it for doing so. What I am saying is that full exposure leads to all kinds of trouble, I believe, because it brings in unwanted elements, prying eyes, and people for whom K/S is dirty, disgusting and must be squashed. For those of you who have never encountered difficulties or prejudice of K/S—that's wonderful, but it's out there in force. Even I, who live in Los Angeles, an extremely progressive city, have experienced fear and loathing of K/S...Pre-Net days, one of the biggest worries was if the zine covers were too explicit to display on your zine table. Even though TPTB were lurking everywhere, K/S was firmly underground.[36]
In September 1999, Judith Gran penned an essay on the fears of K/S fandom titled "Censored" where she attempted to demystify Internet fandom by pointing out that K/S fandom has not really been as underground and hidden as the community liked to believe and that these 'new" fans were not posing a risk to the K/S community.
"K/S fandom has decidedly not been "underground" for by far the greater part of its 25-year existence. When K/S literature and art began appearing in zines in the late 1970s, Star Trek fandom was much larger than it is now, and its boundaries were more permeable. Star Trek conventions were vast affairs at downtown big-city hotels and convention centers, attended by members of the general public as well as by dedicated fans. K/S zines were sold openly at these cons, in full view of mundane citizens and the "suits" from Paramount. Because the Star Trek Welcomittee was actively and publicly disseminating zine listings, fans were able to beat a well-trodden path from pro publications to the Welcomittee to K/S zines and fandom.

I can vouch for the fact that Paramount knew about K/S by at least the early 1980s, if not earlier. In April, 1983, I interviewed the lawyer who was in charge of Star Trek copyright matters for Gulf & Western Corporation (which owned Paramount before Viacom) about fan fiction and fair use. He initiated the topic of K/S, and it was clear that he was well aware of its existence and that Paramount had no intention of doing anything about it....When, twenty years ago, anti-K/S fen attacked the publishing of K/S fan fiction "openly" in zines, I'm sure that some of them believed sincerely that this would be the death-knell of fandom. But others just did not want K/S to be published, period, and used every argument they could think of to stop it from appearing in zines. Similarly, I suspect that some of the in terrorem arguments against K/S online may be coming from fans who are unhappy about net fandom and wish it didn't exist at all.

For those who are unhappy about K/S on the net, I agree that net fandom can be scary. It's different from the printfan community. It's larger, more diverse, and like any community, it has its own norms, values and mores. But wishing won't make it go away."[37]

The editors of the K/S Press letterzine refused to print Judith's letter, deeming it too inflammatory for their community. Some fans noted that Judith's letter disagreed with the letterzine editor's argument that K/S needed to remain underground, and, in some minds, the refusal to print the letter only validated Judith's position. The letter was then posted openly to the Internet. [38]

Like all media fandoms, the back and forth debate proved to be moot as the global reach and immediacy of the Internet permanently transformed fandoms and their communities. K/S, like other fandoms, became as visible (or invisible) as any other online activity.

K/S conventions (Very incomplete)

  • 1984 - 1988 IDICon -- the first true K/S or slash con -- in Houston
  • 2005 - present KisMet, held in the UK

Influential K/S Works

Star Trek Lives!, edited and written by Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Sondra Marshak and Joan Winston, was published by Bantam, 1975. While there is a chapter on fan fiction, slash is not discussed. The stories covered are ones like "Joy in the Morning", The Price of a Handful of Snowflakes, The Daneswoman, Spock Enslaved, Judith Brownlee's T'Pelle stories, and the Federation and Empire series, which all involve Spock and Kirk with women. However, the authors do illustrate that Kirk and Spock love each other in a nonphysical sense. There are also many pages devoted to the idea that women's liberation can also mean the liberation of men to express feelings more openly -- an end to the idea that "men don't cry". They discuss this in interviews with both William Shatner and (ironically enough) George Takei. [39]

Winston also describes Shatner camping it up during the filming of "Turnabout Intruder", where he had to play a female, and at one point turned a serious line into a confession of eternal love for Spock. The stage crew called this episode "Captain Kirk, Space Queen."

Gene Roddenberry revealed in Star Trek Lives that because he did not enjoy the typical amusements of his father's hyper-macho Southern culture, he was perceived as having something wrong with him: "Probably, say, I was... [different]". It is obvious from the context that "different" was substituting for "homosexual", ensuring that the book could be sold to and read by children and teenagers, Star Trek's presumed audience.[40]

Shatner: Where No Man by Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath includes a statement by Gene Roddenberry which slash fans like to interpret as meaning that he intended to portray Kirk and Spock as lovers.[41] The authors couched their questions to Roddenberry in terms of Shatner having played Alexander the Great in a tv-movie and link that to the Kirk-Spock friendship in the context of Mary Renault's novels about Alexander the Great, which details Alexander's homosexual love with his close friend Hephaistion.

