My best friend in junior high school was a fellow Star Trek fan I'd met in a hotel in Pennsylvania - we spent hours in the motel pool quoting episodes and we were delighted to discover she lived in a different neighborhood in Brooklyn. And we had hours long phone convesations where we tortured our favorite characters. Literally. (She loved Chekov and wanted him to suffer.) Gina, are you out there?
It got me through the traumas of high school and college. I wrote reams of Star Trek fanfic in college, and I collected every book I could find.
And when I did find my way into organized fandom (thank you, Debby, for bringing me to that Blake's 7 con, even if it would be over a decade before I set foot in a media con again), I found myself. I found the people I could talk to the best, where I had skills that people appreciated. Where I was considered attractive. And I found friends that I still have, that I hope I always will have.
It's where I found the way into being religious (thank you, Harold and Becky); it's where I found my husband, another Fan. It's where I belonged. Belong. SF fandom still plays a large part of my social life, our artwork comes from convention art shows and we organize our vacations around conventions. Which we attend not to see any particular writer or artist, but so we can see our friends, participate in discussions, buy books from people we know and spend the night singing in a circle.
And when I rediscovered media fandom, I found a different home. SF fandom has lots of women these days - we've pretty much reached parity. It's not the boy's club it used to be. But in media fandom - especially but not exclusively slash - we've carved out a woman's space that is very rare these days. And I've met some of the most amazing women this way, some of whom I consider friends. And I wouldn't have met them at all if I didn't want to see Paris and Chakotay together.
I'm a fan because that's as much a part of who am as being Jewish, as being female, as being *short*.