Like any good member of the LGBTQA community, I flock to gay and subtext pairings like a fly to honey. I tend to geek out over any pairing that I get excited about. My problem is the lack of people in real life to share this excitement with. Either there’s zero acknowledgement of the couple from my friends, who are all too worried about Aria and Ezra from Pretty Little Liars getting back together—or something of that equivalent—or there’s my dad saying, “They’ve just got to have a gay person,” making it hard to enjoy the beautiful (and often frustrating) stories being told. How can I get my friends interested in more than just the classic hetero couple, and how can I express to my dad that his comments are making me uncomfortable and upset without starting an argument with him, as is known to happen?—Hardcore Shipper
Anna says: Truth be told, Ms. Hardcore Shipper, I had to Google the shit out of your letter because I had no idea what shipping was (or even who Aria and Ezra were) since the cable went out in my cave in 2005. But with the help of the interwebz, and a geek friend, I think we got it sorted out. So, sails away.
For those who are in the dark, shipping has nothing to do with FedEx, but comes from relationship, and is, according to Wikipedia, “the belief that two characters, fictional or non-fictional or real people, would be interesting or believable (or are, or will be, or should be) in a romantic relationship. It is considered a general term for fans’ emotional involvement with the ongoing development of romance in a work of fiction.”
As to where to meet fellow same-sex shippers IRL, author and fellow geek Louise Tripp has this advice:
“It really depends on how obscure her fandom is and where she is located. When it comes to meeting people to geek out over your favorite things with, the best places are probably Meetup groups. If she’s into writing slash fiction (which shippers frequently do), she could look for fanfiction writers groups or sci-fi fantasy meetups. If it’s not a sci-fi/fantasy couple she’s gaga over (she mentioned Pretty Little Liars, so I am assuming she might watch more drama-fueled shows), she could still possibly go to some film and TV meetups, name drop the show and see if anyone around her lights up. That might just be her only option I think only the sci-fi stuff gets a large enough cult following to gather into groups, but those people are bound to be interested in other things. She could, of course, create her own forum online for local people and see who she can draw in, then invite them out for coffee.”
As to your dad, is he making comments sarcastically about gay people on TV? If so, that’s probably rooted in homophobia and may take many, many conversations to sort out (if you even want to go there). If his comments are about your fandom specifically, (and watching TV separately isn’t an option) then I would try a few more times to let him know that his comments are hurtful and to please keep his opinions to himself. I would avoid getting in heated arguments about it, but to be as calm and rational as you can, and if that doesn’t work, to simply not respond to any comments he makes. Don’t even look up or acknowledge he has spoken. Eventually he’ll get a clue and shut up (probably).
AfterEllen readers: Do you have ideas for meeting shippers in the flesh? If so, I’m sure HS and others would appreciate your feedback.