As we know, there’s not a lot of queer representation in mass-consumed media. When there is, it’s usually shows like MTV’s Faking It, the plot of which hinges on two high school girls who are perceived as lesbians—they aren’t, but they’ve grown so popular because of the misconception. (They’re also white, thin, cisgender, able-bodied and conform to beauty standards.) This goes on while there are LGBTQIA+ youth are being harassed, assaulted, and even murdered. Needless to say, this isn’t the kind of representation we need.

When I look at a TV show, or movie, and have a complained about lack of diversity or improper (or problematic, in the case of Faking It and other shows) representation, it’s misread, too, as me just being ‘PC.’ (‘Politically Correct,’ and what someone actually means when they say it, is discussed by Julia Sereno, and I super recommend a read.) ‘Political Correctness’ isn’t looking at a media platform and saying “well, this needs to have X amount more of X demographics, and then it’ll be okay.” It’s me looking at a media platform and thinking “Why don’t I exist? Why don’t my friends exist? Is there something wrong with us that we don’t deserve representation?”

Fandoms can be a great escape. We’ve all ran across some FanFiction that are absurd, or silly, or offensive, or poorly written, and so on; they’re something anyone can find a flaw in if they look. Heck, going back and looking at Avenged Sevenfold fanfics I wrote when I was sixteen with my ex-girlfriend I was hovering somewhere between fits of uncontrollable giggles and blushing. Like, blushing really hard. Not just because I’m a writer and I find looking at old work is frustrating and embarrassing; rather, because we wrote a hell of a lot of smut. Yaoi, to be specific. Looking back, though, that was a time in my life where I didn’t really know any people who shared my own sexuality—my family was (and still is) anti-Queer, and the people around me didn’t really talk about, you know, that. I used writing as an outlet. It was different, though, from my now-norm of poetry and short stories.

Fanfiction, if you are unfamiliar with the definition, is taking a show, or a band, or a book, or a comic, or YouTube shorts—anything, really—and writing your own stories about them. It’s laughable at times, yes, but it’s also therapeutic. How is it therapeutic, you may be asking? I was taking something I already knew and loved (Avenged Sevenfold), and mixing it with my own reality (Queer-ness). My fanfics hinged on A7X being openly Queer. That’s not necessarily the case (though lots and lots of people headcanon Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance as a couple), but it can be made it the case; as previously stated, not a lot of cultural icons are Queer, and those are the people who are supposed to be some sort of a diverse representation of society as a whole. When we don’t see ourselves, it feels like we don’t exist. No representation is a form of erasure that can sometimes be more frustrating than misrepresentations of oppressed demographics because we are being erased with silence—like it’s not even worth making an attempt at recognizing oppressed demographics.

I don’t write fanfiction anymore, and I certainly don’t post it on Quizilla for the world to read like my ex-girlfriend and used to. Headcanons are more of my thing. Headcanons are reading a character who is not written as part of an oppressed demographic as part of that demographic. To use a friend’s example, Pinkie Pie, a character on My Little Pony, could totally be autistic. She isn’t written into the script as autistic, but she totally could be. Another example is, I love the show The Librarians and I headcanon Jacob Stone as having an anxiety disorder (and perhaps a mild form of PTSD due to the way he describes his past). Both severe anxiety disorder and PTSD are part of my own reality, and seeing it on a screen feels kind of validating, even if the character isn’t canonized in the script as these things. In this way, it’s similar to fanfiction, just without the writing part.

Even though I’ve personally grown out of writing fanfics, it was empowering at that point in my life. The Queer sex scenes, I admit, may have been a little excessive.