We, who went through elementary school teased for our glasses, or for having our noses stuck in books all of the time. We, who went through hell in middle and high schools for being band geeks, or dressing weird, or using multisyllabic words. I remember being teased so mercilessly for having a Harvard sweatshirt (didn't I know I was supposed to wear one of the giant universities near us?) that I threw it away. Do you remember our journals, our quote books, our poetry? We who would never be homecoming queens and kings, who were ganged up on by the popular kids, who were then sometimes backed by the administration because why couldn't we just hold our tongues. We who held our tongues to the point of becoming invisible.
We who, if we were lucky, would escape every now and then to a world of freaks and geeks and be free. I went to Van Buren Youth Camp, and that was that place for me. A place where hippies and Rocky Horror fans and people who knew all of the words to every musical ever could all hang out and do our thing. Where boys could wear skirts and girls could shave their heads. God, I loved that place. I loved it so much that once I cried so hard when I had to go home that they suspected I was abused. I wasn't. I just really really missed being away from my tribe for the other 51 weeks of the year. We, who were that table in college. We have been waiting our whole lives for this moment. Not that we'd admit it, of course, but on some level, we have.
It's here. It doesn't take much to see that. Superheroes and Star Wars and Dr.Who are everywhere. In WalMart, in JoAnn Fabrics. Guys, do you see how huge that is? That we are no longer limited to just Hot Topic because those giant conglomerations know that enough people will buy that stuff that they stock it?
You can't go out without seeing someone with brightly colored hair or piercings. Fandom has become part of the lexicon. Indy publishers and local film groups and ren faires and YouTube give us that outlet to be what we actually wanted to be when we grew up. Our passions and our skills and our brains have allowed us to literally put our money where our mouths are and people are listening. This is it. We are the cool kids.
Yet, I'm troubled. Because now that our time in the sun has come, I'm seeing something that upsets me. I'm seeing the word "sportsball" used way too much. I'm seeing way too many harsh comments about people who are famous, who like sports, who have passions other than ours. You can't post anything on Facebook without meme warriors and Snopes devotees coming down with that tone. You know that tone? Sure you do. In short, I'm seeing far too many of us treating others how we were treated. Guys, we are better than this. We know what it feels like to be mocked for the things we enjoy. We know what it is like to be made to feel less than others because of a gift we were given or a skill we had. We know this all the way down to our bones, and the fact that we are now doing this to others is a damned shame because there's not one of us who can't still feel that gut-churning, rage-inducing, shoulder-hunching feeling that that gave us.
We have no excuse for this. You, who have memorized Elvish or Klingon have no reason to be snide with someone who can rattle off sports statistics. You, who have a Full Metal Alchemist cosplay don't get to raise an eyebrow at jerseys. You, who have spent cumulative years painting Warcraft figures don't get to shun someone who clicks on every link about the Kardashians (yes, I know, strategy and brains versus vanity and, well, vanity, but stay with me). And then there's this geek war stuff. Geeks on geeks. "You're too fat/female/old to cosplay." This console/platform vs. that one. "You don't know the origin story of (insert character here)." The geek versions of "Dude, do you even lift?" That would be a blog post all on it's own.
Instead, why don't we treat others the way we wished, desperately, we had been treated. Ask questions, listen to the answers. Give it a try; who knows, we may like it. After all, Legolas befriended a dwarf. Everyone still loved Jayne, cunning hat and all. Even Harry showed grace to Draco at the end.
We can do this. We've spent our whole lives being shown how. By our heroes. Be a hero. A big damn hero.