6. Discovering Slash

This section describes where many people first came across slash and what their initial reaction to it was. Following this will be a presentation and discussion of the results showing what people reported influenced them in their decisions to become readers and writers of slash.

6.1 Place of Discovery

Most people reported that they discovered slash on the Internet. Places such as fan fiction sites, slash sites, message boards, newsgroups, lists, role play games, an author's website, and websites of the movie or an actor were mentioned. There were also some non-web based locations in which slash was discovered such as through academic study, reading books, and reading fan published magazines (zines). Yaoi (Japanese slash) was also mentioned as where some people first discovered slash. Yaoi is available in both printed and online forms. In some cases, people reported that they found slash within their own minds before they discovered it elsewhere.

Fan Fiction sites

Many readers were visiting general fan fiction sites where they then saw slash stories that were also posted.

I first came across slash on http://www.fanfiction.net while surfing for Harry Potter stories. (R46)

I was looking for a new Lord of the Rings fanfiction site, and I suddenly found a slash site by coincidence. (R186)

Slash web sites

Some readers found sites that focused on slash as their first contact with the genre.

Slash was the first fanfiction that I ever came across, so I was very excited to learn that there was a fan universe out there for writers of various genres. The fact that it was slash didn't even make me think twice, to be honest. I was just fascinated that I had never really thought of the world of fanfiction. I loved it right away. (R69)

The Library of Moria. I am a big Tolkien fan. (R212)

I believe my first real introduction came through "Slashing the Angel" (a slash fanfiction site centred around the character of Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer) (R182)

Message boards

A few people mentioned that messages posted to message boards lead them to discover slash.

Well I was drunk and I was sitting in front of my computer, surfing a message board I sometimes visit. Someone had put up a post called "Tolkien is gyrating in his grave", and in the post a link. I happily clicked the link, wondering what this could possibly be about. It took me to a gallery of LotR slash art, basically manipulated photos from the movie, you know, Boromir and Aragorn kissing etc, very tasteful and very beautful, nothing nude or exposing, just touches and light kisses. And that surprised me, that it was so tastefully done. I had for some reason assumed that fan art and fan fiction wasn't that... serious, that it basically was done for a couple of laughs. So, clicking that link basically open up a new world for me. (R176)

Read a message board post recommending a particular story; went and read it. (R227)

At a comedy fanfiction message board for a certain ex-Australian comedy trio. (R230)

News groups and lists

alt.startrek.creative and alt.sex.fetish.startrek newsgroups. (R189)

Somebody posted a link to a pic on a list I was reading. The pic was on a slash site, and in poking around, I came across a couple of the best fics I've ever read. (R190)

Internet role play games

In internet RPGs (R228)

RPing in a Yahoo! club... A friend suggested we should do something different and make one of our characters each gay... so we did and got a reaction and then discovered a whole bunch of people who actually wrote slash fic (R237)

Author's website

There once was a website by a person named Torch who wrote speculative fanfiction about Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles... (R174)

Movie sites or actor sites

I first came across slash when I was looking up information about Lord Of The Rings. (R53)

On an actor fansite. (R137)

Japanese slash animation - yaoi

When I was 15 and just getting into Japanese animation, course then it was yaoi. (R70)

I actually came across "yaoi" which is the Japanese version of slash. I was into anime for awhile, and it is very prominent in that fandom. (R103)

Academic study and books

A couple of people mentioned coming across slash from studying it academically or reading a novel.

If you include original novels, I think the first slash novel I really loved was Ellen Kushner's 'Swordspoint.' (R41)

Spring 2000; I took a class called "TV Theory and Criticism" my junior year of college, and two weeks were devoted to fanfic and slash. (R58)

I've know about slash for years, through some of the academic study of
it, without initially having read any. (R130)

As fan fiction, I first discovered it surfing the Internet. But first exposure to "slashy" fiction was Mary Renalt's "The Persian Boy" read in high school. (R218)

Historical novels, written by women (It was pretty mild and wasn't called slash then). (R225)

In the mid-90s when I read an essay by SF writer Joanna Russ. That was when I really understood it. I'd seen Star Trek slash 'zines at SF conventions in the 1980s, but never picked one up. I thought they were just porn. (R266)


My initial reaction was to laugh out loud as I read the fics in the zine I was given, but I came to love slash very quickly. (R86)

I first read slash when I was a part of a fanzine for a fandom that had gay characters in it, so I didn't know it as slash fiction. Later, after I quit the group, I ran into it again when a friend of mine told me about a slash website. (R148)

Already in mind

A number of people reported that they were already thinking about slash before they knew what it was and discovered it on the Internet or elsewhere.

