There are two large back-stories to the wonderfully positive influence of fanfiction in my life, both of which will require long, future posts of their own. For now let’s suffice to say that,
A. My parents were, and are, extremely homophobic, and did their utmost to pass that attitude on to their children.
B. Reading the Harry Potter series was the height of my Great Teenage Rebellion. Perhaps due in part to its forbidden nature I fell head over heels in love with the series.
I first got hooked on fanfiction shortly after the 5th Harry Potter book had been released and I simply could NOT wait for the 6th book to find out what would happen next. I’d stumbled across the fanfiction section on my favorite HP website, and swiftly became enraptured with the imaginings of other fans equally desperate for a fix while they waited.
Once the 6th book came out, I found that fanfiction still had a strong draw, and started to branch out a little in the sorts of stories I read. I knew that slash existed ( 'slash' is a term which refers to same sex pairings within a story... due to the standard facfic practice of listing pairings as two names with a slash between. "Harry/Draco" or "Sherlock/John" for example. All parings, het and otherwise are listed this way, but the word "slash" only refers to same sex couples.) but had no interest in reading any sort of homosexual romance.
And then, the summer after my sophomore year at college, I stumbled across The Shoebox Project.
What started out as an incredibly funny and well-written story about the Marauders’ (Harry’s father and his friends) time at Hogwarts, slipped into slash territory. It did it softly and cunningly, without warning… two boys stumbling into love with each other wasn’t the main point of the story, and nor was it treated in any remarkable manner. It just was. Since I was already hooked by the characters and the aforementioned wonderful writing style, I decided to keep on reading even though Sirius and Remus were now snogging.
After reading The Shoebox Project I figured that other slash stories might be just as entertaining, and could be worth a try. Eventually, I was reading almost nothing BUT slash, and try as I might, I couldn’t find anything that was wrong with it.
These characters were gay, but still normal. They had the same struggles and triumphs as any other characters might, and fell in love the exact same way.
I’d never been around any openly gay people in real life, and these literary versions were my first introduction to the notion that being homosexual didn’t mean anything other than that a person would fall in love with someone of their own gender. Just that simple. It didn’t take long for me to start to wonder why if it wasn’t at all wrong for fictional people to be gay, why was it wrong for people to be gay in reality.
Suddenly, it didn’t make any sense to condemn someone for who they fell in love with…
And slowly, very slowly, I started to wonder if just maybe the draw I felt to other girls might actually mean something.