Shipping and Fandom a Newbie’s guide to the pitfalls of Shipping Wars

If you enter the world of Fandom, you have to be prepared for there to be a whole lot of group “OMG!” flailing and also a number of other things.  In this post, I will try my best to discuss shipping and what exactly it entails.  I’m going to try and remain unbiased, but undoubtedly that may fall apart at the seams so I apologise in advance.Continue reading “Shipping and Fandom a Newbie’s guide to the pitfalls of Shipping Wars”

There is nothing shameful in being queer

As members of the LGBTQ community we are who we are and there isn’t a lot we can do about our sexuality or gender.  We can’t help that we were born this way and we certainly shouldn’t be expected to either.  Sadly in today’s society, it seems like we are.  The pressure we are put under to be ‘normal’ and to hide who we are, not just by the media and certain celebrities who make fun of our relationships, but by our own families is disgraceful.  So I’m saying it here, it is not shameful to be queer.  The behaviour of people towards us is what’s shameful.

For once in my life, I would like to see Sci-Fi represent us as part of the norm, after all it’s about pushing boundaries.  I applaud the short lived SGU and the portrayal of Camille Wray by Ming Na.  A character who was a lesbian but whose only purpose was not her sexuality.  I applaud Joanne Kelly and Jaime Murray for their firm support of the Myka/HG ship.  The fact that Steve in Warehouse 13 is gay as well makes life that little bit more affirmed for the queer audience, but it’s not enough.  I want transgender characters, I want queer characters in MAIN roles.  And not just in Sci-Fi.  I want to see actors not disparaging their fans because they ship their character with one of the same sex.  Anyone who knows me will know who I’m talking about.

I would like celebrities who have had gay/lesbian/bisexual/whatever relationships in the past and who have ultimately fallen into a ‘straight’ relationship not to clarify what they are saying with “I’m not gay” or “I’m not fluid in my sexuality but I did do this in the past.”  Quite frankly, your past is your past and your present it your present, you don’t know what your future will hold and you shouldn’t have to clarify or quantify your actions.  Just the same as someone like me who has had relationships with the opposite sex in the past should not have to add “but it doesn’t mean I’m straight” or “but my attraction to women isn’t because of a bad experience.”  So you had a relationship? Big whoop! You’re human and you had an encounter with another human being.  It doesn’t invalidate who you are as a person.

I would like the media not to jump on the fact that someone has had a queer relationship in the way that it does.  I do not want to open tabloid newspapers (actually I try and avoid going anywhere near them) and see “X HAD GAY RELATIONSHIP” plastered on the front page with some damning story inside.  It sends out the wrong message and quite frankly, X could have had multiple partners at the same time and I’d still be more interested in their work.

I don’t want comedians to think that ANY minority is fair game as long as they themselves are coming from a place of privilege.  I’m sorry, but if you’re a white able bodied male who is secure in his heterosexuality and gender, you have no right to make jokes about women, people of colour, queer people or disabled people without expecting to a) hurt someone and b) receive backlash.  And don’t get me started on the male comedians who think that rape is fair game, because I might just explode.  There is NO place for rape jokes in society, it furthers the notion that it is up to victims to protect themselves rather than the rapist not to do it in the first place.

I would like my queer friends and other queer people the world over to feel safe in their own homes.  I would like not to get emergency messages asking me if I can suggest safe harbour because yet another person’s sexuality means they aren’t safe in their family home.  Families should accept and love regardless, not emotionally, mentally and physically abuse because a child or family member is queer.  So many of us have been there and so many of us are struggling to deal with it still.  It’s been 7 years since I left that environment and I’m still dealing with the repercussions now.  A lot of baggage comes with being in that sort of home and it’s not a pretty subject.

I’ll keep fighting for these things to become a reality.  I’ll sign petitions, I’ll make my blog posts, I’ll speak to people about it, I’ll boycott places like Chik-Fil-H8.  I’ll research and find ways to keep those in danger safe.  But I won’t lie down and rest on it like some people would like me to.  It’s when we sweep the issues under the carpet that the problem intensifies.

To the queer community out there, I want you to know this, you are beautiful.  You are perfect just the way you are.  If you find yourself in a bad situation, there are ways to get out.  And if for whatever reason, now is not the time, then please please please go to Kicked Out Anthology and know that you are not alone.  There are people out there with stories just like yours.

Spirituality, Sci-Fi and Amanda Tapping

Fairy StairsWhen I woke up today, there was an air of trepidation about me.  I procrastinated as I got ready, despite the fact I knew that Eileen and Jim would be coming to pick me up so we could go to the Fairy Fest in Oakworth.  There was a stop we had to make on the way that was the reason for my not wanting to step out the front door.

Continue reading “Spirituality, Sci-Fi and Amanda Tapping”

“My work will never be done. Which means that one day you may have to accept the fact that you will have to carry on without me.”

 Helen Magnus, Sanctuary (Requiem)

It’s been a while since I watched this episode of Sanctuary, but tonight, I had what I call my “I need to watch Crazy!Magnus” head on, and so into the DVD player it went.  Normally I sit and quote the whole thing, which is why I’m glad I am home alone with my hamster, Chipmunk.  But tonight is the first night I’ve really and truly felt a twinge at the above line.

