OK so, everybody reading this knows my RL has been full of upheaval this past year and I am frankly sick of talking about it for the moment.
Fandom is my happy place and a huge source of restoration and rejuvenation for me. I'd be much
less capable of weathering storms without it.
This year, I went to 221B Con for the first time - yeah, yeah, late to the party but believe me, there were reasons. Some had to do with terrible things that happened to friends of mine there, some had to do with conflicting work schedule (which isn't an issue when the Con happens the first
weekend of April. If it's the second, no can do. Thankfully, it's the first weekend next year too, so Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, I'll do it again.)
I had a wonderful time - got to spend time with friends I only ever see at con, got to put some beautiful faces to some beloved internet names, felt wholly welcomed and like I was among my people. I was on four panels - AUs, Occult Detectives, Polyshipping, and the late-night fanfiction panel.
I will say that I am grateful to Sherlock S4 for this: It seems like most of the most toxic elements in the fandom flounced the fuck out, leaving what remains a much friendlier and happier place.
The toxicity at this con largely came from a different source: good old-fashioned homophobia, sexual harassment, and male entitlement. A traditional old-school cishet male Sherlockian took advantage of the desire of queer/feminist new-school Sherlockians to connect and be heard and understood, to be an absolute gross creeper. He claimed to want to understand what we do and we why do it, and he lied about truly wanting to learn. He smiled in the face of queer fans while writing vile homophobic and insulting things on Twitter (like he thought people wouldn't see it? what?)n He only wanted a voyeuristic window into our sexual inner lives, and to receive attention and emotional labor while violating boundaries left and right.
(I shouldn't even have to say #NotAllOldMaleSherlockians, but just in case, here's a masterpiece of shade by Brad of Sherlock Peoria: https://sherlockpeoria.blogspot.com/2019/04/baron-gruner-and-his-lust-diary.html
This has got me thinking a lot about who we share our erotic imaginations with, and how, and what the boundaries and rules of that sharing are, and how harmful it is when those subcultural mores are violated.
A victim-blamer would look at this situation and say, "Well what did you expect, with your x-rated fanfiction and fanart and your sexy cosplays and your flirtations with each other?" A non-victim-blamer would say, we get to decide who this is FOR. We get to share our imaginations without lust being projected onto the creator
of the works. (For me, the idea of reading an erotic story and feeling like I have any sexual entitlement/connection to the writer
because of that makes about as much sense as thinking watching porn means I'm gonna want to fuck the cameraman.
) And we flirt and hook up with each other, when that happens, in a sense of equality and common cause.
A sense of being desired in a way I did not wish to be, I won't lie, has been a contributing factor (though not the only one) in a block I'm struggling with. And the block has gone on so long I've started to doubt my worth to my fandom community. What good is a fic writer who isn't writing? At 221B Con, I got a lot of reassurance on that. There was a LOT of appreciation for the contributions I've already made, and a lot of kindness about the nature of the struggle. For that, I can't even express my gratitude.