I wrote a slash fic without even knowing how to label it... it justcame into my perverted mind :-P (R45)

In a weird way. I actually had a dream about slash before I knew it existed. I was back when I was 13, and I never even heard of slash... I had a dream that took place in my house where Garak was standing up against a wall, breathing hard, and Bashir came around the corner with a tricorder like he was going to scan him, and then he kept coming forward, and actually kissed him right up against the wall, and Garak leaned into him, and then I woke up. I for some reason thought I'd look on the internet for these two guys to get pictures of them from the show or something, but when I searched for them together, lo and behold, I stumbled across a multitude of slash sites! Yay! (R90)

By myself: I remember watching a television show when I was about fourteen and thinking, "I wonder what would happen if those two (male) characters fell in love?" Then I got Internet, found my first slash website, and discovered what would happen. (R131)

I actually wrote a slash story without knowing 'slash' was a category. I just thought it would make an interesting thing; unfortunately the fandom wasn't exactly slash friendly. Most of my feedback was 'ewww!!! Gross, next time warn that it's slash!' I went and looked up slash on google, and went "oh." (R172)

I wrote it before I knew it existed on the Internet, but my first exposure was on a general fanfic page that had a slash section. (R195)

6.2 Intention to discover

For some members of the slash community, the decision to find slash was a conscious one. For others, accidental discoveries lead to their involvement in the genre. Others were introduced to slash via friends who already knew about slash.

Discovery by search

I sought it out on the net after finding the first pair of characters I thought were meant for each other. (R9)

I began to notice a wish for Sam to simply reach out and kiss Frodo. I decided to go looking for fanfiction that realized that wish. (R67)

In ff.net there are places where you can pick the two min characters of the fanfics you want to read and one day I thought: "What would it happen if a chose Aragorn and Boromir [eg] and slash showed up and I read it. (R224)

Discovery by accident

This is a very interesting story. I had been writing for years (primarily G pieces) not knowing there was a community. At the end of December I went looking on the internet for more information about the actor who played Haldir in the LotR movies (since back then I wasn't even sure of his name). I typed "haldir lord rings" into the search engine and was taken to the Library of Moria. Innocently I started wandering through the page, being a bit confused by this "slash" term that popped up on the screen but with no clue what it meant. I expected to find the usual fan site that would provide me the actor's name. Instead I encountered Haldir doing... interesting... heh... things with Celeborn (a character I used to hate but whom I have come to adore due to slash). While I was rather shocked initially (the rating on the story was NC-17 and the most I had ever written before was G, keep in mind), it became the pleasant addiction that I nurture today. I guess I felt a bit deviant to start, but very quickly became a big fan. (R10)

The first slash I ever read was Three Musketeers slash. How strange is that, eh? I stumbled across it while reading non-slashy TM fanfiction. I discovered U2 slash (that's my genre) while mulling around fanfiction.net. (R121)

I was off work with flu and was surfing around and found a cache of Starsky and Hutch slash stories and thought 'wow! I wonder what else I can find with movie/tv characters I fancy getting off with each other?'(R124)

Two years ago, I was looking for Quantum Leap fanfiction (and I knew absolutely nothing about slash then) and I just stumbled on a QL slash archive. I was kinda... embarassed at the beginning, but I took a look at a story to see what it was all about, and I was lucky to find a very good story which told about Sam and Al falling in love, and I found myself actually enjoying the story and the idea of them together. I think I read the entire archive in a month ;oD (R133)

Discovery by social network

I read a slash fic about "Weiß Kreuz" a Japanese cartoon which a friend had sent me. (R42)

My best friend introduced it to me in eighth grade, when she learned I wrote fanfics. (R59)

A dear friend of mine asked me to beta a slash piece for her, and I was hooked instantly. (R65)