Asked if he saw the Kirk-Spock friendship as "two halves which come together to make a whole", Gene replied:

Oh, yes. As I've said, I definitely designed it as a love relationship. I think that's what we're all about -- love, the effort to reach out to each other. I think that's a lovely thing. Also, dramatically, I designed Kirk and Spock to complete each other, and in fact the Kirk, Spock, McCoy triad to be the dramatic embodiment of the parts of one person: logic, emotion, and the balance between them. You cannot have an internal monologue on screen, so that is a way of personifying it, getting it out where it can be seen -- that internal debate which we all have within And I designed Kirk and Spock, as I told you, as dream images of myself, the two halves. But in terms of the characters, yes. That closeness. Absolutely.
Marshak and Culbreath: "There's a great deal of writing in the Star Trek movement now which compares the relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion to the relationship between Kirk and Spock -- focusing on the closeness of the friendship, the feeling that they would die for one another --"

Roddenberry: "Yes, there's certainly some of that, certainly with love overtones. Deep love. The only difference being, the Greek ideal... we never suggested in the series... physical love between the two. But it's the... we certainly had the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century." (He looks thoughtful.) "That's very interesting. I never thought of that before."[42]

The novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture by Gene Roddenberry, 1980, contained the much-discussed t'hy'la reference, possibly inspired by his conversations with Marshak and Culbreath. Until this incident, many fans had not realized that they were not alone in imagining a gay love affair for Kirk and Spock.

Some Zines and Fanfiction

The Price and The Prize 2nd edition
The Price and The Prize, 1st edition (1981). Most copies coming into Britain were seized by Customs, even the contributors' copies, because of the explicit content. Note: This image has been marked as sexually explicit and has been minimised.

Here is a list of Kirk/Spock_Zines. Also see Category:Star Trek TOS Slash Zines. Also see: The Foresmutter's Bibliography of Early, Early K/S.




screnshot of the viral youtube version of Closer

K/S Awards

Beginning in 1984, and again in 1997, K/S fan writers, feeling that their slash contributions were not getting enough recognition, began holding their own awards: the K/Star Award and the Philon awards respectively.

K/S Online

For much of K/S history, K/S fans participated in fandom through conventions, fanzines, and other offline spaces. However, "old school" K/S can be found today in many online spaces.


  • In 1982 net.startrek [45] was created as one of the first 20 or so newsgroups. As part of the Great Usenet Renaming, it became rec.arts.startrek in 1986.
  • In 1990, alt.startrek.creative appeared. Soon after, started, and almost from the start, the k/s-ers and gen fans pushed back and forth. One prominent k/s fan got tired of the same arguments being used against k/s over and over, and created the K/S Retort sometime after 1990.[46]
  • In 1996: Killa (as Killashandra) posted "Turning Point", the first attributed K/S story on the internet, to alt.startrek.creative.
  • In 1998, the Rude Person meme began on Alt.startrek.creative.erotica.moderated, which resulted in a group of K/S parody stories written in various styles and dialects.

Archives and Challenges

Social Media Sites

(livejournal comms, tumblrs?)

K/S in the Dictionary

A number of Trek and K/S fans contributed cites to the OED to get K/S into the dictionary: Meg Garrett submitted a 1984 cite from the letterzine "Not Tonight Spock!". Susan Payne submitted a 1978 cite from a letter by Juanita Salicrup in Obsc'zine, and a 1977 cite for the form "Kirk/Spock" from a letter by Susan Bridges in Obsc'zine. Joan Marie Verba submitted a 1978 cite from a review in the fanzine "Scuttlebutt, and a 1975 cite for "Kirk/Spock" from the Fanzine Halkan Council 12.

Added to the OED as a new entry in September 2003 with an earliest cite of 1978.[47]

Outsider Reactions To K/S and to Slash in General

Outsider reactions vary. Fans often do not distinguish between academics or the press writing about K/S - both carry the same potential (in fannish minds) for ridicule and mischaracterization.

Fan fiction is often synonymous with slash in the press. Non-fans reading these articles could easily receive the impression that all fan fiction is slash.



