In an effort to build a space for queer people like myself, every Sunday (or when I’m feeling spicy) I’ll be posting interviews, opinion pieces, listicles, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community from a Latina perspective. Welcome to Queerly Not Straight! Enjoy and leave a comment below if you have a suggestion for what I should cover next.
P.S. I, Lyra Hale, do not give any site permission to copy or repost my work in any form. If you are reading this on any site besides Fangirlish, it has been stolen.
I read fanfiction every day. Not just any fanfiction. Non-canon LGBTQ+ ships are my bread and butter when I’m not crying over the queer shows that have been canceled this week. And I devour these fanfics because these writers, who spend hours crafting elaborate stories based on our favorite ships that didn’t set sail, see what I see and understand that there is a romantic connection between these two characters with a side of queerbaiting to get our community to watch. And the only reason why it isn’t canon is oftentimes because of the heteronormative gaze.
Also known as heteronormativity, it’s basically the concept of looking at the world through a heterosexual lens. This includes the kind of relationships that you automatically assume are going to happen when you’re watching a TV show or movie and the gender roles that you would prescribe to certain characters because of their gender and nothing else. And it creates a social hierarchy where being heterosexual is the norm or “the standard.” Everything else is under “other” according to heteronormativity. And Hollywood and our society continue to perpetuate heterosexual as the norm as a way of not rocking the boat with those against the LGBTQ+ community cuz money but also as a means of oppression.
That’s where non-canon LGBTQ+ ships come in.
Ships like Supercorp, Finnpoe, Swanqueen, Sterek, Merthur, and Rizzles happen because viewers see a spark that the heteronormative gaze ignores and quite often tells us isn’t “actually” there. This spark is absolutely there because the actors or characters have chemistry. But it’s also there because LGBTQ+ viewers see themselves or their experiences within these two characters in question in the same manner that heterosexual people understand the tension and spark between a hetero couple that media drops clues for in its setup of said couple. Furthermore, it feels like something familiar to LGBTQ+ viewers that they can have or that they hope they have one day. So no wonder they latch on and hope against hope that the TV show or movie that they’re watching will acknowledge this bond and in turn validate LGBTQ+ people’s experiences.
When TV shows or movies predictably ignore the spark between the LGBTQ+ ship in question or act like it wasn’t there in the first place, we don’t take it lightly. We shouldn’t anyway. We saw a spark. We didn’t imagine it. We saw it in them because we see it in ourselves and the community that surrounds us. And the fact that those within the fandom or actually part of the show push back and tell us that we are imagining things, makes us push more. Not because we’re being contrary. But because it feels like someone is denying our experiences and making us question whether we saw that spark in the first place. And that feeling hurts and makes us feel like we don’t belong and we don’t get to have what heterosexual couples get in TV shows and movies.
What follows is fanfiction.
Fanfiction is a form of liberation and exploration. It is where relationships that were seldom explored are given life. But more importantly, it’s a place for community where LGBTQ+ people can tell the stories that they identify with and that they would love to see in the content they consume. Within this exploration you see what could have been, what should’ve been, and how it should have happened. And in a way, fanfiction for non-canon LGBTQ+ ships feels like validation the TV shows or movies in question never gave us. Within that feeling is acknowledgment of our experiences and the simple truth that there is nothing wrong with the way that we live or love and that we belong.
That’s why I appreciate fanfiction so much and get so up in arms when people talk shit about it. Within fanfiction, I have been broken to bits by fanfics that have made me self-reflect on my own mental health. There have been moments where I have cried my eyes out at the depth and emotion of the connection between these characters. And I’ve even come to accept the amazing power of the family that you choose. When it comes to non-canon LGBTQ+ ships, I have also learned about different people within my community, the things that they want to see in their lives, and how much effort and creativity is within writers, especially those who say that English isn’t their first language. You know who you are and we love you.
The point is, fanfiction for non-canon LGBTQ+ ships isn’t going away. I would expect it to never go away, especially with the startling drop of LGBTQ+ characters within our TV shows or movies. And that’s including the ones that have been canceled after one season or two aka Warrior Nun, First Kill, A League of Their Own, and so many more. And if you’ve gotten this far and you still don’t understand why people ship that non-canon LGBTQ+ couple or that other couple, it’s time to self-reflect. Why are you so vehemently against this couple, the spark between them, or that people see potential between them? Be honest with yourself and confront your own biases and the heteronormative gaze that you maybe have never even thought about before.
Once you’re done with that, come on over and explore some of the non-canon LGBTQ+ ships out there. (Currently, I’m obsessed with Royjamie from Ted Lasso and a whole range of other non-canon LGBTQ+ ships.) And because fanfic writers are the champions of the non-canon community, make sure to leave kudos and a comment to show your love. Because they are the ones that help in the fight to validate our experiences, tell the stories we wish we would have seen on screen, and bring to life things we want in our own world or things we’ve never even thought about or explored within ourselves. That deserves to be celebrated.
What are your favorite non-canon LGBTQ+ ships? What fics are you reading? Let us know in the comments below!
Queerly Not Straight posts every Sunday with opinion pieces, listicals, reviews, and more focused on the LGBT community (and occasionally about the Latinx community since I am Latinx.)