A history of slash sexualities

Debating queer sex, gay politics and media fan cultures

Authored by: Kristina Busse , Alexis Lothian

The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138777217
eBook ISBN: 9781315168302
Adobe ISBN:


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The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey’s reconfigured Twilight fan fiction has made heterosexual fan fiction a widely recognised cultural phenomenon. In contrast, slash stories about sexual and romantic relationships between same-sex fictional characters (or, frequently, real-world celebrities) have yet to achieve such commercial success. Both within academic fan studies and in popular culture, male/male slash’s existence – from the Marvel Cinematic Universe to One Direction to the success of self-published erotic fiction ebooks – is widely acknowledged and discussed. One point that stands out in many discussions is that male/male fan fiction communities tend to be largely female, and thus distinct in history and membership from writers and readers of original gay male erotic fiction. (Slash about women characters, often called femslash, receives less attention, for reasons Julie Levin Russo (2010) examines in her work on femslash-specific communities and histories.) Though the majority of male/male slash writers have tended to be women who identify themselves as heterosexual, intra-community discussions suggest that there always have been many queer-identified writers, and that this number is increasing. In the absence of quantitative research, the gender and sexuality of slashers remain uncertain and open to debate. Is slash gay? Is it straight? Is it feminist? Is it political? Is it offensive? Is it romance? Is it porn? This chapter explores how male/male slash fan writers have transformed commercial characters and narratives into stories of gay romance, queer desire and even sexual activism.

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