The results of the Slash fandom demographic poll came out, and were a surprise to exactly fucking no one who has been involved in Slash fandom. What gets me is this: “Evidence suggests that it is worth questioning the assumption that all or most M/M fans are heterosexual women.”
Not that the OP wrote it, but the recent idea that Slash fandom is comprised of het women, which is annoying and problematic. So I want to talk about that, and I’m going to take you all into the wayback machine with me and to give you some historical contextual understanding of the Slash fandom and its population of participants and our experiences.
Slash is not a new fucking phenomena. We can trace the roots of modern Slash back to Star Trek TOS and Kirk/Spock, which is where/when the term Slash was coined. That was MANY DECADES ago now, like over HALF A FUCKING CENTURY ago, really.
My first days in fandom were in 1996. It was a different place back then, as one would expect. The first main thing you need to understand is that every fandom was separate. Fanfiction.net was a big deal when it came into being because it was the first big multi-fandom archive, and it existed as the only large scale, majorly used, all-encompassing one until the recent advent of AO3.
So fandoms each had their own lists, boards and archives. Notice the plural there. Not only were the fandoms separate, so was content. Back in the mid 90s, the distinction between Gen, Het and Slash (and Femslash, which was becoming a major player at that point—THANKS XENA) fic was Serious Business, and in many cases they were each on different lists/boards/archives. Also, fic with explicit sex was still viewed as risque (or even crude), and often eye-rolled at because of what was a VERY VERY VERY strong community convention of canon adherence. It wasn’t uncommon for sexually explicit fic to be found on invite-only communities, or locked down with a password.
At that time, Slash was extremelycontroversial within the larger context of fandom.