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Known Associates is an epic-length MCU fanfic written by thingswithwings over the course of three years and posted in 2016. The fic covers Steve Rogers's entire backstory from the 1930s (pre-Captain America: The First Avenger) to the present (post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier), reimagining his sexual identity and relationships in the context of queer history. The AO3 post includes a bibliography.
Author's summary: Steve Rogers isn't a self-made man. Or, how a tough little Brooklyn fairy got turned into Captain America, and then turned back.
This is such a wonderful love letter not only to Steve Rogers, but also to queer identity and the concept of carving out queer spaces and room for queer identities in the middle of all the spaces that tell you "no you can't" and I want to roll around in it forever.
The whole story was beautiful and well-plotted and paced, with the superhero kids as an added plot in the modern day that I was really interested in. I can see why this fic took you three years, with all the care and thought and research that's gone into it, and how it feels so honestly like Steve's exploration of self and world, not like research thrown together. I can't express everything I loved about it, but it was really amazing to read this week.
I can't pick out favorite moments just yet (the entire thing is my favorite moment!!!!), but probably the thing I love most overall is the way you ended it. On the one hand I was kind of looking forward to seeing the Steve-Bucky reunion, but on the other hand I love the sense of a continuing narrative that you've left us with. So many CA fics are about the Steve/Bucky love story, and about Steve and Bucky finding their way forward together, which I love! But this was such a different take on that narrative, having Steve find his own way, giving him a life separate from Bucky's.
ughhhhhhhhhhhhh that was so beautiful i'm crying so much. thank you so so much for this fic. it's honestly one of the best works of art about queer history and community that i have ever consumed, be they fanmade or not.
I cannot say thank you enough for this fic. It was so insanely cathartic - it made me feel good to be myself in a way I haven't felt in a long time.
Localfreak's Fic Recs blog:
It is BEAUTIFUL AND WONDERFUL AND EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT screams the queer cultural nerd deep within my soul.
I'm really only in this fandom for Bucky Barnes so I did wonder at many points what I was doing reading this behemoth reorientation of Captain America to be a story about a v specific and historicised kind of queer liberation instead of, you know, metal arm honey. But it was beautifully written and achingly optimistic, and the author brought me on board with that earnestness.
I'm ambivalent. It's an epic accomplishment, very well written. I cried multiple times. I loved the historical chapters, the creation of the Brooklyn gay milieu, Steve's discovery of his "pansy" identity, getting together with Bucky, Steve's difficulty adjusting to his new body. The modern section was less satisfying to me. The author's agenda is more evident and gets in the way of the story, I think. Steve/Sam was a complete rehash of Steve/Rhodey and it felt like the only reason for it was to show that Steve was poly. I forgot to say that another thing that bugged me about this fic was that FREAKING EVERYBODY is LGBTQ and/or poly. Everybody. And, minor point, but Tony Stark does not have feminine mannerisms or is this some fanon I don’t know about.
This was an AMAZINGLY preachy story, but in a weird reactionary way. I hate the way fandom does feminization, I really hate how it's done in relation to Steve, and this story seems to say a lot of Steve's leftover gender essentialism from being gay in the 30s is, well, fine. The truth is after the serum, Steve doesn't have that slender small body anymore, and while I can see how the author wanted him to be able to reclaim the drag and makeup and queer the image of the beefy American male superhero, I was very unconvinced it would have worked this way.
In a post on the Communist Party of the UK's culture website, Lucy Pearson wrote:
One novel-length Captain America story, thingswithwings’ Known Associates, asks not only what might have been left out of Marvel’s official narratives about Captain America, but also what has been left out of official histories in the real world.... The story introduces readers to the long history of activism in America, making the point that the expectation that a figure from the past would be conservative overlooks the radicalism of previous eras.
- fanart by isozyme (April 30, 2016)
- comment discussion of use of fan labor by academic ethnographers, by thingswithwings and battychibimonster, including mention of institutional review boards for human studies
- synechdochic, 19 March 2016
- lady_ragnell, 25 March 2016
- tinycactus, 25 March 2016
- wonderwomanselfie, 25 March 2016
- KiobiTheKid, 25 June 2016
- Avengers Rec: Known Associates by thingswithwings, 27 March 2016.
- 27 March 2016 anon comment
- 18 April 2016 anon comment
- 20 April 2016 anon comment
- 20 April 2016 anon comment
- Lucy Pearson. The child colonisers: fanfiction and young people’s reading power. Culture Matters 31 August 2016.