My friend introduced me to it. She's an anime nut and showed me a couple of fics (once she'd introduced me to anime in the first place) and I decided I quite liked them, then went looking for more myself, then started to write some myself. (R115)

When I was 14 I had felt like reading some fan fic (which my friend had introduced me to a long time before) and she warned me against slash, so naturally I read it (R167)

I'm Bi & I fell in love with the X-men & thought that Wolverine & Cyclops had more chemistry between them. I timidly told a fellow X-men geek what I thought & she found all these sites for me & I've been hooked ever since. It's my new drug. (R191)

6.3 Initial Reaction to Slash

It should be noted that, since the people who responded to the questionnaire are most likely to be those who soon came to enjoy slash, this study does not show those who had negative or neutral reactions to slash that did not eventuate into enjoyment. Such people would not be likely to come across and respond to the questionnaire, therefore that experience is not reported in this study.

The results showed a continuum of initial reactions to slash. These ranged from a strong negative reaction to a strong positive one. For the purpose of analysis and discussion the continuum is presented here as five categories: strong negative, mild negative, neutral, mild positive, and strong positive. It was not always easy to classify initial reaction based on these categories; some reactions fell along the borders of mild to strong, while other reactions included a mix of both positive and negative feelings. Part of the initial reactions also sometimes focused on the relief and joy some people felt at discovering others who had the same thoughts as them. For these people, the discovery of places that contained slash writing was not only a step into a writing genre, but a step into a supportive community. The following sections present quotes that illustrate examples of these initial reactions.

6.3.1 Strong negative reaction

The questionnaire used the word 'disgusted' in the question, thus this may have influenced the choice of words to describe the initial reaction. In addition to disgust, there were other words people used to indicate that their first reaction to slash was negative. Sometimes the negative reaction was not so much toward the slash content, but toward the pairing or fandom the reader came across. For some readers, finding slash at a very young age or having to overcome the initial conflict between the values of their upbringing and those expressed in slash contributed to their initial negative reaction. For some, the negative view of homosexual relationships was countered by the beauty of an early story they read, causing the reaction to change to a more favorable one.

I was disgusted with it, because I believed most of it had no respect whatsoever for canon and just threw any two random men together for a thrill. (Of course, this was when I was in the anime/video game fandoms, where that does indeed sometime happen, especially if the two men concerned "look hot" together.) (R5)

I was disgusted with it at first--I'm a Frodo/Sam slasher so I thought slash undermined the integrity of the relationship by making it physical. I have since changed my mind, obviously. (R44)

My first initial thought when I heard about what it was was "ew, gross." But now I love it. (R51)

Ack! Kirk and Spock doing WHAT? EW! I was disgusted for quite awhile (like two and a half years), until I started reading quality stories that were almost believable. (R58)

Since I'm being raised in a Christian household, I initially was disgusted with the idea and more than slightly homophobic. Then my best friend helped change my opinion to accept slash, and now I embrace it. (R59)

I thought it was just wrong, wrong, wrong. But I think it was just the fandom. Once I'd found a fandom where I thought it made tons of sense, I got into it. I think it just had to make sense to me. (R62)

I had a few moral issues with writing it first off, since it was RPS ... however, I quickly got over it. (R65)

I'd been reading yaoi and really liked it, but the idea of writing things about characters played by real people bothered me for a little while. It just seemed like something that shouldn't be done. I think that was my opinion mostly because I'd never come across fanfiction for 'live action' things at that point, and slash was the first instance I found. (R96)

Well Frodo/Gandalf is still squicky to me. So when I heard about that eww. But I was intrigued by the concept. (R104)

Before I knew what slash was, and was a huge Sailor Moon (ugh) fan, I accidentally went to this website called the Sakura Lemon Archive. I didn't know what a lemon was, either, so I innocently went to a fic, and it turned out to be this really sick one pairing Momoru and Seiya.... That actually put me off slash for a long time.

