Dominated by LGBTQ+ and female-identified fans from various backgrounds, Tumblr blogs dedicated to queer readings of the BBC television series Sherlock (2010–ongoing) are a breeding ground for less-discussed forms of unremunerated queer labor: utopian, heuristic, and care work. In their digital fanworks, Tumblr queer users marry crafts associated with domestic heterosexual femininity (collage and scrapbooking) with established female fan practices (slashing and shipping) to articulate complex sexual and gender identities and navigate neuro-divergent mental health statuses. This article examines the shifts real-time digital interactivity and transmedia storytelling have introduced to viewer/producer power relations. Unpacking “queer cryptography” as a form of reception labor offers a feminist reading of the diverse modes of LGBTQ+ identification, kinship, and activism performed by queer female viewers on Tumblr, while questioning the vulnerability and possible exploitation of the unsanctioned affective labor produced by such a desperately underrepresented demographic.

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