Creating Your Own Spot

Fanfiction is the name given to works of literature that are derivatives of other works or concepts that are not a part of the canonical universe of the original. It can range from very short stories to works that have lengths much longer than the original work itself. A tool that is employed in most fanfictions is “shipping” where the author places two characters that are not in a canonical relationship into a relationship in the fanfiction. One way that fanfiction has been used is as a tool to create queer narratives in a universe where there may have not been an explicit queer narrative to begin with. Many works include characters that are queer coded, and are described in ways that are almost explicitly queer, but the author of the source material never confirms, and leaves the reader hanging. This act of carving out a storyline that was not initially there just to be able to see the storylines of people who are similar to you shows a deep aspect of why it is so necessary to include queer representation. If this representation was not necessary, it would be hard to believe that people would produce these works, some of which are longer than the source material itself, just to be able to see stories of people like them.

We can see a connection to The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor, particularly in the Authors Note and the final pages of the book. When Mei talks about going to form her own story (Khor, 282), implying that there are many more adventures to be had beyond the confines of her book, it is the exact concept that these fanfiction authors latch onto, that just because you have hit the final pages doesn’t mean that the characters cease to exist, that their stories must end. Where one story ends is just an opportunity for another story to begin, and when the initial author isn’t there to represent marginalized communities, in some cases fans of the work create representation that was not originally there. This connects to the Authors Note at the end of the book, particularly when Khor discusses making the story of a young Chinese American girl (Khor, 285). This is not unlike the how fanfiction creators will sometimes use their works as a tool to create more representation in the universes they love so dearly, so they can see a character just like them, and finding how in creating that little corner of the universes of their favorite works. 

6 thoughts on “Creating Your Own Spot”

  1. I love how you connected the creation of fanfiction to lack of queer representation because you’re absolutely right. A lot of fanfiction creates queer relationships that are not in the original storyline, and I completely agree that fanfiction authors creating this clear representation highlights the fact that there is no queer representation in the original story. I see the connection that you were making to Mei creating her own story, but I think I see more of a connection to Saeed Jones and his use of third person. A lot of fanfictions can be written as self inserts, where you are in the story, but I think the fanfictions that you’re referring to are the ones where the author takes two characters from the storyline and creates a romantic interest between the two. I relate this to Jones’ use of the third person because the two characters in the relationship do not involve you and also because the author is creating a world completely separate from the original storyline.

  2. Ya know I never have thought very critically about fanfiction or its place in queer culture but you are absolutely right. The idea of the insertion or creation of queer narratives into hetero stories is how I was first made aware of fanfiction. I distinctly remember being in middle school and one of my acquaintances was talking about one of the many Harry Potter fanfictions they were reading at the time, in all of which Harry and Draco were in love. I have never really taken fanfic seriously but what it does reflect is the serious need felt by queer people to have representation in popular media. This need for representation I think is why many queer people decide to create, as a way to reach out to younger queers and their younger selves to provide representation for the younger queer generation, the representation they may have never seen or had. It reminds me of one of our first readings which discussed the importance of queer literature as queer children are often separated from queer adults, so its a way to connect over that barrier created by heteronormative society.

  3. I like how you connected a common part of internet fandom culture to the larger issues of Queer representation. The connections between the process of writing fanfiction and Khor’s writing process that you are point out as especially interesting. By doing so, you point out an aspect of writing in general that makes it easier to bring representations in spaces or stories lacking it. The use of writing as a way of seeing yourself and creating space for people like you, always reminds of me of Gloria Anzeldua’s short essay in ” This Bridge Called My Back.” especially as she points writing out as a way of empowerment.

  4. I am so glad you brought up this point because fanfiction really has been such an important mode to create queer spaces and queer representation. We also saw this changing of the told story to make it your own during the scene in The Legend of Auntie Po where Henry sees Auntie Po according to his own story in the way he wants her to be represented, which is not only different from Paul Bunyon, but different from Mei.

  5. I really like your point regarding how a lot of fanfiction creates space for queerness into otherwise un-queer narratives, and that this allows for more general queer representation. I think the accessibility of fanfiction is really unique — it takes pre-existing, pre-loved content and extends it in a million different ways. Because people generally read fanfiction for groups or shows or movies (or any entertainment really) that they already know and love, it makes more difficult content like queerness (difficult for some people) easier to empathize with. I think this is especially important for younger queer people. WAY before I could even conceptualize my own sexuality, I was inexplicably drawn to a gay ship from one of my favorite bands in middle school. Though I didn’t realize this affinity for two gay men was due to the fact that it was the first time I had seen expanded and detailed queer rhetoric, I now can tell that it was hugely formative to see queerness represented by people I already really respected and enjoyed.

  6. Thank you for pointing out the importance of queer representation in fan fiction. Before I read your post I was not aware of its importance because I never look at it from a critical point of view. I believe that you point out a significance aspect by explain how fan fiction creators use that tool to spread more queer representation in the world. That reminds me of Jones who is, in the beginning, telling other people’s stories in his poems in order to spread awareness and give them a voice instead of sharing his own experiences.

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