A casual search on the popular fanfiction site Archive Of Our Own will reveal a trend that—while unsurprising to the fandom community—would be somewhat baffling to the casual observer. A search of standardized tags on AO3 indicated that nearly 63% of all the romantic and/or sexual fanfiction published there is classified as male/male (i.e. “slash”), compared to about 30% in the female/male category and a scant 6.6% in the female/female (“femslash”) category. Based on a survey of fanfiction.net, another popular fanfiction website, FFN Research estimates that 78% of fanfiction writers identify as female. Myriad explanations try to account for this: the most popular is that girls just like to fetishize gay men, but some contend that it’s partly an empathetic reaction to media dominated by male characters; others speculate that it is a way for women to write romance while removing objectification from themselves. As other LGG&F writers have speculated, the real explanation is probably a combination of these motives, as well as innumerable others.
As a genderqueer person I’m fairly certain that my own experience with slash fanfiction differs somewhat from the norm. Only recently have I begun reflecting on how formative both writing and reading fanfiction was at a time in my life when I felt isolated and frustrated by my own seemingly incongruous feelings. Knowing now that there are a surprising number of people for whom the gender binary doesn’t hold true, I like to think that for some small portion of the fan community fanfiction has been an important tool for self-discovery, as it was for me.