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Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006, 03:13 am
oyster_district: Fanonymity

I've decided to coin a new term--and I will be very happy, if and when it winds up in the fandom dictionaries--fanonymity.*

Basically, I was thinking about the Wall Street Journal article, and wondering how important it is for fans to keep their "real life" friends and family out of their fandom lives.  Conversely, obscurity might be paramount when participating in fandom online. There are very real reasons for not letting others know things like one's address or phone number. How important is the average fan's (here it comes) fanonymity? And why?

For example, I find nothing shameful in reading or writing fanfic, and do both often. I've met some lovely people through fandom. In fact, I met my husband through fandom. However, if my in-laws were ever to learn about some of my fan activities, I might find it a little bit difficult to look them in the eye. Perhaps this is because fandom is subversive in so many ways--although it effectively advertises the franchises in question, it does so in a thoroughly non-commercial way, and it asks creative and administrative talent without offering pay in return. It's pleasure for pleasure's sake. And that's not to mention slash.

Actually, let's do mention slash--but only because when I think about bringing up fandom in "real life" conversation, I often feel as though I'll be "outed." As though my fandom habits will suddenly be "out of the closet." Is there something naturally queer about fandom? Does anyone else feel pressure to remain "fanonymous"?

*If someone else has already used this expression, I do apologise.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 07:16 am (UTC)

Well, I'm fanonymous partly because I don't think my husband could cope with me being a slash writer, and partly because I write litfic, and literary critics are totally mole-eyed about "derivative" or "genre" work. I can do without the flak.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 07:25 am (UTC)

I'm not at all, which seems to be different than most I know. My housemates know what I write, sometimes ask about how my guys are doing; my comic friends who aren't slashers sometimes tease me about it, but it's hardly a secret.

Conversely, I occasionally link back to my real life journal from my fangirl journal. I've been told that people who read my work also find it interesting to read about the author's life surrounding it, in a few cases of people who read both; or just want to.

But I understand why people might not want to have it known to friends outside the fandom; occasionally I'll get fairly appalled reactions when people ask me what I'm writing. Mostly just because it's slash; the fanfiction aspect itself, not so much. I can definitely see not wanting that particular grief.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 07:28 am (UTC)

I've always used pen names for my fannish writing - going back way, way before the advent of computers - which means that if you Google my real name, you get very little, and none of it in any way incriminating.

A friend of mine has a high-ranking Government job; another works for the police; another is with the diplomatic service. In all of their cases, it might be embarrassing if someone were to trawl the web and find their (respective) Hercules/Iolaus slash; yaoi fixation; and Viggo Mortensen/Orlando Bloom RPS.

Though it depends who found it, I suppose.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 08:03 am (UTC)

I think there is a closet depending on who you are, some people can do it easily based on who they are as a person at that point in their life and others cant. And others cant because of job related reasons and stuff like that which can be similar (dont ask/dont tell in the military for example). Slash makes it even more closeted and queer and harder to admit to certain segments of the population.

I don't usually tell many people just because a lot of people don't understand or have negative perceptions of fans and I don't want to have to deal with it. That being said, if someone I knew took the time, they could find out about all my fandom life. I figure if they care that much about it then I don't mind if they find out and even if it was accidental, I don't feel like being paranoid so I just let it be. I don't think its that big of a deal, I just don't bother to tell people about it.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 08:03 am (UTC)

I do cherish my fanonymity (great coining, BTW!)...truth is, if it all came out, the humiliating factor is far more the 'fannishness' than the 'm/m smut' aspect. I'm a pro writer (nonfiction) IRL, and I work at a publication that prides itself on being lefty and progressive and running Dan Savage's column, so porn is not the problem. When I have a blush moment at work, it involves the fact that I can make and get D&D and Balrog-wing jokes.

Not to mention the fact that I've been spending so much energy doing writing that can, by definition, financially benefit neither me nor the business I am contracted to (which is what I fucking love about fanfic so much; it's what helped me enjoy writing for its own sake again, which is no small thing.)

Almost by definition, a real friend is someone I can trust with the keys to all my identities. And almost by definition, this is a very small and selective number of people.

(My mom read and liked some of my Snape/Hermione stuff, BTW. Other fandoms I don't bother her with because she doesn't know the characters, which is the most important thing. My dad isn't into it at all. Only recently have I found out my little cousin--4 years younger than me so I think of her as 'little' still although she's 33--has been writing Star Wars fic for 15 years!)

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 08:07 am (UTC)

For me, a lot of it is about being a very private person. A few people close to me know of my fandom interests, but only 3 actually know the extent to which I'm involved. I'm pretty lucky in not having it be a real issue in my life in regards to my job or whatever.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 10:13 am (UTC)

What a great term! I think it aptly descibes how so many people use nom de plumes in the fan-ficverse, but also how many of us do not even tell friends and colleagues that we write fan-fic.