I was disgusted for a short while until I read a book that had some slash in it and when I ended up rooting for the slash couple in the story, I was very surprised with myself. (R117)

My initial reaction was disgust. Icame across it when I was like...eleven or twelve! All it included was kissing but I thought it was pretty gross. Lol. I kinda avoided it for a while; a year or so. I actually re-read the story later on, and found I liked it. (R141)

The first time I found slash I ran away screaming! I'd only just gotten used to the idea of my favourite characters getting it on (a het coupling) when suddenly all this stuff flew at me! I don't remember why or when but I read it in the end (probably after a while longer at getting used to the idea) - and I loved it. actually, thinking about it, it was probably around the time I was playing around with my sexuality a lot - when I still wasn't quite sure and having a *girlfriend* was still quite scary and unbelievable. (R146)

I was horrified and disgusted. I didn't think slash should be allowed on the Internet and was personally offended by writers "slashing" my favorite characters. Of course, this was before I'd actually read a slash fic. I finally caved and read one, and was hooked immediately! (R160)

I was squicked beyond belief. Only a few weeks later did I come crawling back, looking for more. (R171)

I was searching for a Buffy site and accidentally came across a support group for Xander/Angel. I went away pretty quick, having no idea what that was all about (and pretty grossed out, too). Sometime later I was in Fanfiction.net looking around The Mighty Ducks section and came across a threesome. I read it and was pretty grossed out and disturbed (again). My first real enjoyable slash was a PWP within the Lord of the Rings universe. And now have stuck. Maybe that was because it was tastefully done. Maybe it was because I understand the world a bit better now. Maybe it's the combination of both. I haven't read any slash fiction outside of the Lord of the Rings. (R183)

At first I was like "how twisted. Must be written by gays." but then I started to read one R rated Sam/Frodo fic, and I was forever hooked. (R232)

6.3.2 Mild Negative Reaction

Some people reported being shocked as their initial reaction to slash, and it sometimes resulted in them staying away from the genre for a while before returning. Some people mentioned that they needed a little time to get used to it. Feelings of uncertainty, embarrassment, and confusion were also reported as initial reactions.

I was a bit shocked, but a few weeks later I went back, and got addicted. (R18)

I was a bit surprised, being only about 13 when I first discovered it, knew nearly nothing of boy/boy or girl/girl relationships. I was more surprised just how offended people were by it than the fact it was out there though. (R48)

At first I was a little shocked but I practiced proper netiquette and didn't flame or criticize. I even went as far as to read a story to see what all the fuss was about. It wasn't long after when I realized that I really liked the stuff. (R70)

Shocked as hell the first time, curiosity got the better of me, became guiltily addicted, now am un-guiltily addicted (R74)

I was sort of shocked to discover there was LOTR slash, and opted not to read it at first, but it only took about a month before I went back and had a closer look. :-) (R93)

At first I were shocked but I couldn't get it out of my mind and searched it again. After a really short time I started to like it. (R112)

It was kinda shocking at first. And I thought that it was kind of a mean thing to do with Tolkien's work and with the actors. But, after I read some of them, I got hooked:)) (R114)

Well at first I was a bit iffy with it, because in the Buffy fandom it was mostly with vampires, and that means a lot of BDSM, which isn't really my thing. But I wasn't squicked because it was same sex relationships, just because of the type of story. But a lot of the f/f slash was fluffy and romantic, which I really liked. Then I found LOTR m/m slash and got sucked right into it! (R75)

Getting used to it

I never hated slash, but it took me a while to get used to it. (R56)

I think it took a little while to get used to....I wasn't disgusted really, but when I would try to write my own stuff, I wasn't able to write sex scenes. (R181)

I was never disgusted, but it took me a while to get used to the kissing. ^_~ I first read it because it had cool male bonding moments that "straight" stories don't normally have, and later I got into the romance part. Then again, I was never into any kind of romance, gay or straight, until a few years ago. So I guess that doesn't have to do with the genre, really. (R261)


At first I was unsure of it but never disgusted with it. (R109)

I was unsure to begin with, mostly testing the water, warmed to it after a while. (R210)

Embarrassed /awkward

It made me blush a lot for the first couple weeks but it was intriguing and the embarrassment went away. Then I branched out from there into other genres now it's a full blown hobby? Obsession? I'm not sure but I'm not sure I care I like it and that's all that's important. (R127)

