Drowning in queer fandom as self-care
Queer Fandom is self-love, especially in these times of crisis. It can have a calming and soothing effect on you and your skin, make you stop popping your pimples and start looking at your phone. It can take you into another world where you feel connected to all these people that are also fans and therefore make video collages or write fan-fiction or just liked the same meme as you. By Mara Ittel
There is a lot of queer fandom on social media but also in the memories of a queer person and I’m happy to share some with you. Queer fandom is not only about being obsessed with somebody, but about finding all the small subplots and queer undertones in movies, books, shows, songs and being overly excited if you see something where queer and trans people are actually the lead characters, hear about the coming out story of a celebrity (like Lil Nas X) or see all the lesbians in the US women’s national soccer team. (I actually only became a fan of the USWNT right after the world cup, but it was still in time to watch the Instagram stories of their very gay celebration and that’s when I fell in love with football players for the first time)
From my own experience I know most about lesbian fandom, so I will concentrate on that. To me, the essence of lesbian fandom on social media lies in memes. Fan-accounts are where the real magic happens but memes just show a wider kind of fandom. They use our favorite celebrities, animals or food to talk about queer life and capture the feelings of the moment. They celebrate fandom of: plaid shirts, butches, femmes, futches, Birkenstocks, cats, whipped coffee, old lesbian couples, queer archives, dogs or sour dough. Looking at memes helped me with my own coming out and felt a bit like the lesbian high school. Memes made me learn and understand the lesbian language that I assumed everybody knew (now I realized I was a bit overambitious). Memes showed me how I could be a huge fan of a straight actress and find all the queerness in her that I wished for (in the best case she also plays a lot of gay characters like Natasha Lyonne or Cate Blanchett).
Not so long ago I nervously searched for proof that I was already queer when I was a teenager. Sometimes I still worry about this and have thoughts like: “If I didn’t have any queer feelings as a teenager, am I even queer now?” I couldn’t remember having a crush on any of my teachers or friends, and for celebrities I was mostly a fan of Ashton Kutcher and Adam Brody. I still remember how my friends and me found it funny that the word Lesbe (lesbian) rhymed on Wespe (wasp) and every time we saw a wasp we frantically screamed “lesbian, lesbian!” and ran away. That gave me such a bad association with being a lesbian that it was something I definitely did not want to be and having a crush on a woman or a gender nonconforming person, never even crossed my mind.
When I was 15, I got into a relationship with a really nice and caring boyfriend; we watched a lot of movies together (mostly romcoms) while lying in bed and eating cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise and sour cucumbers. One time we watched “Chloe” and I remember I really liked that movie but couldn’t say why. So when I watched it again recently, I found out that it’s a pretty bad movie, but also that the reason why I liked it so much was probably because I just had a deep crush on Chloe (and still have). Throughout most of the movie Chloe, played by Amanda Seyfried, is trying to seduce the woman who hired her to seduce her husband, and keeps looking sexy at the camera with her big round alien eyes and her long blond wavy hair. I think Amanda Seyfried is also the reason why I liked watching “Mamma Mia!”. So there I found it – a half a lifelong fandom crush on Amanda Seyfried that I only fully admitted to myself 13 years later. The discovery gave me the warm feeling of self-love and I can just recommend also digging into your memory and looking for one.
Rosalía is another one of my fan-crushes, but a more recent one. Kylie Jenner is also a big fan of her and one day she was backstage at her concert and posted all of that on Instagram. She also posted this magic picture of them sitting closely next to each other, their legs intertwined (Rosalía wearing this absolutely stunning red Louis Vuitton full bodysuit) and the caption saying “(diamond ring emoji)” and on Rosalía’s account the same picture with the caption “I said yessss(diamond ring emoji)”. Me as a naïve baby dyke (another one of those words I learned in lesbian high school, meaning newly out), I immediately fell for it (and them) and without doing any further research I just assumed they got engaged and was happy about a new queer couple. “Knowing” that Rosalía was gay, I got really into watching all her music videos, felt like getting all the lesbian subtext and was unashamedly crushing on her. A few months later I went back to look at that picture and questioned myself; I realized that in all my excitement I hadn’t noticed how superficial it looked. More like two people who wanted to be friends but also didn’t really know each other and therefore posing almost uncomfortably close, the caption amplifying their will to be friends like a proof to themselves that they are actually friends. I went on googling “Rosalía lesbian” and “Kylie Jenner queer” and “Rosalie and Kylie engaged” (during lesbian high school I realized that googling if celebrities are gay is something lots of us do, I also found out that Wikipedia is not very helpful because a lot of times it just ignores the fact that a person was queer). I found out that Rosalía might be bi but that they definitely did not get engaged. I didn’t want to give up on my crush, but I was sad and felt betrayed.
Sometime later me and my friend showed each other queer music videos and they showed me the Taylor Swift video to “You Need To Calm Down”. It has lots of queer celebs in it and I love that, but the song is a bit annoying. Then I told my friend about Rosalía and the whole drama I made up around her and showed them the video to “Con Altura”. My friend was like “Oooh she’s so young” and then I felt ashamed about being attracted to a person that is way younger than me. But I’m still a fan now, because I just really love Rosalía’s music and her outfits are such and inspiration.
I wish that all queer stars and celebrities would just come out already (if it is possible for them) and not make a secret about it and especially not make jokes about getting married. I want to have a crush on all of them, follow them obsessively on social media and feel connected to the other people that also liked a meme that they were in.
Writing about my fandoms made me aware that I wasn’t a fan of any German celesbians (lesbian celebrity). I remembered that there was this couple (@coupleontour) on TikTok that I always had a love-hate relationship with and every time I saw their videos I wanted to unfollow, but couldn’t get myself to. They are constantly active on Instagram and TikTok and post twice a week on YouTube. They call each other Bubu and seem to have this really romantic relationship and last year they got engaged (and there’s a whole video about how they both planned their wedding proposal on the same day without knowing). In other videos they talk about coming out to their families and about finding a lipstick that works best for kissing each other (generally matte and if you both wear the same brand and color, which they always do). I find the way that they talk overly positive and extremely annoying, but that’s the way Influencers talk nowadays and maybe I’m just too old for it? I do love how they celebrate their queer femininity and coordinate their lipsticks and outfits or do each other’s make-up. I also really appreciate that they talk about their life and struggles. They are probably reaching a pretty wide audience of younger queers and will help some of us out of the closet. At this point I just miss the butches in the German media, I just want to become a fan of a famous German butch.
There is Kerstin Ott, an out and proud lesbian in the Schlager World and she is nice and all, her music is okay and she danced the “male” part in “Let’s Dance” for the first time in herstory. She also wrote a love song to her dog (at least that’s one way to interpret it) and I think that’s really cute. She seems to be the only one out there (besides Hella von Sinnen, although she’s maybe more a futch?) but I’m just not a fan.
Being a fan is like falling in love, you cannot always choose for it to happen but when it happens it can be the best thing in the world. Drowning in fandom can be dangerous, but also pretty fun. Just watch out and take care and always sanitize your phone after being outside.