identity

Feeling Invisible

It isn’t hard to feel invisible in the world today.  So much is going on, and thanks to the internet, the conversation never stops.  It easier than ever to feel like no one sees us.

The trick is to ask yourself:

How do I want to be seen?

I don’t think there is a more important question we could ask ourselves.  Despite what people say, there is nothing we can do to make people notice us.  All we can control is how people see us if they stumble upon us.

Some people call this personal branding… I hate that term.  I am not a Coke!  I have a reputation not a brand!

Authentically Me

I love to see how people react to me when they first meet me.  I am an open book, and many have learned at their own peril not to ask me questions they don’t want me to answer honestly.

You see, in 1997, I lost everything.  My three best friends turned their back on me…

One of them, stole my identity, my college fund, got me evicted from my house, turned my other friends against me, and didn’t even understand how that could have upset me.  I was devastated.  My life in rumble around me, I learned the most important lesson of my life: Never lie to anyone!

I invested years in a relationship with a person who had no intention of being my friend.  He only wanted to use me to make his life better, screw the consequences.

I decided right then and there to be honest with everyone I meet.  No games, no lies.  If people don’t like me for who I am, then they are not the people I need to have around me.  In return, I ask one thing of the people in my life:

Never Lie to me

Trust is a two way road.  I am willing to bear my soul and be authentically who I am at all times, the very least I can expect in return from other people is that they will never lie to me.

I tell people that.  “I consider you a friend now.  I have been honest with you, and I expect you to do the same.  If I ever find out you have lied to me from this point on, I am not sure I can remain friends with you.”

Yeah, it is a little blunt, but that is how I am.  I don’t expect everyone to be as open as I am, but I expect them to be honest in their dealings with me.

Stop worrying about being noticed

It is far more important to consider what people see when you are noticed.  If you are a decent person, they will spread the word.  The truth will always win out.

How do you see your relationships with others?

Do you think there are any other traits besides honesty and authenticity we should expect from each other?

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Where is the Diversity in IDIC?

Fandom is a beautiful thing. Fandom is nothing more and nothing less than people gathering in common cause to say, “We love this!” It is a common bond bringing together people from disparate groups that would ordinarily never mix and mingle. Through movie attendance, book clubs, fan clubs, conventions, and online networks, we join in unanimous praise and critique of the objects of our love. The stories, characters, and settings we love tie us together, and give us shared stories through which we relate to each other. What happens when certain voices of the community are not represented in those stories, characters, and settings? How do these people make their voices heard. We unite with our friends and allies to hi-light the problems and seek to bring these lost voices out of the community and into the very things we love.

Minority Report

John Stewart. Promotional cover art for Green ...
Image via Wikipedia

Gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender identity are only a handful of the communities struggling for representation within Speculative Fiction and fandom. Over the years, I have been delegated the responsibility for dealing with issues of sexual orientation and gender identity by a couple conventions in Maryland. The problems are deep, the solutions are imaginative, and our progress has been impressive.

Roles for women, ethnic minorities, and homosexuals are not only under represented, but they are often included either as stereotypes or as the character who will be killed at some point in the story.

The Jon Stewart Green Lantern movie couldn't get green lit, but the Hal Jordon Green Lantern did.  Even in the Transformers, the black Autobot died.

It is time for more more minorities to take on leading roles without having to pander to a white, heterosexual, male audience.

Homophobia is Sexism

It is not the most widely held opinion, but I have argued for years that Homophobia is just another form of sexism. For most people, their problem with GLBT people is that we do not fit nicely into the culturally acceptable gender roles assigned to us. The solution to this is not to conform to these gender roles, or to defy them. What we need to do is be ourselves.

IDIC

In this series, I will be discussing my experiences as a gay man in fandom and SF.

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The Stigma of Fandom

Let's face it, Speculative Fiction fandom has a stigma attached to it that no other fans base does.  Music and sports fans are celebrated, while SF fans are often ridiculed for engaging in the same activities.

Rise of Anti-intellectualism

I blame the rise of the anti-intellectual movements which began to organize in 1972, and the culture of ignorant bliss they promulgated for the stigma.  They pushed the image of a good American as a one more interested in might than dialogue.  Following the leader and the trends those leaders established were seen as more valuable than free thought.  Questions were not encouraged.

Civics classes were dropped from the curriculum in the 1970s, and science education suffered soon there after.

This new culture held instinct and feeling as a higher source of insight than rationalism and education.

Never left High School

The tension between nerds and jocks in American High Schools is a schism that has probably always been with us, but in the 1970's and '80's this conflict was moved into the popular culture through movies, music, and television.  These shows portrayed the jock as the hero and the nerd as the misfit who should be mocked and left out.

Dialogue and debate were stripped from our public dialogue, replaced by televised shouting matches.  Pop culture's development was stunted.  Adherents never matured out of the the high school mindset because there was no need.  Pop Culture lowered itself so it would remain accessible to this new class of permanent high schoolers.

