Lesbian Fanfiction – the Power to Make Things Right

Fanfiction - Clarke and Lexa, TV show The 100

Your fandom ship never sailed. Everyone was treated terribly from beginning to end. Your favorite character died in the most tragic way. But in the past few years, some queer fandoms started to make clear that they would no longer accept the characters who represent their identities to be buried for shock value.

That uproar resulted in countless charity programs to benefit queer youth, unity of the LGBT fans and wide media attention, for example at lgbtfansdeservebetter.com. Last year when Commander Lexa died in The 100, Ylva was one of the many platforms covering the issue of television killing our queer heroines.

But when the dust settles, where does that leave fans of their shows?

When their fandoms are done, there is one expression that keeps them together: We still have fanfiction.

Fanfiction fixes everything

With queer fanfiction, you get not only the happy ending you were deprived of, but every happy outcome imaginable. Deaths never happened. Cancellation will never happen, because after the show ends, the characters belong to the community.

For TV shows it might be a huge thing if they manage to fully surprise the audience with their twists. But as a fan, it is reassuring to be able to look at plot tags up front and to decide to not touch that “major character death” fic with a ten-foot pole. If you want it, the worst villain your ship has to face in a story can be miscommunication.

And yes, after a while it feels like you’ve read everything.

Every queer fanfiction, ever

You know how that fanfic goes: They meet in college where they are most likely roommates. Maybe Person A is a nurse and Person B a police officer. They might fall in love while pretending to already be in love in front of others. Then there are coffee dates, road trips, and replays of original scenes that should have gone differently.

It often takes them months to have their first kiss. Sometimes that happens in the very first sentence and it grows more heated with every word. They might even get married or Person A ends up as president of the country.

You start a story and already know every possible path and outcome. But you still choose to wait and see if being a fake couple will really make them wish to be an actual couple, while a voice in your head calls you a moron.

But why is that? Why do we pick the same tropes for the same couple over and over again? Why do we even decide to read a story in which A and B have been taken out of their original fictional universe and instead of fighting a war, they meet in a coffee shop – when we could just pick a novel about two women falling in love in a coffee shop?

Because we are invested in those characters emotionally. And because for people who love fiction, fanfiction holds incredible power. Many people also first get into fanfiction because it gives us the healthy queer relationships the wider media still doesn’t offer.

Fanfiction as queer solitude

An informal census in 2013 found that only 38 percent of AO3 users identified as heterosexual, and more people identified as genderqueer than as male.

Male-slash fanfiction has always been the monopoly. But the women-loving side is not to be underrated, especially when it comes to content with strong female leads, which fans are always ready to ship, and to fall in love with their loves.

There are more Supergirl fics involving the hero with different female characters than with her actual male love interests.

Emma and Regina on Once Upon A Time together leave their respective boyfriends behind by more than a thousand Swan Queen stories on AO3.

Xena ended years ago and still gets new fanfiction daily, pairing the Warrior Princess with her bard.

Clarke and Lexa get content for not only one, but two different ships: The post-apocalyptic leader duo Clexa, and the zombie-fighting, fan-created power couple, Lexark.

So, why so much explanation about the meaning of fanfiction?

Because there is another advantage of fan-made content to consider.

The fanfiction community is an organism that’s wide awake

It grows with every new piece of pop culture. It’s involved. It needs, wants and demands good content. It’s also evolving.

Even if we talk a lot about coffee and kissing in fanfiction, it is a phenomenon far more complex than that. The best pieces can be just as constructive and insightful as any work of literature. Lots of authors continuously develop their writing skills further and, at the same time, build up a strong and loyal fan base by writing fanfiction.

Likes. Comments. Praise. Critique. Content input. Questions. Even the occasional anger towards your plot choices. Every reaction helps us get a sense of what people enjoy to read. And every reaction shows how much fanfiction readers care.

