Slash fiction is a genre of fan fiction that focuses on the depiction of a sexual relationship between two or more characters of the same sex who may well not be engaged in such a relationship in canon.
History of the termEdit
It is commonly believed that current day slash fan fiction originated within the fandom for the original Star Trek television series. Stories featuring the characters James T. Kirk and Spock in a romantic relationship, generally written by female fans, first appeared in the 1970s. Such stories were referred to as "Kirk/Spock" stories, later abbreviated as "K/S". The term "slash" arises from the use of the slash symbol (/) in the name for this genre, which contrasted with the use of the ampersand (&) conventionally used for stories about the canonical (non-sexual) friendship between the two characters (Kirk and Spock fiction, or K&S).
This type of homoerotic fiction then spread to other fandoms, starting with Starsky and Hutch, Blake's 7, and The Professionals. At first, slash was not accepted by many fans, partly because it contradicted accepted canon. However, increasing tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality and frustration with the portrayal of gay relationships in mainstream media fed a growing desire in fan writers to explore the subjects on their own terms using established media characters. Slash fiction has spread to many other fandoms, especially those devoted to science fiction, fantasy, and police dramas. This includes Forever Knight.
Slash fiction, like other fan fiction, sometimes borrows the MPAA film rating system (or some alternative system) to indicate the amount of sexual content in the story. It is important to note that not all slash fiction has explicit sexual content.
Ambiguity and Controversy over the Definition of SlashEdit
Due to the lack of canonical homosexual relationships in source media, slash fiction originally lay exclusively outside canon. The question therefore arises as to the relative significance of the non-canonicity of the relationship versus the homosexuality of the characters' behaviour. Initially, the issue was moot, since homosexual protagonists simply did not appear in television series at the time. However, since the late 1990s, openly gay and bisexual characters have often appeared as regular characters on screen. It was therefore at this point that the definition of slash became a matter of controversy.
Some fans have concluded that the term "slash" should only be employed when the relationship being written about is not part of the source's canon. Fan fiction about canonical same-sex relationships (such as those in the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Queer as Folk) should therefore not properly be referred to as slash fiction. It has even been suggested—to some degree tongue in cheek—that fan fiction about canonically homosexual characters engaging in heterosexual relationships should be considered to be slash.
However, the restriction of slash to non-canonical relationships has not been widely adopted. The term is usually employed to refer to any homosexual relationship between characters, whether they are canonically gay or straight.
Although originally all same-sex relationships tended to be described as "slash", the majority of slash fiction featured male/male (m/m) couples. For this reason, in the 1990s, people interested in reading about lesbian (f/f) relationships coined the term "femslash"—derived from 'female slash'—to refer to a genre of fan fiction featuring female characters involved in a romantic or sexual relationship. This rapidly became the most common media fandom term for homosexual relationships between female characters.