Citizens of BTB, it has been my privilege to serve you honorably and dutifully as your Secretary of Comic Books and Video Games. I will cherish the pride and memories of my duty for all my days. But as we know, change is the mother of progress, and I feel that is in the best interest of both my personal journey and the mission of this blog that regrettable, though beneficial, change is made.

And that is why, as of today, I am promoting myself to Minister of Geekdom & Geek Culture. With a dominion spanning anime to Zork, the informative commentary I will be able to provide our Emp—I mean blog will be unfathomable!

Hear this, ye of little faith: bang bang, pew pew, bitchslap. Any questions?

To prove my bloginess in the face of doubt, I will demonstrate my knowledge and understanding of a powerful and destructive force of internet culture, a nigh-invulnerable brood that has assimilated and subjugated every media fandom. A force that some say is the very backbone of fan community.

Below The Belt...I bring you...slash.

A brief 101 for those of you with some semblance (see also: illusion) of life: slash refers to non-canonical pairings (usually same-sex) of characters from fictitious media in the form of fan fiction, fan art, or cleverly edited video montages. The practice is widely believed to have started with female authors writing Spock/Kirk fiction (the eponymous “/” is used to denote the pairing featured in the fic, as if any of you reading this don't already have folders on your hard drive devoted to this. Get a job! Or better yet, find me one!). According to an anonymous talking head in the documentary Trekkies (which is about as respectable and acclaimed expert on the subject as I care to seek out), the early pioneers of this now ever-expansive trend were heterosexual women who “loved Spock and Kirk, but didn't want to see them with other women”. Sounds vaguely familiar...

With the rise of the internet, a hobby once shared within local fan communities can now be viewed and distributed worldwide, and with great exposure comes great participation. Fanfiction and slash communities boast contributions in the thousands (simply typing in “slash” in the search bar on DeviantArt yields over 8000 entries), running the gamut of literature, film, and television. Starsky & Hutch. Dragonball Z. Harry Potter. The Bible. Pushers of Hot Topic paraphenalia My Chemical Romance. If it exists, there is porn of it on the internet. Commit that to memory, for it is the closest thing to a universal truth we can hope to comprehend in a day and age where Kirk Cameron can make videos of himself trying to disprove evolution with a banana and nobody tries to stop him.

I think that's enough exposition, don't you? If you aren't already filling out the comment box with your favorite slash stories and articles, a veritable ocean of discovery and education (see also: days of your life you will never get back) await you. It would not be fair for me to tell my parents that it is not my job to educate them on trans issues, turn around, and write you a “slash fic 101”, especially given my attitudes and opinions about the medium.

And that's what this comes down to, in the end, the “why” (should you care) of this article.

How do I, as a queer, feel about slashfic?

Spoiler Alert: I don't care much for it.

Much of this sentiment can be chalked up to wiring; I am a queer woman, and the prospect of reading about the sexual exploits of two men appeals to me even less than the having my own sexual exploit with a man does. I am not likely to change my mind about either, unless perhaps there was a lot of money involved. Or doing so allowed me to challenge Paul Scott to a steel cage deathmatch. It is one of my life dream's to wear bright pink singlet and put someone in a Mexican Surfboard without going to jail for it. It's not “cure cancer” but it's kept me in school and off of (most) drugs. I fear the popularity of forced feminization literature in the kink community has convinced many of my female cohorts (both cis and trans) that every gender-variant/transgendered MAAB person secretly craves a sexual encounter with a man, even if it has to be quote forcibly coerced unquote. This is not to suggest that I would be ungrateful if dominatices kidnapped me in the night, gave me hair extensions and had a surgeon from Brazil perform overnight SRS that would fully heal up the next day. Just. Putting that out there.

Despite my personal preferences, I respect slashfic as a viable medium of fan fiction. While on the topic, I think there needs to be a much more critical analysis of what constitutes “fan fiction”. Many television shows, including Star Trek, the franchise that banged the gong for this literary orgy, have an open submission policy in regards to scripts, and many tv/film scripts and novelizations are written by fans of the genre/franchise being depicted. Cosmically, the only difference between an author who writes a Star Was Expanded Universe novel and a Star Wars fanfic is creator approval (see also: royalty checks). No matter how you look at it, I'm still an idiot for waiting an hour in line at an Air Force BX for Michael A Stackpole to autograph my copy of Rogue Squadron. I try not to think of how much rejection, disappointment and alienation from my parents I missed out on in my childhood because I was too busy to read those damn books, lest I go insane with regret and research building a time machine. Again.

