So I’ve had this wacky nostalgia phase lately due in part to the fact that I have decided to knock on someone’s door & toss my hat into a ring that I’m not entirely sure even exists, and part of that has involved talking to people I never thought I’d meet about a portion of my life that my normal business existence doesn’t encounter: fandom.
After a decade of being in fandom, but not really participating on an operational level, my own career path is taking me deeper towards it. While most people my age in LA are getting out of entertainment, I’m finding that my natural trajectory is bringing me into that industry.
For those of you unaware of my humble interweb beginnings, I’m a Bronzer.
holy crap, I just did a search and The Bronze Welcome Wagon is still on the internet.
People will ask why fandom matters, & what we are beyond just a bunch of crazies who like a show or whatever. I’ve sat in meetings with web content people & listened to them describe fans like they’re ants – that fans just show up, as though they’re mindless lemmings who can be commanded.
The truth is, fandom matters because fans aren’t ants. They’re people.
And the stories we tell have an impact on people. On how they view the world. Human beings don’t simply use stories to entertain — the purpose of stories was also to educate. We’re supposed to take the lessons offered and actually apply them in our lives — stories are meant to inspire us to be better.
Which is why how fans are treated & what goes on in fandom is important not only on an economic level as an industry develops, but also in terms of personal impact as our society evolves.
National Coming Out Day
As much as I love what Glee has done to bring the issue to the forefront, long before Chris Colfer twinkle-toed his milkmaid complexion onto a stage at McKinley high school, there have been gay kids. Despite the occasional veiled question raised by my mother regarding my present state of singledom, I actually am straight. However, you can’t work in the art community without having encountered or witnessed how hard being a gay kid can be.
I was reminded of this a couple weeks ago when a Bronzer came to town and after twelve years, we met for the first time in person.
Like me, Cassandra was one of the younger Bronzers — she was only 14 or 15 when she found us, & one of the things that we discussed that day was how having to hold your own in a written forum debating issues with professionals in their mid-30s is a great way for a teenager to get real mature, real quick.
One of the things that really struck me about the conversation was when Cassandra and I talked about the introduction of the character Faith in season 3 & the fact that it was the first time she’d encountered someone openly discussing homosexuality.
As Cass put it, “I remember someone talking about Faith in that way, & I was like, ‘But… that’s a girl. Talking about Faith, who’s also a girl. and that would be… oh‘.
“I mean, we’d heard about gay people, but I lived in Northern Ireland and we had problems with things blowing up, so gay people were like, you know, unicorns or world peace — I mean you knew they might be out there, but you didn’t think it would ever actually show up in your life. But there it was, right there on the internet and people were talking about it like it wasn’t any big deal.”
For Cass, that was the first time she encountered homosexuality – in a fandom environment, in a way where it wasn’t wrong, or attacked or stigmatized, but simply… something that just was, & that’s the way it was.
I sat there on a beach wall in Venice a few weeks ago, talking to a girl I’d met on the internet over a decade ago and in real life less than an hour before. That fifteen year old is now in her mid-twenties and trying to decide if she wants to stay in Scotland for school to get her PhD in genetics or go to London, adding with a smile that we shouldn’t ever tell her parents part of her decision will be influenced by which school has the better roller derby league nearby.
I think of this conversation and the impact that fandom has on people’s lives on National Coming Out Day because when we were talking about Cass’ first interaction with homosexuality in question, she finished the story with, “…and I just never really forgot that moment, when I first talked to someone that was okay with being a lesbian, because as it turns out… I’m one too.”