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Editorial: Fandom and Sexuality

Welcome to the fascinating multi-faceted universe of Fandom and Sexuality! Hallyu, Bollywood, Fan-fic, Furries … Before we jump right in, let’s quickly consider what the word ‘Fandom’ means. Fandom refers to being a fan of someone or something and also, increasingly, a community of people who share a common interest that unites them in feelings ranging from an easy camaraderie to a great fervour. Members of a fandom are not just passive consumers but active co-creators who imagine and build new worlds around their objects of adoration using words, art, memes, and other forms of expression. Fandom communities offer fans the freedom of being able to imagine, create and share all sorts of scenarios, including romantic, erotic and sexual ones.

Sadhana Chathurvedula and Nirupama V, in a deeply informative interview with Shikha Aleya talk about the fan experience as they themselves have lived it, their engagement with Hallyu – the so-called ‘Korean wave’ of pop music and dramas – that is sweeping the world, fandom being “a playground where people can engage with their sexuality in a way that they cannot elsewhere”, and fandom’s potential to overpower existing prejudices.

From Korean pop we move closer home. Using iconic films like Guddi and Om Shanti Om, amongst others, Ulka Anjaria insightfully unpacks the queerness of fandom in Bollywood to reveal fandom’s sexually subversive and transgressive nature. It is precisely this possibility of subversion and freedom that fandom offers that makes it so attractive, especially to many young people across the world. Rohini Banerjee reviews Fangirl, possibly the first mainstream novel depicting fandom. Written in 2013, it became an instant hit, especially with young people, but now with conversations about fandom becoming more nuanced, Rohini tells us why Fangirl gets everything wrong about fandom.

At 14, Saswati Chatterjee wrote and posted her first fanfiction online and became part of a group of writers who shared and responded to each other’s stories. Later, she became part of other fandoms. She tells us, “Fandoms are defined by this: the joy of the sharing of art and storytelling among communities…Fandoms really are about love…”

Fandoms may be about love, but some of them seem to attract hate. Among the many fandoms there are, one that is commonly misunderstood is the Furry fandom. Furries are people who are interested in anthropomorphic animals. People in the Furry community may create art, have a fursona, dress up in fursuits, go to furry conventions, or do none of this and still enjoy being a Furry. Because people exaggerate the sexual aspect of being a Furry, the Furry community is much maligned. Read this beautifully executed comic about what it really means to be a Furry and then watch this video about Furry Secrets Uncovered to get more of the real story. And then, in the Did you Know Corner, read The Subversive Sexual Power found in Erotic Fandom Forums about how one can write one’s own sexual script/s and find power and agency.

In our mid-month issue, when speaking of Fandom and Sexuality, can Hallyu be far behind? It seems not. Chitrangi Kakoti writes about her enthrallment with the so-called Korean wave and “the wondrous feeling of love, desire, fantastical escapism…” that being part of online Hallyu communities gave her, and offers us an analysis of what makes K-dramas so appealing.

Sports offer another sort of drama to their fans, but be it in a stadium or in online fandoms, stereotyped ideas about who a ‘real fan’ is abound. Rituparna Patgiri and Ritwika Patgiri reflect on how ideas of gender and sexuality play out in sports fandoms, and how women find ways to enjoy sports (and their desire for sports stars).

In our curated Blogrolls section, we have a colourful guide to queer anime and an article on how queer fanfiction is changing narratives in pop culture.

Stay well, Stay strong, Keep dreaming!

Cover Image: Unsplash

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TARSHI supports and enables people's control and agency over their sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing through information dissemination, knowledge and perspective building within a human rights framework.