Slashfic is often described as a breakthrough in queer visibility/empowerment in fan communities, important to the formation of queer identities, and a defiant struggle against “compulsory heterosexuality”. The aforementioned statements have one thing in common: probably made by heteronormative academics. While I can appreciate how a Harry/Draco story might have a positive impact on a gay teen struggling for a positive and informative portrayal of homoerotic coupling (if there is one thing everyone in the rainbow has in common, it's that we've all been asked “how we”), suggesting that m/m fiction written by hetero women is good for the visibility or acceptance of the commnity is suggesting that f/f porn directed by and marketed to heterosexual men would do the same. Which it doesn't, as mentioned above in the link that you should have clicked because I'm not doing this shit for my health, you know. While there certainly must exist prominent queer slash writers, the fact is that that slash has its roots in heteronormativity and the internet has done little to change that. And, sadly, we must also accept that any medium, no matter how “specific to our interests” it may seem, will have a disproportionate heternormative to queer ratio (if not at its creation, then over time), reflecting the general population. I know straight cis guys who write gay erotica and yaoi artists (underage slash art) who quote Leviticus in message boards and make their own “Yes On 8” posters. Sex does not and never will equal visibility or acceptance. Sex just is.

I see your hand up. Put it down, I know what you're going to ask. While I have perused some femslash in my day, you could by no stretch of the imagination label me a “casual reader”. Most femslash is, like “lesbian” porn, made by and marketed to heterosexual men, the very same who voted against our right to marry and get up in my face and feel my face for stubble at the gas station (I don't have a smoking habit or belong to a gym, so all I have to hold on to are my grudges). On occasion I will read a psssage of femslash written by a female author (but it might just be a man with a female pen name, I know a guy who does that too), though I admittedly do so out of amusement and not out of any sense of literary curiosity or enterprise. I have on occasion MSTK3'd a fan or slash fic (I describe the phenomena in my guest appearance on the Scarlet Betch podcast here), but I don't do this to undermine or demean the medium or the writers, but to fill up the hole inside of me where love or a belief in a higher power should be.

Permit me for playing this broken record one more time, but witnessing the popularity of slashfic, especially amongst my fellow queers, does make me pine for more queer-authored genre fiction. Some slash and fan fic is quite good, and would stand on its own if the names, references, and in-jokes were changed or at least modified to avoid being found out by copyright law (if James Cameron can turn Pocahontas into Avatar you can do ANYTHING YOU WANT). Unfortunately, it is my experience that convincing slash/fanfic writers to create original content is a lot like getting a skeptical Christian to become agnostic/atheist; you become so devoted to your fandom/community/belief that you simply can't bring yourself to apply your talents outside of that arena. Commit this to memory, too. This may be the only time in recorded history I make a FAVORABLY COMPARE ANYTHING TO RELIGION. When I first moved to the Bay, I had just left my job, the drive from Phoenix cost $150, and I was looking at paying rent for the first time. I would not be here where I am today if it weren't for two of friends of mine in Texas, servants of God the both of them, sending me money so I can buy for groceries and hormones. And every time I rage and protest at religion or refuse to “let it go” when someone brings up the topic of God in a queer space, a part of me dies because I fear that doing so is in some way dismissing or negating the love and compassion they've shown me despite our spiritual differences.

Returning to your regularly scheduled program...

I will say this about slashfic, however: I approve of it and the work it does in proving/confirming the many “secret homoerotic overtones” available in seemingly “straight” media that I can be found ranting about in various corners of the blogosphere. While the trend has shifted somewhat from male friendships (Kick/Spock, Starsky/Hutch) to antagonistic relationships (Dr. Who/Master, Harry/Draco), the source of “speculation” remains the same; attraction forming from an intense emotional bond between people. Aren't platonic and romantic relationships different only by degrees, and aren't love and hate different sides of the same coin? Obsession is obsession, no matter what spurs it. Perhaps it's not just the thrill of going behind canon's back for a forbidden tryst, but pursuing the path not traveled but ultimately still stemming from the same road.

Maybe all good slash is made with a spoonful of truthiness. And maybe, just maybe, we're all just a little bit gay (or straight) for someone close to us. If this does not float well with you, I will not only retract this statement but deny under oath that I ever made it.

And that concludes this broadcast from your Minister of Geekdom & Geek Culture.

Thank you for listening.

The Rainbow Prevails.

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