I was not actually disgusted when discovering it, I was just embarrassed, but it was just because of the way everybody talked about homosexuality around me. I'm talkingabout my parents, but about some friends, and the rest of my family. I thought homosexuality was disgusting when I was a child and pre-teenager, but even before reading slash, I finallymade my own opinion (I mean, that it's not disgusting and that it's not my business what people do), and I began to defend it when I heard anybody insulting homosexual or bisexual people. (R133)

No, not disgusted. Awkward, perhaps. Its still something that I'd not go blabbing to my friends. Imagine their reaction if, while watching LOTR, I suddenly blurted, "enough already, Frodo! Shut up and kiss him!" I eventually told my husband I read it, and he still thinks it's gross. I don't. It's very sexy. (R204)

Actually, I was surprised. I think I blushed and went off to read something else, but after like...a couple weeks, I re-read it, and other slash stories and...it just grew on me. (R209)

Complete shock. Read mostly out of curiosity for a while, blushing the whole time, but it quickly grew on me. (R250)

I was never disgusted by slash, but I was apprehensive and shameful about it. My first perception of the slash writing community was that it was a subculture to be hidden and never openly enjoyed. In my head, I pictured masked writers sitting at their computers with bald light bulbs overhead, writing their stories by the dark of night while the world slept and could not know the sinful novellas they created. It never occurred to me that the community was so large and open. (R123)


At first, I was confused rather than disgusted. I spent a while wondering what was going on and why two boys were together, but soon, after I had read some more and got hooked, I was inspired to write my own slash story. (R46)

I wouldn't say disgusted, but I found it rather strange. Then I decided that seen as there was so much of it about there had to be something good about it. So I gave it a shot and it just so happened that the author I read was amazing. (R100)

I thought it would be weird, but I read a story just to see what it was like, and I did find it weird. It really grew on me though. I thought I would never be able to read LotR slash, because I thought it would ruin the books for me, and I would never do anything that would risk that, because they are such a special part of my life. I did end up reading LotR slash, and I'm glad I did. The ones with well-written plats can read like they are straight from the book. I feel I understand the characters more, and I find I can put all memories of fanfiction away when I am actually reading the books. (R118)

I wasn't disgusted but I felt a bit weird reading it, pretty sure I liked it from the start. (R233)


I was in denial a bit. I kept telling myself my story had been meant as humor, not an actual relationship between two men. I saw Good Will Hunting a little while later and went to look for fanfiction, I found only slash. In my journal I wrote: "all I found was icky slash stories." But the next day I went back and read them all. (172)

6.3.3 Neutral reactions

For some people, encountering slash was not much of an event. The following quotes show the reactions of those who did not have feelings in any particular direction:

At first I didn't have any negative feeling for slash, but no good one too. After a while I found other stories and began to really like it (R79)

I didn't really feel disgusted about it, but I wasn't all for it, either. (R89)

I was never disgusted, but I didn't really fall in love with it until I found my fandoms. (R149)

I was initially indifferent to it, because I was indifferent to the pairings. Then I discovered Highlander fandom, and Duncan/Methos slash. I was hooked almost instantly. I knew *they* would make a good couple right from the start. (R165)

I didn't mind it from the beginning, but I never particularly liked slash over non-slash - whatever's good works for me. (R213)

I had a noncommittal reaction to it at first, before I started reading it, but once I actually sat down and read some, I found it very enjoyable. (R214)

Unsure. It didn't bother me, but it didn't really appeal to me at first. But as I read it started to appeal to me more and more. (R220)

I didn't give much of a response. I just thought it was a good story. (R222)

6.3.4 Mild positive reaction

In some cases the shock of discovering slash was somewhat negative and lead people to stay away from it for a while; however, for others, the shock was a more positive part of their reaction, and it rapidly lead to becoming a fan of slash. The following quotes show the positive reactions:

More like curious. Took me surprisingly little time to adjust, considering it was really the first contact I'd ever had with m/m stuff. Or f/f stuff for that matter.