(Copyright picture above: wanderingclexa.tumblr.com)

Jenny Spanier is a former intern of Ylva Publishing. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature and is currently working on her Master’s degree at a German university. She cares too much about fiction and spends too much time on her tumblr badasscommanderleksa.


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  1. marynelsen October 8, 2017 at 18:17 - Reply

    Fan fiction deserves a bigger spotlight and accolades, for sure. Back in the day, it was the only f/f fiction with a happy ending…

    Not only is it a buoy to us LGBTIA in the ocean of heterosexual representation, it’s FREE, it’s cross-cultural available across the globe, AND it’s often written better than the actual shows the characters are pulled from.

    My eternal gratitude to all fan fiction writers and the asylum they offer.

    • Nautical Dog October 8, 2017 at 20:26 - Reply

      I only (relatively) recently discovered fan fiction, primarily because I just wasn’t ready to let my favorite characters go live their lives without me. I wanted to see possibilities realized and even groundhog day the power of fated love for them, no matter the back story or circumstances surrounding their meeting.
      What I did not expect when I started browsing through AO3 was the incredible level of talent that could be found there. Here are publishable stories by folks that just wanted to create art and give it away. (I also discovered published authors (incl. a Ylva author) on the site, and those authors, too, needed an outlet for their frustration at heteronormative treatment of canon, or shipped, LGBTQ characters.
      I can’t summarize my thoughts better than marynelsen did in her comment, so I’ll just h/t to her and the notion that fan fiction is a buoy in the hetero ocean that we are all swimming in.

  2. Sam October 9, 2017 at 13:39 - Reply

    Fanfiction is my outlet when show writers screw up f/f relationships, shows get cancelled. E.g. Wentworth, Bletchley Circle, Home Fires to name a few. The quality of some of the writing is so good, I regularly tell authors they should write for a living.

    • JayeFL October 22, 2017 at 20:07 - Reply

      I so agree that Bletchley Circle and Home Fires deserved to be continued, and this is from an American who got caught up in these British stories. I delighted in the strong women characters. Was I ever shocked to learned Home Fires had ended on such a cliffhanger. Pity neither show got enough of an audience in Britain For them to continue.

  3. Sami October 9, 2017 at 22:30 - Reply

    LESBIAN FANFICTION – THE POWER TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT – that hits it right spot on plus FF is so much more … asylum for everybody dissapointed in other media formats … pure joy to experience positive gay love stories … a place to feel home. There is so much talent, creatitivy and awesomeness to be found it can only be recommended to everyone in and outside our LGBTQ+ community.

  4. Jenn Matthews October 10, 2017 at 07:13 - Reply

    I wrote fanfic in my teens (Xfiles, ER, Bad Girls, etc) and started again with the #berena pairing about 18 months ago (Holby City (BBC)). That pairing are still together, although things haven’t gone brilliantly for them, Bernie has just gone to join Serena in France, and Serena will be back with us in Feb next year.

    Just because the pairing have continued in the show, hasn’t stopped the FanFiction from reaching over 1000 on ao3. There are numerous AUs throughout space and time as it really gives writers a platform to experiment with 2 strong female characters in love. They’re also of a certain age (circa 1965).

    I’ve read a few of them, although writing my own novel has taken precedence. I still have a werewolf AU (Kelley Armstrong’s ‘Bitten’, anyone) that I need to finish writing. I also have an idea for a story re two characters played by the two actresses previously (ie Cold Blood and Chandler & Co) that I’m getting various likes for on Tumblr.

    It’s a creative escape for people, and sometimes, the stranger the better. It’s not about where these delightful characters are, so long as their together and ultimately happy, I think everyone enjoys reading!

  5. JayeFL October 22, 2017 at 20:16 - Reply

    Although I knew of fanfic, I didn’t go looking for it until after the November U.S. election. I needed an escape and found a positive community of women who create wonderful f/f stories, art, and gifs. I still purchase books, but I like being able to read a short story immediately, although I do subscribe to many with multi-chapters. And, yes, some of the writing is exquisive.

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