I was not all that concerned with fanonymity when I first started writing, so there is some Xena slash out there with my "real" name on it. Now that I am in graduate school and teaching college classes, I worry that some student will "google" my name and discover things I wrote 5-8 years ago...I am seriously hoping it does not come back to haunt me. (I have an unusual name *and* my thesis work is about feminism and science-fiction/fantasy television, so I don't think my students will have trouble connecting the dots).

When I write now, I definitely use an alias and try to keep my "real life" separate from my "fan life". I don't think I mind them reading my non-slash fiction, though.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 10:17 am (UTC)

I have always been completely open about my fannish activities with my freinds, family and colleagues. However, the WSJ proposition is IMHOP a step too far - there is a big difference between being open with your employers about what you get up to in your spare time and putting them in a position of potential embarassment by having it splashed all over the media.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 12:41 pm (UTC)

Fandom is such a huge, important part of my life and my identity that I refuse to be embarrassed by it. On my third date with my current boyfriend, I told him I write gay porn; I backtracked a bit and tried to explain the concepts of fandom, fanfic, and slash, but he still has very little concept. He just thinks it's another bizarre quirk of mine, akin to my love of scifi/fantasy (which he also doesn't get). But since it's important to me, I would never really want to be in a close relationship with someone who'd make me feel ashamed of myself for it.

That said, I do write under a penname; people who want my real name can probably figure it out, but I don't splash it all over. (Potential employers, etc, might not understand; and while I don't want to be in a fannish closet, I don't think work overlaps with it too well.) But luckily, my name is ridiculously generic and even if you search for my name and fanfic (or slash) it doesn't come up until the third or fourth page on Google. Phew.

I guess that's having my cake and eating it, too...

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 12:47 pm (UTC)

I guess I'm sorta 'casually anonymous'. My husband knows I write, read, and roleplay slash, and he even betas some of my writing. My friends know, and one co-worker knows.

My dad would simply find it amusing, my mother would be shocked and appalled, and my brother would be relieved not to be the black sheep in the family.

I keep my writings in a separate journal that family isn't aware of, or in my RPG games. My personal lj is fully locked, and really, my husband is the only family member on my friends list.

If someone stumbled on my writing, I'd probably be more worried that they didn't think it was good than I would about the slash content, overall!

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 01:39 pm (UTC)

I've been trying to decide if I can go into fanonymity. When I was in college, I didn't really care who knew my name. Now that I'm in grad school, I'm realizing that students and professors and professional astronomers can Google me and my fan stuff will pop up. I'm none too concerned about some of it (space art and conlanging), but the fannishness raises the copyright issues.

((The crux of the issue is that I have an Elfwood gallery with a fanquarter section, which requires a name. And, yes, I'm honest enough that I wouldn't adopt a psuedonym unless the site permitted it.))

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 01:53 pm (UTC)

Back in high school when I first started reading fanfic (and slash), I was very concerned about people finding out about it, because high school is high school, and I was trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible. I did tell my parents sometime during my senior year (my dad was amused, and my mother just didn't get it), and it's been one of my better moves. I have a friend who hasn't told her parents, so all our conversations at her house are kinda hush-hush.

In college I decided that anyone who wouldn't accept that part of me didn't need to be my friend, which was also a good move.

Now I'm out in the working world, in a male-dominated workplace (game development), and one of my friends from college works there, and I'm always terrified he's going to say something, because I really don't want my co-workers to know about it. I don't know if that means I've come full circle or if I'm just protecting my career, or even if once I've been working there a little longer I'll be fine with them knowing. Some of my fandoms have already been 'outed' to them (they know that I like certain series and that I'll recreate their characters in The Sims), but they don't know about the slash aspect yet, and I'm not sure how they would take it.

(I love the word, btw - I'll try to pimp it wherever possible. :D)

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 02:32 pm (UTC)

You might find this post about slashers and closets, and the threads that follow below it, interesting:

(Deleted comment)

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC)

Huh. I guess I technically am fanonymous, but not because I'm concerned with anyone finding out I write fic or play in fandom. I'm just... cynical. From day one I've worked, played, written under a nom de plume. I give out my real info only when absolutely necessary.

Wait... does that make me a sockpuppet? *snort*

No, I do not pretend to be someone I am not, I just, as a general rule, don't trust anything or anyone on the 'net. Safer that way, thank you very much.

Wed, Aug. 30th, 2006 04:12 pm (UTC)

My friends and I are all huge geeks, so most of us talk about fandom or are at least pretty frank about it. I would't want my parents or random people I meet to know that I read Batman gay porn, though... that would be awkward.