Fandom can be a murky and terrifying place for the uninitiated. It can also be one of the most rewarding and amazing things you can be a part of, if you find the right one. I've dipped my toe into a number of fandoms over the years; my first experience was in 1996, when I stumbled on an email list for the USA show “La Femme Nikita.” A few years later I joined a Yahoo!Group for fans of a book series by Laurell K. Hamilton. And just a couple of years ago I became involved in an online campaign focusing on the BBC series “Torchwood.”
My most recent and intense foray into fandom is for a German soap opera called “Alles Was Zählt.”
I can see that perplexed look you're trying to hide. Don't worry, I'm used to it.
So how in the world did I end up involved in a fandom for a foreign-language soap? Well, it all started with “Queer As Folk.”
Yep, there's that look again.
What I discovered while watching watching QAF (the US version, for those In The Know) was that I got a certain enjoyment out of watching relationships between two men. Not just the sex scenes, but the romances and the friendships as well. Something about watching men be so comfortable with one another on a physical level is very appealing to me. (And yes, the sex scenes are hot.)
I've read a lot of differing opinions on the internets about why it is that straight women enjoy watching gay drama. I've always thought of the sexual aspect as similar to the straight male obsession with lesbian sex. As a friend of mine once put it, it's fun to watch two people you're attracted to smooshed together.
Makes sense to me.
Also, why is “smooshed” not in my spell-check? That's totally a real word.
Anyway, I've also read that for some, it's more fun to take themselves out of identifying with one of the characters and simply enjoy the relationship; others like identifying with a character of the opposite gender. I personally find gay men sexually non-threatening, which can be an important factor.
Whatever your reason or flavor, there is an increasing presence of gay fandoms out there, and the majority of their participants are straight or bisexual women, with a smattering of gay men. I personally identify as bisexual, and am what's known as a fag hag, or a fruit fly, or a homo honey. Here's an explanation from Wiki.
As you may have guessed by now, there is a gay element in AWZ. The show itself is a “typical” (meaning “straight”) show, which started with one gay character who was essentially window dressing. About a year in, the show added another gay character, this one a teenager struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. The resulting coming out story remains one of the most realistic and lovingly acted I've ever seen. The romance that followed between the two gay characters was what sucked me into the show, and the lovely folks who translated and subtitled their storyline in English to be posted on YouTube were what brought me into the fandom.
It's sort of amusing sometimes, how difficult it is to explain fandom (and particularly such an unusual one as this). Those rare occasions I do try enlightening the unaware, I'm generally greeted with the slightly blank smile-and-nod of someone who would like to get out of the conversation as quickly as possible. Since I've long given up getting non-geeks to understand me, this can be an endless source of entertainment.
To check out the gay storyline on “Alles Was Zählt” with English subtitles, visit the EskimoKissProject channel on YouTube.