Queer Fandom

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Related terms: Representation, Politics
See also: Slash, Femslash, Aro Fandom, Asexuality and Fandom, Sapphic Fandom, Mspec Fandom, Trans Characters in Fandom, Gender and Fandom, Homophobia in Fandom, Transphobia in Fandom, Queercoding, Queerbaiting
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Fandom and the exploration of queerness have long gone hand in hand, whether in the form of slash, femslash or the multitude of other fanworks, discussions, metas and communities created by or about queer folk that have existed within the world of fandom.

Canon Representation

Early Examples

Implicit vs. Explicit

Though many source texts will make it clear the specific identity a queer character uses, in other cases, the texts themselves won't specify the exact sexuality of a character. This is particularly common in fandoms whose source texts have family friendly target audiences.

For example, two characters – Mulan and Ruby – from Once Upon A Time is never specified on screen. With Mulan the headcanons differ between whether she's bi or a lesbian, and with Ruby Lucas's, though given her onscreen relationships with both men and women, most people assume she's bi. However even with that context, headcanons of her being a lesbian will occasionally surface, often due to reflecting issues such as internalised lesbophobia or heteronormativity.

Documenting

Every year, GLAAD[1] releases their Where We Are On TV report, documenting the representation efforts of TV shows and allowing both the general public and fans to reflect on their media.

Own Voices

Fandom

Subcommunities

Queer Fandom encompasses a wide range of groups and people. Subcommunities relating to different sub-groups of the queer/LGBTQ+ community exist:

Specific Fandoms

Some fandoms are known for having a larger queer following than others, whether intentionally or not. Many of these are known to be key examples of queer media or an important part of queer fandom culture:

Meta

Written

Presentations

Communities & Websites

Websites

Livejournal

Blogs

Challenges

Fests

Prompt Memes

Mailing Lists

Events

Awards

Fan Clubs

Assimilation vs. Liberation

The issue around the politics of assimilation and liberation in relation to the LGBTQ+/Queer community is a complex one, and one that inevitably influences both the canon representation available, as well as the many ways in which queer fandom itself manifests.

  • Assimiliation is the concept that queer folk should be accepted into the society as is, and encouraged to integrate into the dominant culture. Assimiliation is associated with more liberal or moderate positions.
  • Liberation is the concept that queer folk should be accepted, but not in a way that forces queer culture and identity to be suppressed or played down, and in a way that doesn't attempt to appease the domiant culture, or does so at the expense of more marginalised members of the community. Liberation is associated with more leftist or radical positions, advocating for bigger, societal changes in order to ensure the freedom of queer folk.

The influence of queer politics, such as this, on fandom is numerous. Many fandoms with source materials produced by and for the mainstream, such as the MCU or Star Wars, are often likely to include representation that leans towards assimilation, rather than liberation. Some fans will argue that much of the canon media representation is often designed to be palatable to the normative structures of society.

However there are many nuances to this issue, least of all due to the Western centred narrative regarding both queerness and fandom, and the influence that has on many of the discussions had.

Intersectionality

Intersectionality is a term coined and developed by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw to refer to the ways in which different identities and axes of oppression interlink and overlap with each other.

As it applies to fandom, and specifically queer fandom, many fans have pointed out some of the ways in which oppression and systemic bigotry affect the ways in which queer fans interact with fandom, and the struggles existing in these spaces. For example:

  • Fandom preferances for white queerness rather than the queerness of POC, and some of the alienation that comes from that.
  • Infiltration of TERFs into fandom spaces and the effects on trans fans.

Fanworks

Fanfiction

Fanvids

Zines

Fanart

Recs

See Also

Resources/External Links


Related Concepts, Fandoms, Terms, Fanworks
See also Lists of LGBT fictional charactersList of media portrayals of bisexualityMedia portrayal of lesbianism


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