Further Reading/Meta


  1. From a review of Enter-comm #2 from a fan in Universal Translator #5. Presumably she meant "suspend disbelief" rather than 'suspend belief."
  2. and which you can see at Letters of Note: Getting Star Trek on the Air
  3. Marc Cushman, These are the Voyages: Season Two.Jacobs Brown 2014.
  4. Kirk did get many opportunities after that to dress up and to have plenty of adventures with dashing, heroic deeds. The idea of solving mysteries also seems to have been passed on to Jean-Luc Picard.
  5. One would say "grossed out". Bjo Trimble referred to slash writers as a "bunch of twisted sickos".
  6. comment by Fizzbin at So this is gen?, February 27, 1999
  7. Non-sexual stories in which James Kirk becomes telepathic or is able to communicate with Spock include Claire Gabriel's Ni Var, which had appeared in New Voyages, and some stories in the Kraith series by Jacqueline Lichtenberg. Kirk's incipient telepathy is actually canon in terms of the episode "Obsession".
  8. Jenna Sinclair, "Short History of Early K/S."
  9. from Universal Translator #22
  10. see issues #3, #4...
  11. Boldly Writing: A Trekker Fan and Zine History, 1967 - 1987
  13. The Myth that Men Don't or Won't Support Slash. Fan blogger phene-thyla-mine, March 11, 2014.
  14. 14.0 14.1 See Anita Bryant's anti-gay crusade for some history of what was happening in gay rights at the time.
  15. See LGBT History in Michigan and Daniel Tsang, "Gay Ann Arbor Purges," Midwest Gay Academic Journal 1 (1977): 13-19, cited in the 'Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader' by Henry Ablove (1993)) for a look at gay rights in Michigan at the same time as the convention.
  16. 16.0 16.1 The Christian Right began its takeover of the Republican Party around this time. See the articles on Moral Majority and the Christian Right for more; also, Holy Terror by Conway and Siegelman, and Republican Gomorrah by Max Blumenthal for some of the history and origins of this movement.
  17. Homosexual behavior in animals
  18. The Fabulous Kingdom of Gay Animals in Salon, March 16, 1999.
  19. The Gay Animal Kingdom in Seed, June 2006.
  20. From Vicki's 2007 interview which was published in Legacy.
  21. Possibly referring to an episode of Maude about a gay bar, the TV-movie Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn, and the satirical series Soap featuring Billy Crystal as a gay man who for a time believed he was a transgendered woman.
  22. "Spock Shaped Snickerdoodles, dated July 27, 2009, accessed Feb 9, 2011; WebCite.
  23. Ibid.
  24. See Brittany Diamond's Analyzation of Amok Time and Killa's Where No One Had Slashed Before.
  25. In Shatner: Where No Man, p. 193.
  26. Why Slash was the Whole Point of Star Trek, The Motion Picture. Apparently one of the reasons the film had to have a secret slash message was that without it, "it is simply inconceivable that the creator of such an intelligent series would let its first foray onto the big screen be such a trite science fiction story."
  27. from Not Tonight, Spock! #2
  28. from On the Double #6
  29. from an interview with Carol Frisbie in Not Tonight, Spock! #3
  30. from The K/S Press #48 in 2000
  31. A reference to Roddenberry's equivocal statement about "deep love" in Shatner: Where No Man, when asked if Kirk and Spock had been meant as a 23rd-century equivalent of Alexander the Great and his second-in-command/lover Hephaistion.
  32. by a fan named [L B] in The K/S Press #204 (2014), Original posted on DreamWidth as Day 14 of the snowflake_challenge. “In your own space, write a love letter. Write it to fandom in general, to a particular fandom, to a trope, a relationship, a character, or to your flist. Share your love and squee as loud as you want to.”
  33. In her interview in Legacy Kathy Resch recounts an incident from the late 1970s: "Person A, a Big Name Fan who ran a fan club for Unnamed Trek Actor, was pitching a fit about this Horrible Nasty Zine and was asking fan club members to basically swear a “loyalty oath” that under no circumstances would they ever have anything to do with said Horrible Nasty Zine or K/S at all. (Almost all my tribbers were members of said fan club.)"
  34. To contrast, the The Starsky & Hutch Archive went online in the mid 1990s. Sentinel fandom had their slash fan fiction archive up by 1996. The Due South Archive began in 1994.
  35. The LOC Connection #34 (June 1999).
  36. The LOC Connection #36 (August 1999).
  37. Censored, an essay by Judith Gran (1999), found on the Foresmutters Project.
  38. Link to original post, archived here.
  39. Male feminism was at its height when Star Trek Lives was written and published. Will Farrell, Michael Korda and Mark Fasteau all had books out about how feminism would help men. Ironically, Farrell is now one of the foremost "blame feminism" pundits.
  40. Star Trek premiered in 1966, the same year that Alfred Kinsey's book Human Sexual Response was published. This book and the development of the birth-control pill, plus several landmark court cases in which explicit works of literature were declared not obscene, helped to launch the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s. By 1974, mainstream libraries and bookstores, especially at or near college campuses, had begun to carry books dealing with or mentioning homosexuality, but children might have only limited access to these. Books with explicit heterosexual content, on the other hand, were routinely sold in supermarkets and drugstore check-out aisles. The descriptions of sex in Star Trek Lives were mild compared to what children could pick up on a newsstand, but books about or mentioning homosexuality might be, in some places in the U.S., particularly in the South, confined to the adults only section. As David Gerrold points out in his book, "more than one young would-be fan has been prohibited from attending Trek-cons or reading Trek-zines because his/her parents have seen this material."
  41. Given that Roddenberry refers at one point to "straight" fanzines, it's very likely that they spoke openly about slash with Shatner, Nimoy and Roddenberry and that these parts of the interview could not be published at the time.
  42. Page 148. It seems that he did not deliberately intend Kirk and Spock as lovers when the show was on the air, and he does say they never suggested that in the series. The "we" who believed "the affection was sufficient" is unknown.
  43. The Foresmutters Project
  44. The Footnote by Judith Gran, 1997 on alt.startrek.creative
  45. net.startrek
  46. K/S Retort
  47. Science Fiction Citations page

Please, Captain. Not in front of the Klingons.

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