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Why Is There So Much Gay in My Fandom?

I write fanfic. Epic, world-expanding, side-character developing, backstory-building, alternate-universe exploring fanfic. Something I hear with fair regularity from people both in and outside fandom is, “Why are so many of the characters in your stories gay or bisexual? Why are you making this canon character gay or bisexual? Why are all his friends gay or bisexual? That’s totally unrealistic.”

[TLDR: It is so realistic. Queer people form social groups; deal with it.]

There are a lot of potential answers here, among them the fact that I’m queer and I want to write about (and read about and look at artwork portraying) characters like myself. I could go on at length about how queer fic subverts the cultural bias against male intimacy, and is a direct result of a sexist system that casts almost all the interesting characters as male. I could discuss heteronormative bias in mainstream media, and the vast reservoir of het fandom that exists in parallel to queer fandom. I could point out that actually, I write quite a few straight characters into my stories, too.

But there’s another answer that’s just as, if not more, important: It’s totally realistic.

I’m queer in real life. And in real life, so are the majority of my friends. I have straight friends, for sure, but I have a lot of queer friends. Lesbian friends, gay friends, bi friends, trans* friends. You know why? Because people with similar interests and life experiences tend to form social groups. We hang out together because, in part, we have queerness in common. In a world where our queerness makes us the “them”, when we’re together, we’re the “us.” That makes a huge difference to our psychological and social well being. In many cases we know each other because we are queer. That’s how we met—at an LGBT event or social gathering place. And then we found out we shared other things in common, and we became friends. Or we met at work, and found each other because we shared queerness, and that led, again, to a discovery that we had other things in common, and we became friends.

When I write about a bunch of queer characters all hanging out together and being friends, dating, and having sex with one another, I’m not inventing a fantasy social structure that doesn’t exist in the real world. Queer people really do hang out, form social groups, date each other, have sex, and set their other queer friends up with dates with each other. The fantasy element is that it’s these characters, in this particular world. And that it’s not such a big deal. It’s not just tacitly assumed that everyone is straight until proven otherwise.

So why is there so much gay in my fandom? Because just like in real life, there’s a fair amount of gay everywhere, if you look in the right places.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jan. 20th, 2014 03:38 am (UTC)
Dude. Absolutely. I like your anthopological / sociological point. People with common interests tend to for social groups, period.

I also asume there are more people like me out there who are bisexual, but utterly and completely monogomous so their bisexuality is basically invisible.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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