I’ve published a lot of fandom-y posts lately. I’m sorry if that’s not your cup of tea… because tonight, I’m doing it again. Because reasons. And fangirling.
I want to talk about fangirling, stories, and how one’s identity affects both!
Because it totally does. Who you are has something to do with the stories you love, I think. Whether you just consume stories or create them too – through art, writing, music, et cetera – it affects you. In some way.
Think about it: If you want to be a scientist, reading a story about one will be a blast. If you’re an introvert, it’s reassuring to read about someone whose friendships mirror your own. If you play any sport, watching a movie about a team that plays “your” sport is an awesome way to spend an evening.
It’s fun to find a character who’s like you – maybe they live in the same state/country, or they’re also the youngest in their family, or they’re afraid of what the future may bring and so are you.
It’s just plain fun to see oneself in fiction, reflected in a particular character. It’s also just plain important – we all want someone we can identify with. Someone we can point to and say, “This character reminds me of myself and my interests, hopes, dreams, and future plans” or, if you’re feeling particularly eloquent, “IT ME!”
So, yeah. I think your identity has some impact on what types of characters you love, and which TV shows make you laugh, and which movies you are most excited for. It’s not the sole factor in that sort of thing – not by any means – but it does affect you in some way.
Being a lesbian definitely has an impact on which stories I love. Whether I hate or adore something is determined, in part, by my orientation. I cheer when I find queer characters in fiction, and I boo when they’re poorly written. Being gay is one of the things that makes me the fangirl that I am, that pushes me to read certain stories and avoid others.
As I stated before, it’s not the only thing that affects whether I read/watch story A or story B. There are a bazillion kajillion other aspects of my identity…
- Female: I love finding complex, well-written, fascinating women & girls in fiction, and lots of them! And I want characters of other genders to treat them respectfully.
- Teenager: I don’t generally watch little-kid shows or reruns of shows from, I don’t know, the fifties and sixties.
- American: Some shows are popular in the US but not the UK, or vice versa. And though I’ve enjoyed all the Aussie YA I’ve read, such books just aren’t widely available over here.
- Shy: When I talked about that introvert a few paragraphs ago, I was referring to myself.
- Aspiring author/journalist: HECK YES. I looooove stories about creative writer-y types.
As I’ve said many times before, being gay doesn’t make up one’s ENTIRE identity, but it does play an important role in one’s life and it shouldn’t be ignored. Shouldn’t be glossed over.
And that’s exactly how being gay affects the fangirling side of my life: I enjoy finding characters who are female, or extremely introverted, or in their teens, or who live in the same region of the United States that I do, or who wish to write for a living, or who are LGBTQ+. (Or any combination of the above! That is even MORE delightful, honestly.) My point is, LGBTQ+ characters/themes aren’t the only things I look for in fiction, but on the other hand I don’t not look for them.
So. How does being queer affect Engie’s Fangirl Life?
1. I read a ton of books with LGBTQ+ characters. This much should be obvious to anyone who’s followed my blog for more than, like, a week.
2. I became interested in various online campaigns such as We Need Diverse Books because I wanted to see more queer people like myself in fiction. Up until a few years ago, I didn’t know much about any LGBTQ+ stuff, so it wasn’t something I looked for when I was a wee Engie.
3. I made a very deliberate choice to support LGBTQ+ authors – especially the relatively unknown / up-and-coming ones – by posting online reviews, frequently mentioning their books on this blog, buying their stories, recommending their books to friends, following (and promo-ing) them via social media, and more. This way, I’m doing my own little part in raising awareness that LOVELY LOVELY QUEER BOOKS DO EXIST YOU JUST HAVE TO LOOK FOR THEM.
4. I write the stories I want to read by including tons and tons of queer characters. Someday I hope to publish these stories so that other tiny queer nerds can fangirl over them!
5. I’ve noticed that I am really picky about straight romance now. This wasn’t true a few years ago, but that’s because I’d only ever read/watched straight love stories and didn’t know that any other kinds existed. And now I find myself critiquing it all the time, mostly because I’ve noticed that it’s everywhere. Everywhere! Even in places where it doesn’t really need to be – why is it that when I see a commercial on TV, sometimes there’s a random straight couple? Like, the lady who’s tidying her house will flirt with the buff dude pictured on the label of the cleaning product, or something like that… but having a same-gender couple in fiction is “in your face”? Um.
6. Speaking of fictional relationships, my favorite ships consist of about 80% queer couples and 20% straight couples. (Or thereabouts.) For example, for the A Song of Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones fandom, my ships are fairly evenly split between canon M/F and M/M pairings, and fanon F/F pairings. But that’s not the case with Harry Potter, since Remus/Tonks is the only canon or M/F pairing I ship. (I’m all about Ginny/Hermione, Lavender/Parvati, Remus/Sirius, Sirius/James, and most importantly… GINNY/LUNA.)
7. Sometimes I want to watch a particular show, but I never end up starting it because I know how uncomfortable it will make me. BBC Sherlock springs immediately to mind: I love its music and cinematography and modern take on ACD’s original mysteries, but I don’t love the queerbaiting – and Irene Adler’s “LOL I’m gay no longer” storyline made me feel slightly sick. So I quit the show. Supernatural is another example of this; it’s basically the most queerbait-y show out there. The plot sounds amazing, but I’m not willing to sit through ten (or however many) seasons of queerness being treated as an effing punchline just to see another urban fantasy story.
8. When I do stumble across a wonderful story with lots and lots of LGBTQ+ characters, that story basically becomes my EVERYTHING and I treasure it so, so much because I so rarely find stories like that. The webseries Carmilla is a fine example of that; I basically fell in love with that show because all the main characters are queer like me! And they’re not mocked or killed off, either. The plot is all about THEM.
9. I get ridiculously attached to minor queer characters or characters who only might be queer because, like I said, I haven’t found a heck of a lot. Oberyn Martell, Ellaria Sand, Loras & Margaery Tyrell, Taena Merryweather – those are just a few examples, from only one fandom.
10. Essentially, I tend to get excited about LGBTQ+ characters because “look! it’s ME!” whereas my straight friends are just in it for the cuteness factor – and that’s OK. We’re different people; we can be into it for different things. But that’s what it means to me, and that’s why I get ridiculously excited every time I see a cute queer girl onscreen or in the pages of a book.
11. FANWORKS. I love them! I love fanart because that’s what I’d be making I only I could actually draw. But I can’t. Anyway, stuff like art is a good place to find all the cute F/F content that may or may not be part of the original book/movie/show. Yay for Ca
Well, now it’s YOUR turn, and I have a request for you! Pick some part of your identity and tell me if it has any impact on what stories you are most likely to read over and over again out of sheer adoration, or which characters you frequently find yourself strongly relating to. Pick any part of who you are / what makes you you – an interest, your ethnicity, a certain talent, your gender, et cetera. I’m curious to see what kinds of responses I’ll get!