I attended ClexaCon in 2017 & 2018 as a fan and academic scholar. What struck me was how the otherwise heteronormative places such as the Tropicana Hotel was transformed into a queer place in the week where ClexaCon took place. Having so many queer women & non-binary folks together was something that I'd never seen before or since.
In fan studies femslash fans is generally a largely overlooked group & by characterizing femslash culture, including “The Gay Migration” on Tumblr & events such as ClexaCon I seek to explore how femslash fans differ from slash fans, both in motivation for being in fandom & how they (re)claim spaces online and “offline” in order to create & maintain a community/safe space for queer women.
Drawing on fandom history there hasn't been a fully established 'place' for femslash fans since Xena -The Warrior Princess aired. The lack of attention toward femslash fans could furthermore be due to early fan scholars criticizing the portrayal of female characters in fanfiction & lack of strong female characters in general.
As the pictures in the video indicate, the motivational factors for the fans aren't just to seek & enjoy content, attend conventions etc. because they like a specific genre/show but rather out of starvation to see themselves represented on screen as part of the LGBTQIA community.
Looking at the phenomena "The Gay Migration" I choose to define femslash fans as digital immigrants - with no space online for them, other than together as a group. ClexaCon could then be seen as the physical manifestation of the online community - as fans come together from all over the world, creating a safe-space, discussing queer subjects & migrating yet again together from panel to panel with queer content. If they're indeed digital immigrants then the 'batsignal' at Tropicana's facade could then be seen as claiming of territory - a symbolic action, positioning - where this is no longer *just* a hotel in Las Vegas. ClexaCon's logo & the presence of fans transforms the hotel to a place the fans refer to as a 'safe space' for queer femslash fans. A place where they finally belong.
Reclaiming space through fan pilgrimage
In popular culture and in academia, we often equate (metaphorically and literally) fandom as religion or having a religious feel. I'm thinking of fan conventions as being referred to as high holy days or going to "mecca," or fan tourism as pilgrimage. I feel that there may be a connection between "Gay Migration," fan tourism, and reclamation of space?
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