I did a double-take at first. I remember thinking, "Whoa... did those two guys really just kiss? And did the author mean that?" After I reread the first slash fic I feel in love with the genre. Boys kissing boys... I could see that! (R64)

I didn't mind it because I've always liked stories about forbidden or unrequited love. However, I wasn't too impressed by the terrible sex scenes in the Xena ones. Later on I found some Wesley Crusher/everyone else in the Starfleet slash and I laughed my arse off and a bond was forged. (R187)

I was curious, and it sorta grew on me. (R110)

I was surprised. Not disgusted, more curious. After seeing the movie, I
looked up some fanfic on the net and then I came across slash. And at first I couldn't get around the fact that the scene were Qui-Gon dies might in any way be 'slashy'. Now every two guys smiling at each other holds slash potential for me. I guess I lost a bit of innocence and inhibitions along the way. (R111)

I was actually intrigued. I think that was due to the fact that slash is largely written/read by females. Also, I don't think that it had really occurred to me to even think of something like that, otherwise I'm sure I would have actually sought it out much sooner than I stumbled across it. (R215)

I liked it right away, and initially when I read it I felt like indulging in a guilty pleasure, like I was looking in on something I shouldn't be. At first I was a bit shocked that people would write that sort of thing - not shocked in a bad way - but then I could see the endless possibilies opening up in front of me and the rest, as they say, is history. (R230)

I was lucky to hit on a really good writer first time out. However, at the beginning it was a *very* guilty pleasure, particularly RPS, which I also like. (R190)

It surprised me but I liked it right away. The surprise was part of the attraction. (R246)

I wasn't disgusted, just intrigued. I've never seen anything wrong with homosexuality, just never looked for it in the shows & movies I watched, so I was curious as to how the people who had written these stories came up with this stuff. But as I read more & went back to re-watch the episodes some of these stories were based on, I came to see exactly what caused these stories to be written. I quickly became hooked on slash & hardly ever read het fic anymore. (R262)

Not really disgusted (depends a little bit on the pairing, I don't appreciate all) because I wrote about it myself first, it was more kind of a pleasant surprise that there were thousands of stories to be read and that not only I have something like this on mind. (R269)


My initial reaction was to laugh out loud as I read the fics in the zine I was given, but I came to love slash very quickly. (R86)

I was amused. (R152)

6.3.5 Strong positive reaction

For some people the introduction to slash was a new discovery for them, while for others it tended to fall into line with their established preferences. The following quotes show these strong favorable reactions:

"Wow! I can't believe I missed this for so long! There *are* people like me out there!!" (Much time was spent on Google after this event...) (R146)

I was so excited and happy when I found slash. I knew it was for me right away. I didn't feel like I was the only one anymore. (R175)

And I think I was very fortunate to have that story as my "first" so to speak, because it all started of very easy-going and humorous, and I just had a blast, laughing my ass off. Then eventually it got angstier and darker and that took me by surprise, again making be realize that this kind of stuff could be very serious indeed. And when I was finished, well then there was just one thought remaining in my head: MORE! :) I became deeply obsessed very quickly. (R176)

I believe my reaction was as follows: *stares blankly at screen* *slow smile spreads* "Dude... SWEET!!!" ----I don't think disgust entered into it, just fascination soon followed by obsession. (R194)

Fascinated. The first slash I remember coming across was a fanfic that just sucked me in. The forbidden love angle made me curious and then the interaction between the characters was just so damned sexy. Hooked like a druggie ever since. (R239)

Woah! I've found myself! I've found what's been missing in my life for the past 30 years. I've been released from my shell. (R268)

I was really shocked, amazed and thrilled to find others like me, couldn't believe it. (R270)

I found it fascinating it's a whole community of these brilliant writers writing these beautiful stories. Even the dark one have an element of creativity and beauty. I can't really understand how some people will be so disgusted with it. Ok so maybe the initial response of many people is disgusting...but slash are great reads. (R273)

6.3.6 Mixed reactions

I disliked Qui/Obi slash. Still do, for the most part--I thought the student/teacher relationship was one of the most important parts of Phantom Menace et al, and I felt very strongly about that aspect of their relationship. Around most other slash, I was fine. (R91)

It was one of those "wow, that's sick, but I gotta keep reading to find out what happens" and somehow I just never stopped. (R166)

it was brilliant, though originally I couldn't read the higher ratings because they freaked me out a bit, now I'm ok with them, though I nice innocent G rated one is a welcome relief every once in a while (R167)

