“Outsiders are pretty routinely baffled by the popularity of slash fic amongst women, even if they haven’t been presented with the cold, hard, numerical truth, given fandom’s (accurate) reputation as a primarily female community. Though there are, of course, no statistics to confirm exactly how few men participate in fandom, they are certainly a minority. Though fandom and fanfiction are technically public – once again, you can find anything on Google, and to quote a movie I don’t otherwise like much, “The internet’s not written in pencil, Mark, it’s written in ink” – fandom spaces can give the illusion of privacy, of a sort of gated community that isn’t actually gated at all, but simply not of interest to those not in the know. In much the same way that, hundreds of years ago, many women wrote extensively but typically only for private circulation amongst friends and acquaintances, fanfiction is part of an informal, communal cultural exchange, functioning not as a capitalistic enterprise but as a kind of gift economy: I’ll write you this story, a fanfic writer might say, e-mailing her friend snippets of prose; you write me something back.”
This is a great read, and should be read in tandem with the "Defense of Slash" that Tinderblast posted in 2000 or 2001:
I can remember the first days of Harry Potter fanfiction. It was only a year or so ago, really, but that year made a difference - stories written by fans were few and far between, at least in any large quantity, and the Harry Potter section of fanfiction.net had maybe two or three pages to its name. In that year, things have changed - there are mailing lists and websites for fanfics everywhere you look, and FFN now sports over 200 pages of fics, and more by the day. We’ve come a long way, but the basic idea stays the same. People still write stories, people still read stories, people still review stories. And people still flame stories.
Because there has been something of a mini-revolution in the past year, which has been growing for a while. Maybe it’s been months, maybe it’s been the whole year or even earlier, but a new category of Harry Potter fanfiction has taken hold. In these stories, it’s not Ron and Hermione who kiss and hold hands. Nor is it Harry and Ginny, Draco and Hermione, Remus Lupin and a Mary Sue (more on those some other time), or any of the other myriad pairings that have existed in Harry Potter fics for as long as anyone can remember. No. In these stories, it’s Sirius Black and Remus, or Harry and Ron, Draco and Neville, Ginny and Hermione, or any of another long list of pairings. Slash or same-sex pairing fanfiction has come to the fandom.
And these fics, along with their authors, are getting flamed out of their minds.