There’s been some awesome meta about femslash floating around, and it’s made me think more about my own engagement with it, and how much more important it’s been to me than I’ve perhaps realised. I’ve read a lot about how femslash can help young fans come to terms with their queerness, but the truth is, it isn’t just them.
I was late, very late, coming to an acceptance of my own sexuality. Too much internalised homophobia, I guess. I’m still in the process of chipping away at it. But when I had my first inkling that I might be interested in other women, the first thing I did was read femslash.
I was a fanfic reader already - never m/m, always het. I just couldn’t get interested if there wasn’t a woman involved. In retrospect, that might have been my first clue. And so exploring my attraction to women through fan fiction felt natural. It felt safe. I could have read lesbian erotica of course, but there was a comfort in reading this stuff between characters I already knew, characters who’d all been living seemingly straight lives, just like me.
Look, these stories seemed to be saying, it worked out OK for them. It can work out fine for you too. Reading about lesbian relationships between characters I could see on my TV every week normalised them for me, in a way nothing else quite could. It made the desire I’d been so slow to acknowledge seem ordinary.
And, maybe even more importantly, it introduced me to a whole community of people just like me - not only queer women, but geeks, passionate about and playful with the same things I’d always cared about. Intellectually I knew those people existed. I knew what I felt wasn’t wrong and that I wasn’t alone. But femslash helped me to feel as well as know, and for that I’ll always be grateful.