I was honestly thrilled to death. I just thought "omg, this is so cool." I've grown up within a lesbian community, to be honest, and so was completely used to the idea. But it wasn't something I really saw many places, I think the only movie I'd even seen by the time I found the slash community concerning any gay couples was "The Birdcage." It did take a while for me to adjust to slash sex, mostly just to get comfortable with reading such things, but it doesn't bother me in the least anymore. (R185)

I did not identify as non-heterosexual then, and was also still Christian, so my first reaction was a mixture of "Wow, this is kind of a cool turn-on thing," and "Oh, my god, I can't believe people write this stuff," and "Oh, no, this is bad. Leave it alone." (R143)

Femslash still squicks me. I liked M/M slash right away. (R259)

6.3.7 Initial Reactions and Underage Readers

As mentioned in the demographics section of this study, the results showed that a considerable number of people who responded to the questionnaire were under 18 years of age. In addition, many people who were over 18 at the time of completing the questionnaire mentioned that they were under 18 when they first started reading slash. In this study, age did not appear to be associated with the type of initial reaction; that is, underage readers were as likely to have positive or negative reactions as older readers. This study, however, does not show how many readers may have read slash and then never come back.

It was mentioned above that those who had a negative reaction and stayed away from slash were not likely to participate in a study such as this; therefore, their experiences are not represented. Considering that there may be underage people who have a negative reaction and do not join the slash community, it could be argued that since such people have ignored the warnings of age restriction it is their responsibility. However, considering the curiosity that leads many people to ignore such warnings, there are some measures that could be taken to prevent these young people from experiencing strong negative reactions to their first encounter with slash. This section provides some descriptions of initial reactions by underage readers, or those who were at the time of discovering slash, that provide ideas for how to prevent strong negative reactions.

The introduction to slash was described in positive terms by some underage readers but negatively by others. The following example shows a positive reaction to discovering slash writing:

I think I first reacted to it like most 13 year olds might. I found it kind of funny and giggled at it in that "tee-hee, it's gay sex" kind of way. (R78)
Some under 18 readers mentioned that their positive introduction to slash was due to the fact that the first slash story they had read was well written.
I was looking for Quantum Leap fanfiction (and I knew absolutely nothing about slash then) and I just stumbled on a QL slash archive. I was kinda...embarrassed at the beginning, but I took a look at a story to see what it was all about, and I was lucky to find a very good story which told about Sam and Al falling in love, and I found myself actually enjoying the story and the idea of them together. I think I read the entire archive in a month ;oD (R133)
Some of those who had a more negative introduction mentioned that it was due to reading a poorly written story. Others may have been shocked by reading a story written in a higher rating before they understood what slash was. The following quote shows this as one person responded to the question of where she first came across slash.
On fanfiction.net in the Friends fandom. It was a Joey/Chandler/Ross story (I think) and it was quite freaky. Not the ideal introduction to slash! (R145)

Perhaps there are ways in which new readers could be given a more positive introduction to the slash genre. People responsible for establishing and maintaining these sites could have an initial area that would introduce new readers to the concept of slash. Such an area could include recommending that new readers start with the lower ratings. A list of well written stories ranging from G to NC-17 could be provided in the new readers' area; however, since some readers search for a particular pairing, they may not want to read stories about other pairings.

Alternatively, current readers could recommend well written stories for new readers to site moderators, who could highlight these for new readers. New readers could then read from lower to higher ratings in their chosen pairing and decide to discontinue before being exposed to sexually explicit material in higher ratings if they find that slash stories are unacceptable. Of course, a new readers' section would also give readers who have only read sexually explicit material of a heterosexual nature a more positive introduction to such texts with same sex pairings. The following quotes show how reading from the lower to higher ratings and stopping at a comfortable level was a more positive way to control the entry into reading slash.

Disgusted for a week or too, then curiosity took over, and I read some G, and then got brave and read PG, eventually I worked my way up to R, but I still stay away from NC17. (R161)
I think I liked it right away. I started out with PG fics, then upped my rating to a hardcore NC17 fan (pardon the pun). (R201)

Recommending an initial reading order and highlighting suitable stories would help not only underage readers but also anyone new to slash who may react negatively to it due to their background experiences.

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