The AfterEllen.com Huddle: Are you a fangirl?

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Inspired by the release of Sam Maggs‘s The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, we’re asking the question: Do you consider yourself a fangirl? Why or why not?

Daniela Costa: I suppose when you read fanfiction on a daily basis, you’re a fangirl. When you pay for internet access while you’re on vacation so you don’t fall behind on your readings (and so you have something to do at 2 a.m.), you may just be a little too into your favorite shows. So while I’ve never blown up Twitter over a show and I don’t comment on forums anymore (but I do creep them sometimes), I still need that little bit more. Fangirling takes your enjoyment of a show to the next level and, as long as it doesn’t rule your life, I say go for it!

Trish Bendix: I was just thinking the other day how Jennifer Connely in Labyrinth was the first cosplayer I ever knew, and she was definitely a fangirl. I loved that she was so different from most other leading women, and a little nerdy in her playful pursuits. My early fangirl self was really into that movie, and the whole creepy Jim Henson thing that was going in the late ’80s. I was never as into animated stuff, but I could get down with some Fraggle Rock!

I have to say that now I am a fangirl of a different kind. Weird but the things I obsess over and read up on and think about are usually related to dead lesbian writers and lesbian history. Like, even outside of my job at AfterEllen. I know most people that are gay are like, “Being a lesbian doesn’t have anything to do with most things in my life!” but for me, I’m pretty much a lesbian fangirl in that I’m a fangirl of all things lesbian. I geek out over talking with friends or other queer women who share this passion, which doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like. (AKA EVERY DAY.)
 
Grace Chu: While one could label me a Ruth Bader Ginsburg fangirl, I would call being a fervent fan of hers by any person in possession of a uterus to be a normal human response. 
 
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Valerie Anne: I’ve been fangirling about at least one show at any given moment since I first discovered Buffy on April 7, 1997. Currently, Orphan Black is the obvious frontrunner. In the 90s it was all about AOL chatrooms and pages of magazines taped to my wall. Now it’s Twitter and Tumblr and RedBubble fan-made T-shirts. My mother even got me some of those cute little Funko dolls of Cosima, Sarah and Rachel with a pencil in her eye. It’s nice to find a show you love more than you probably should, and then find others who share the same love for the same show. 
 
Erin Wilson: I guess dreaming about being friends with everyone on Empire, wishing Cookie was my mother and buying the sound track to season 1 could possibly make me a fangirl.
 
Chelsea Steiner: For me, being a fangirl is all about being mad passionate for someone or something. My childhood was filled with epic fangirling even before the term existed: namely, I was obsessed with Ghostbusters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And by “was” I mean “is,” as evidenced by my desk which is littered with a LEGO Ecto-1 and multiple Michelangelos. I still keep my Turtle Force Charter Member card on display, because I am a huge fucking nerd. Once I got to college, I majored in Fangirl when I discovered the Whedonverse, namely Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I feel like being a pop culture journalist is the natural extension of my fandom—now I get to geek out about things and get paid for it! Ain’t life grand?
 
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Emily McGaughy: I’m absolutely a fangirl, but not in the way one might expect. Taylor Swift could walk right by me and I probably wouldn’t notice, but meeting Dan Savage last year brought me back to the stuttering I thought I’d outgrown. I obsess over people like Michelangelo Signorile, author, progressive talk radio host, queer activist. I’m actually traveling to Austin next week to meet him and have him sign my book. I’m already practicing what I’ll say to him because, otherwise, I’ll probably just be stunned to silence.  Janet Mock is another writer/activist who brings out my fangirl-ness, not to mention the fact that she’s my celebrity crush. I freaked out when she responded to a Facebook comment of mine. So, I guess I’m a nerdy, writerly, political fangirl.  
 
Elaine Atwell: I don’t identify as a fangirl, but I have a lot of admiration for the people who do. Don’t get me wrong; I love what I love profoundly and obsessively. I once walked out of a dinner date because my girlfriend said that Myka and H.G. didn’t belong together. It was a very long walk home but I relished every step in my righteousness. I sometimes spend more time thinking about stories than about my real life, and I am incredibly lucky to have a job where I am paid to do so.

 
But being a fangirl has always seemed to involve more than that.  There’s a lazy stereotype that fangirling means an adolescent, slavish devotion to texts, but the fangirls I see are constantly demanding new and better narratives and characters. In my own way I try to do the same thing, but I’m not tech savvy enough to make my own tumblr gifs, I’m not committed enough to cosplay, and I’ve never had an urge to write fanfiction.  So rock on, fangirls! Take over the world! I’ll just be over here, cheering you on.
 
