What do you do when/if this is the case? Do you try to educate them? Hide your work? Not tell anyone until they get to a certain point in the relationship? Does it feel like you are breeding shame if you do that?
I so desperately need to talk this one out.
Oh man, the eternal struggle. Everybody finds different answers for themselves, but it can be so tough to figure out.
For me…well, I write some really twisted stuff sometimes, so for me it’s not the ‘slash’ part that I think might cause potential problems. My time in slash fandom has actually made me more open and determined about supporting alternative sexualities and demanding respect for them. And I’ve been so lucky in that my education and career has touched on issues of art and transformative work, and digital media and intellectual property. So for me that’s a very professional, respectable thing, and I’m always happy to have those discussions and use what weight I can bring to fandom and fanfiction as a legitmate cultural enterprise.
But that’s not where I was at the beginning; it’s something I’ve grown into. It’s all a matter of where you are in your life. We can’t just go from 0 to shameless. Our brains don’t work like that. Overcoming socialized shame is a learning experience. And while we should constantly be trying to learn and overcome these things, we also have to deal with the reality of having comfort zones. As individuals, we won’t do anybody any good—least of all ourselves—by trying to take on challenges that we don’t yet have the confidence or tools for.
So if you’re having a hard time overcoming a sense of shame at writing slash fic, then by all means work on that within yourself before you take it more public. Decide how you feel. And do some research, because understanding the arguments for and against, and having the tools to defend your position make so much difference—for your own emotional growth as well as others.
There’s also the cold fact that, depending on the people around you and what you do for a career, there can be real, life-affecting consequences for being open about writing slash (or kink, or non-con, or whatever). Not everyone will understand, and if the person who doesn’t understand is your spouse, or your supervisor, life can get hard.
So for me, these days I go on a case by case basis. First of all, this is a personal hobby for me so I figure it has no place at work. Sometimes I will use fandom-related things on my resume, or in a job-related conversation, but I will only choose to do that if I have a conception of how to frame it in a professionally-relevant way. With friends and family, I wait until I have a sense of how the other person is likely to react before I decide whether to tell them or not.
At this point, I’m pretty straightforward about having an online writer’s circle and a wide network of friends and fellowship in my writing hobby (which is exactly what it is; this isn’t a lie, and just because you happen to write fan fiction doesn’t make what you’re doing any less creative writing, or art, or video editing). I have also ceased to bother hiding my general fannishness about my favorite books and shows—and I find pretty much universally that my willingness to geek out brings out the same enthusiastic response in people I talk to. We’re all dorky fans about something, and even if they turn out to be dorky fans about something different, it’s still pretty cool to see people get excited and learn a little bit about what they love.
But there was a time when I just…kept that part of myself to myself except for specifically fannish spaces. And that worked too, at the time; it was what I needed to do to be comfortable then.
You don’t have to pick one technique and stick with it forever. ^_^