The Consumer Culture

There is a financial reason to stunt the growth of Pop Culture.  The less discerning your audience is, the less expensive content is to make, the more people are likely to buy it.

Despite the pleas for better content, the financial benefit of keeping people from maturing and developing opinions is just too high to dissuade them from their present course.

Revenge of the Nerds

In the 1980's and '90's, the misfits started to fight back.  Movies like Revenge of the Nerds, The Goonies, and Mallrats became touchstones for outcasts to rally behind, but the damage had already been done.

The culture had been damaged, and fans were charactured as annoyances.  The misfits, now nothing more than the punchline of a poorly written joke, had to fend for themselves.  We orginized into tighter groups.

The Heart's Ache

Through it all, the fans persevered, because through it all, we knew something the pop culture never will.  We know what it is to find meaning.

The music, books, series, and movies we love gave us meaning.  It is different for every fan, but it is still there.  In our hearts, we know why we are in the world and what we have to do.

Kahless the Unforgettable
Image via Wikipedia

I found my meaning in the Klingons from Star Trek.  While I wouldn't say my life has been a hard on, I still had to fight for everything that I have.  I had to fight for my identity, my life, and my very mind and soul.  Through the Klingons, I learned that life is about the struggle.  It is about the fight not the outcome.

I used to cosplay as a Klingon at the conventions (when I wasn't a vampire).  I took their idea of honor, and made it my own.  It helped me to reign in my temper, and enjoy the struggles of my life.  I am a better person for rejecting the popular culture and embracing fandom.

Unlike so many that I meet, my heart doesn't ache from a lack of meaning.

Laugh if you want to

So laugh at me if you want to.  Tell me that I am taking these silly books, songs, series, and movies too seriously.  That's ok, I am used to it.  My only hope is that if my words can find their way to that one kid who is ashamed of who they are, how they see the world, and how they want to live, it is all worth it.

Fandom quite literally saved my life.  Suicide is all too common among people who don't feel like they belong.  Fandom is the only culture and community that asks so little of its members.

Do you love something so much you want to keep it with you always?  Has there ever been a song that you felt told your story so perfectly you had to love it?  Have you ever seen a show that drew you in so deeply you saw yourself in it?  Have you ever read a book that changed you, and made you better?

I feel sorry for the people who cannot answer yes to those questions, and I hope they will open their hearts and let something in.

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Consistency: Don't Forget Who You Are

We are here at the Wine Rack/Java Stop getting ready for the show. It promises to be interesting night. I met with the band, the Underground Blues Division, and I will be bringing you an interview with them a little bit later. As for now, we are all learning an important lesson: Don't forget who you are. Half the staff are undependable people who are not emotionally invested in the shop, so they remembered who they are and called in sick tonight. Surprise, surprise. That was more predictable than a sunrise.

Now the Band and Management are doing what bands and management do, they each think the other is the only think of important. The venue as always thinks too highly of itself, and the band is already mutinous. This is the mix that will make fireworks, and I anticipate a good show.

I on the other hand have been sitting in my place watching and observing, and not attracting the ire of either side. I know who I am and my part to play in this little dance tonight.

Janus is looking down and laughing. Chaos reigns at the turning of the year.

Adrift

Ok, things are getting better.  I think I have been able to isolate the cause of my anxiety.  Every since the election of the current pope, I have felt disconnected from the church and my faith.  I left the church shortly there after, and have joined in my Matthew Fox in his call for a new reformation, but where I live, I am very much alone in this opinion. Like many people, I find meaning and identity in my faith.  I believe in the sacraments and the rites of the church.  And now I am disconnected from that source of meaning and identity.  I feel isolated and alone.  I light my candles and continue to pray, but with out the church, I have lost access to communion...

...Communion... Joseph Campbell once said that he did not believe that we were searching for meaning, but that we were looking for the experience of being alive.  I think that can be summed up in that one word, communion.  The longing to feel a part of something greater than myself and the experience of community is to me a vital part of feeling alive.

I am disconnected from the town I live in... disconnected from my church... disconnected from my friends, family, and all of the things I love.  I have lost communion with all of these things.

Adrift in this sea of meaninglessness, I have found a way to stay afloat, but I need to find others adrift with me.  Together, we can build a new community where we can have communion together, and again find the experience of being alive.

National Coming Out Day

C.E. Dorsett I hope everyone has taken the day to be who they are, and the embrace their identity with out any embarrassment or guilt.

I believe that National Coming Out Day should be a national banking holiday to express who they are openly.

If you like tattoos, SHOW THEM! You should have to hide them to have a posh job!

If you like to wear black and paint your self with make up, DO IT!! Let your Goth flag fly!

Wear your Star Trek lapel pin, promote your favorite music, what ever you are trying to hid so you can fit in to this bland, cold, vacuous culture that seeks to make each of us into homogenized, mindless consumers with nothing out of place or different, COME OUT! This day was made for you and me.

On that note:

George Takei on Politically Direct with David Bender

George Takei and Rachel Maddow will be discussing coming out on tonights show. (See it here)