Kim Hoffman: Why yes. I am a fangirl. I’m still caught in the stardust of My So-Called Life, because no other character in the history of television will ever get me like Angela Chase. There’s this intersectional fangirling that sprouts from there and dips into MTV/Saturday night culture and beyond. Claire Danes was on the cover of my first-ever copy of Seventeen in 1995. By middle school, I had Romeo + Juliet trading cards of Claire and Leonardo DiCaprio all over my locker door. I can still hum the song sequences on many of the soundtrack CDs I wore out in my Discman: R+J, Clueless, The Craft, Empire Records. I daydreamed up hours and hours of romanticized realities when I put my headphones on.
 
Fangirling meant fantasizing but also, believing this other world was downright achievable. It wasn’t overtly sexual; it was flash imagery, like Leo’s hair lit in the sun with Radiohead playing in the background. It gave me the power to be curious about myself. When my babysitter Courtney was like, “Hey let’s write to Jared Leto, kiss the envelope with lipstick prints, and douse it in perfume,” I said yes because we were talking about Jordan Catalano! I role-played so many scenes from TV and film with my little girlfriends—sometimes playing the guy, sometimes not—but gender wasn’t the focus, it was the squealing over what lines were about to come next. My room was covered in Devon Sawa pinups at one point, too. (I still have every single one.) Devon tweeted me about it once, NBD. Fangirling right now all over again…
 
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Miranda Meyer: So the reason I was afraid to send my draft is that I know I qualify as a fangirl but I sort of hate the word? But I don’t WANT to hate the word because lots of great people use it on themselves and like it just fine, and I can’t pinpoint a reason to hate it that I don’t think isn’t some sort of internalized bullshit. Not strictly internalized misogyny, though; the word “fanboy” makes me cringe only somewhat less, just because it is less likely to be used, when I see it, as coded misogyny. So like if you take the misogyny away there is still a Thing there. (One time when I was telling someone their comment about Black Widow was sexist they assumed I was a guy and made some disparaging comment about “you and your fanboys” to me and I was truly down the rabbit hole, let me tell you.) 

 
I know I am, realistically, a fangirl; but while I am in no way uncomfortable with how fannish I am, I am for whatever reason uncomfortable with being called, or calling myself, or in fact calling anyone, a fangirl (or fanboy). But I feel bad saying that because I feel like it will make other people feel bad. LIFE IS A RICH AND UNCOMFORTABLE TAPESTRY.
 
Dana Piccoli: Come on, I think we all know the answer to this. I owe my career at AfterEllen to the fact that I wrote songs about Pretty Little Liars, people. My first column on the site was called “Notes on a Fandom” and I feel very much connected to the world of fandom and fellow fangirls. I will say that I have had to take a step back now and then in order to be more objective as a writer.
 
Chloë: I wouldn’t call myself a fan girl because although I am a wildly ardent fan of certain people/films/shows, it’s a personal love. I don’t participate in any fan types communities or attend events or follow what’s happening on the Internet. To me fan girl implies a sort of social aspect, but I relish enjoying things on my own. I fangirl over True Detective, Kat Williams stand-up, Game of Thrones, John Cleese, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler. Comedy with the occasional fantasy if I’ve read the books (yeah, I read the GOT books—WHAT.).

 
A couple days ago I saw Amy Poehler in a restaurant and we both ate pasta while I stealthily watched her. That was an intense fangirl moment. 
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Lucy Hallowell: I feel uncomfortable adopting the mantle of fangirl. There are things that I love with passion, stories I return to over and over, movies I have memorized, and characters who have burrowed into my soul. There are authors who make me feel like they are writing just to me and those who have put on paper things for which I have never been able to find words. I think in my advanced age it’s those writers, the ones who have left their mark on me with their words or the ability to seem cooler than I ever will be, who I fawn over most of all. (But inside me lurks a sixteen-year-old who gets a thrill out of seeing Paige McCullers on the screen and who loved South of Nowhere even thought it came a decade later than I needed it.)
 
Eboni Rafus: I don’t consider myself a fan girl either, for the reasons already stated. As much as I love Scandal, Empire, OITNB and others, I haven’t participated in forums, written fan fiction or even shipped a couple hardcore since Dawson’s Creek. I admire those who can devote so much time, energy and passion into their fandom. I guess I’ve just had my heart broken too many times. 
 
Are you a fangirl?

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