Logical, alive, and slightly to the left of wicked.

Posted on | September 6, 2017

Foz Meadows has a pretty good post about adults writing fanfic and occupying fan spaces in which they push back against the argument that older people (like me) shouldn’t hang out in “fan spaces” like AO3, Tumblr, or FanFiction, because they’re primarily “young people spaces.”

Says who?

Meadows’s insight, which I believe is absolutely correct, is that this argument exactly mirrors the arguments (still held in some places) that young people shouldn’t be exposed to queers in general, since queerness (unlike straightness) is “about sex” and therefore being queer in young people’s spaces is somehow inherently predatory. Meadows is exactly right that this erases queer history from young people’s lives; all the things we went through in the 1980s and 1990s are elided from young peoples’ lives; they never get stories about surviving AIDS, and about attending the funerals of our friends who didn’t. They don’t know about Queer Nation and ACT UP!

(This seems to be a familiar dynamic in other fan spaces, though. The number of people who describes themselves as “fully committed lifestyle furries” who have no idea what the 1990s furry culture was like is a bit… alarming.)

There’s one thing, though, that I’d like to address. When Meadows writes, “This argument mirrors the argument that queer adults are a corrupting influence on kids,” I’m going to have to plead: guilty.

I started writing my stories as fanfic when I was seventeen. It wasn’t called “fanfic” in 1983, and there were no formalisms, and I was a horny, conflicted, terribly introverted and socially dysfunctional teenager, so they were all awful. It wasn’t until I was 22 or so that I started cleaning them up, tossing all the hand-written ones out and re-writing them as a non-fanfic-oriented erotic serial, and using them primarily as a way to loudly come out of all the closets in which I’d spent my teenage years hiding.

So here’s the thing: I’ve never stopped writing to my seventeen-year-old self. I’ve never stopped writing stories that were meant to say something about who I became and how I got there. And to the extent that I don’t limit who can read my stories, to the extent that I do write stuff rated Mature and Explicit, and post them on FanFiction and AO3, I do so with the full knowledge that not everyone tells the truth about their age, and if what I’ve written “corrupts” even one teenager into realizing his or her journey isn’t nearly as weird or lonely as once believed, I’m more than okay with that. That all those feelings they have can be expressed and enjoyed without trauma, without coercion, and without losing yourself. That emotional intelligence is a skill you need and can learn, but with it you’ll be able to enjoy reaching the age of consent with many of the risks mitigated and managed.

After all, that’s what my seventeen-year-old self really wanted to know.

Comments

Leave a Reply