Elise Vist presented a paper at the Fan Studies Network North America (FSNNA) 2018 Conference at DePaul University in Chicago, October 25-27, 2018. Vist is an English PhD candidate studying fans, immersion, and queerness at the Games Institute, as well as the producer for First Person Podcast.
Vist's paper, entitled "Hockey RPF and Intimate Fandoms of Hockey", examined real person fanfiction (RPF) of players in the NHL. She argued that mainstream Hockey fandoms aren't inclusive or accessible to many queer and POC fans. Instead, queer fans of hockey are drawn to Hockey RPF, of which there are several intimate publics of fandom.
Intimate publics are small, relational groups of people who identify with one another in a fandom to the extent that they disidentify with the norm of the public fandoms:
In my intimate fandom of hockey, I can’t simply identify with hockey players, because to take them on as objects of identification would be to let go of the identities that make me me: queer, anti-racist, anti-capitalist, feminist. The alternative, though, can’t be to avoid hockey or its athletes altogether, because – however hypocritical it is – I like hockey.
- Elise Vist
In this presentation, Vist shared her findings on how these intimate publics help reconcile the tension that queer fans have about being a fan of a sport with a culture that is unwelcoming to queer identities. However, she also acknowledged that Hockey RPF doesn't solve all of the problems of public fandoms:
P.K. Subban is one of the very few black men in the NHL, […] The racism that hounds Subban in reality is not absent, even in an intimate fandom that celebrates queerness through Hockey RPF, because not every intimate fandom of hockey prioritizes blackness in the same way it prioritizes queerness.
Hockey RPF and intimate publics of fandom are parts of Vist's ongoing research for her PhD. She also maintains a blog where she writes about specific findings from her research, such as the term "bromance" and the homosexual paradox of the sport.