Beginning with a general overview of the historical roots of slash fan fiction and its theoretical interest to feminist and gender studies scholars, we posit three waves in the relationship between slash and queer culture:

1. Initial woman-centric slash that consciously used male protagonists and male bodies to envision ideal relationships and fantasise about sexual experimentation, often within deeply committed romantic relationships.

2. A politically self-aware movement towards realism that confronted these fantasy men not only with the realities of male bodies and sexualities, but also with the cultural realities of gay lives.

3. Slash fiction that is deeply embedded within a self-defined queer space, neither fantastically creating nor idealising yet othering gay men, but rather writing multiple genders and sexualities as both reflections and fantasies of the complexly diverse community of readers and writers.

Busse, K. and Lothian, A. (2018). “A history of slash sexualities: Debating queer sex, gay politics and media fan cultures”. In Smith, C., Attwood, F. and McNair, B. (Eds.) The Routledge Companion to Media, Sex and Sexuality. Oxon: Routledge.

This is a really neat essay that returns to and updates for the 21st century what I jokingly refer to as the Foundational Question of Fan Studies: why do straight women write about men banging? The breakdown into the three waves is a useful structure both for those who’ve been kicking around slash fandom forever and for those of us who joined somewhere along the way. Busse and Lothian back up their analysis with a range of examples of fan fiction from all three waves, and “which of these have I read” is a fun game to play with this essay.

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