Odd, how the way we represent ourselves can have such a big impact on how other see us, or at least how we imagine them doing it. I've been thinking about that a lot, how we carve ourselves into groups fannish and otherwise, and how that can shape how we think of ourselves. Am I a Granada fan, a Doyle fan, a BBC fan? Am I a Johnlock "shipper" or not, a TJLC fan or not? For the record the answer to the first three is yes on all counts, and while I lean toward the first option (Johnlocker, TJLC) over the "not," that doesn't keep me from enjoying those other folks' companies.
All of which is old news. What has me thinking just now is the way even asking the question, and how we ask it, changes how we think about ourselves and others. In Sherlock the big distinctions seem to be over whether you like to imagine John/Sherlock as sexual partnecrs, and whether you expect to see it on-show. And then there are the people with no opinion because they like it all or don't particularly care; but the show's and fandom's (and books!) focus was on John and Sherlock for so long, that really is where most of the people I see categorize themselves. The thing is, once you define yourself in terms of a sexual-John&Sherlock or nonsexual-John&Sherlock I think at some level you drive yourself to focus more on those things. So if you're writing a story with no sex or romance, no tackling of the sex/romance question, but you run in the sexual-John&Sherlock circles, that will just feel weird at some level. And vice versa; if you run n the nonsexual-John&Sherlock circles, that rejection drives a lot of how you approach the characters.
So I'm thinking what the fandom would look like if we divided it up more like the Tolkien fandom did: first by race (elf fan, hobbit fan, Gondorian fan, whatever) and then by character, maybe even whether you think of him as good or bad. I'm thinking for instance of the kinder!gentler!Denethor corner of fandom, where you tried to build up Denethor as a functional human being before the palantir took him over. That had its impact as well, but definitely the way we divided ourselves differently, I'm guessing as a way to make the size manageable and build up community, it had a big impact on how peoples' thoughts and characters developed. And it kind of dictated who you were likely to spend time with.
All of which fascinates me somehow, even as it frustrates me and makes me a bit sad. Curious what other people think - how do you group fans, if you do, and how does it change the way you play in fandom?