I'm afraid I tend to fangirl a lot over various TV shows, celebrities, et cetera, as teenage girls are wont to do. The thing is, a big factor in what/who I'm fangirling over is the... ahem... gay/homoerotic situations/subtext. For example, I am really really into the BBC series Sherlock, which is partially because I got the whole Sherlock Holmes series as a 12th birthday present and read it over and over, but is mostly because it stars Benedict Cumberbatch, who is preternaturally beautiful, and Martin Freeman, who is the cuddliest thing ever, and they spend most of their time flirting very obviously. I know a lot of people really like the show, but I'm afraid I'm taking it to an extreme. I'm afraid I might be fetishizing gay guys, which is kinda weird and squicky.
I don't have any gay friends, at least not out ones, and I really don't want to be treating gay relationships as somehow not real or not like straight ones, because I don't think that's true or right. I'm worried my whole "oh my god those two beautiful men should kiss and be romantic just forever" thing makes me creepy. I have other friends who like the pop culture things I like, and one who admits that one of the reasons she likes Glee is because she's obsessed with Kurt and Blaine and likes to watch them kiss, but I'm generally afraid to talk about my weird fangirly-ness because I'm afraid my attitudes are somehow offensive or would make people not want to talk to me. Am I being weird and wrong, or just a teenage girl with a typical teenage obsession?
Well, okay: let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that you’re being weird.
...Who cares? Because Sparkler, it doesn’t matter if your teenage obsession is typical, or atypical, or full-on lunacy with a side of Totally Nuts. When it comes to what gives you feelings-with-a-capital-F, there is only one rule. And that rule (with the obvious caveats for people under the influence of psychological disorders and/or hallucinogenic drugs) is this:
If it’s in your head, it isn’t wrong.
Because what gets you going—emotionally, sexually, or both—is a matter of taste, not a matter of choice. I mean, think about it: when was the last time you decided to find someone attractive? Never, right? You don’t walk into a room and randomly, intentionally select someone to crush on; you just go about your business until someone steps into your sphere who triggers the random, ungovernable part of your brain that screams “HOTTIE ALERT!” That’s just human nature; we like what we like.
And even if what you like is weird as hell—even if your fondest fantasy is to be tied up by house elves, covered in spiders, and spanked with a ten-foot licorice wand by a butt-naked Professor Snape—it is still what you like. And as long as you don’t harm any actual people in the service of your particular tastes—by doing things that are hurtful, or emotionally manipulative, or illegal—they’re nothing to be ashamed of.
Which is to say that if what you like is to fantasize about Sherlock Holmes and John Watson retiring to 221b Baker Street and giving each other hot oil massages well into the wee hours of the morning, you go right ahead and LIKE IT.
But for the sake of putting your mind at ease, let me ask you: would you be ashamed or worried about offending someone with your feelings if you were a member of a fandom that roots for romance between, say, Lady Mary Crawley and Cousin Matthew? Or The Doctor and Amy Pond? Or (hey, why not!) Lady Mary Crawley and The Doctor?
Of course not, right? And that’s because getting invested in the relationships of fictional characters is par for the pop culture course, and it has nothing to do with the respective genders of the people involved. You don’t ship the Sherlock bromance because it’s OMG TWO DUDES. You ship the Sherlock bromance because it’s two dudes who are OMG PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER.
And this isn’t just a recent thing. Even before the internet made it possible for fans to connect with and feed off each other, passionate readers and viewers have always loved to objectify fictional people and root for their happy endings. Long before anyone had ever heard of the conflict between Team Sparkly Vampire and Team Shirtless Werewolf, there was Orpheus and Euridyce. Rhett and Scarlett. Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Ahab and Moby Dick! And while changing social mores (along with the internet) have obviously done wonders for bringing the homoerotic ‘shipping out in the open, let’s be real: that’s probably always happened, too. (Seriously, how much do you want to bet that somewhere, mouldering in a long-forgotten drawer, is a vintage Gone With the Wind fanfic in which Rhett Butler dominates the milquetoast Ashley Wilkes and turns him into a bonnet-wearing sex slave?)
Which brings me to this: the fact that we’re at a place where we can openly squee over two people who are OMG PERFECT FOR EACH OTHER and who just happen to be OMG BOTH DUDES? This is a good thing. It’s progress. It’s enjoying and obsessing and freaking out over a fictional gay relationship in exactly the same way as we’ve been doing forever with fictional straight ones. And the reason we do that is not because these relationships aren’t right, or true, or real. It’s because we feel so emotionally connected with them that they might as well be. Which is not just a beautiful thing, but the reason why we keep reading and watching and losing ourselves in fictional worlds.
...But enough about that: isn’t it time to go re-watch Sherlock again?
Are you totally invested in the romantic lives of two fictional characters? Now’s your chance to go crazy in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at email@example.com.
Related post: Why You Should Be Watching BBC's Sherlock Holmes