In the  past 3 years, since its inception, I’ve supported Sanctuary for Kids.  The charity that was spawned from this series.  In the past year of the charity, I have been part of a group called Small Pebbles.  We focus our efforts, or at least have done so far, on raising funds for Sanctuary for Kids.  We’ve raised a considerable amount for our first year, although I won’t reveal how much until it becomes public.  We’ve thrown ourselves into it whole heartedly.  It’s a passion that cannot be rivaled, not unlike Magnus’ work in the show.

The charity has outlived the TV series that brought a lot of us together, but that is no surprise, I always knew it would.  Good work, a never ending supply of Amanda Tapping fans and voila, the perfect recipe for keeping it going.  I can quite honestly admit that I haven’t run out of ideas for fundraisers yet and I doubt I will for a long while.  What does all this have to do with the above quote?  I realised something when hearing the quote.  Amanda, Jill and Damian are keeping us all driven forwards with this amazing charity, but the responsibility is ours.

We are the ones who have to carry the mantle, not in the business sense but in keeping the spirit and the message alive.  We are the ones who are carrying on the work that will never be done in our lifetime.  In all honesty I hope I’m wrong, I hope that we have a global turnaround on wealth, understanding, respecting and loving our fellow man within our lifetimes.  I want to see that, badly.  I want to watch the world and the attitude of the people in it change for the better and reach that stage, but I have a feeling that our generation will lay the paving stones but not see the end of the road.

There’s a quote that is famous among Amanda fans, and some, if not many of us, have taken it up as a mantra:

“Live Peace, Speak Kindness, Dwell in Possibility.”

That quote is one that inspires, it sits on my desk at work, reminding me not to lose it at the more difficult clients.  It is on my bedroom door as a reminder when I wake, it’s the last thing I say at night and the first thing I say in the morning.  It’s what Amanda and Sanctuary for Kids embody.  A world where peace and kindness are real possibility and those possibilities are endless.  I’m teaching myself to think those words before I raise my voice in anger, I’m teaching myself to use those words to remind me that when things go to hell there are still possibilities, and I’m using them to remind me that as a race, we’re not quite there yet.

So yes, we’ll continue the fundraising, we’ll continue spreading the word, and we’ll teach our children to do the same.  They will grow up in a world where they understand the power of giving, love, peace, kindness and possibility.  They will carry on the mantle we have passed to them that has been passed onto us, and they will continue to follow our path, trying to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

Grandchild of the war

Growing up on a small island, once occupied by the Nazis during WWII, you grow up with an ever present knowledge of ‘the War’ or ‘the Occupation’ as it’s referred to back home.  Be it through school books or the ever present reminders in the architecture dotted around the island.  The now vacant building that once held Jersey College for Girls, my old school, has two faded red crosses on it from when it was used as a Nazi hospital, bunkers and gun posts litter the coast line, and every year on May 9th, Liberation Day is celebrated.  It’s a reminder that once we weren’t free, but now we are.  Living on the mainland now (as England is known), I miss the chance to celebrate Liberation Day.  Whilst many now see it as an excuse for a day or afternoon off, I used it to look back, to reflect on the things that I never had to see, the lives lost and to celebrate what it means to be free.

Life would have been a lot different for all of us on that island if the regime of Hitler and the Nazis had remained.  And if I was alive, this blog, if allowed, would be coming to you in German, but the chances are it would be heavily censored and heavily biased to a world that chills me to the bone.

On reading The Independent Blogs at lunchtime today, another lunchtime at work habit, I was more than slightly miffed. It’s common knowledge among those at home who care to learn their history that Hitler’s genocide affected the disabled population as well as those quoted.  Now frankly, if it wasn’t my disabilities that got me killed, it would have been my sexuality, but the BBC should have done their research better. When a corporation with the resources of the BBC misses out a large portion of those who suffered at the hands of such a totalitarian regime it disgusts me.

I am, as are a large majority of the current global population, a grandchild of the war.  At 30 years old, I know that one of my grandfathers fought in the Navy during those years, I know that my other grandparents were too young to play that sort of part, but that they would throw stones at passing Nazi soldiers and run away and hide.  I’m proud of my grandparents and my great grandparents and the role they played in the war, and I’m especially proud to say that I come from an island where a lesbian couple smuggled news and people out right under the Nazis’ noses.

But I’m disappointed when all aspects of the atrocities aren’t shared.  The children taken and killed because of their disabilities, the people with mental health problems and those generally less able mentally who were killed at the hands of the Nazis’ deserve to be remembered along with everyone else.  Their loss is equal to the genocide of others, none should be forgotten.

One day, I’ll make the trip to Auschwitz and pay my respects to the people who lost their lives in that cruel place and others like it.  The Russian POWs who lost their lives in Jersey, the Jews, the Roma (from whom I am descended), the ‘promiscuous’, the LGBTQ folk, the communists, the disabled, the children, the adults, every human being who lost their lives at the hands of the regime that wanted a ‘pure race’.  Perhaps I’ll walk there arm in arm with my American future wife, and my two amazing surrogate sisters, one German, one Swiss, and we will stand there together and remember and be grateful for the freedom and friendship we share. The chances are it will leave me more drained that I become walking through the War Tunnels (formerly known as the German Underground Hospital), back home.  And every May 9th, I will still light a candle for those affected, because whilst I am far from home, I can never forget what freedom truly means.

Another breed of man

Whilst reading the BBC News website at lunch, as I have a habit of doing at work, I found an article on another (now extinct) breed of man that once lived in Africa.  It suggests that once, there were three species of men living on this Earth, and now, we are the only ones left.  In essence, from what science is now telling us, we are the result of, at least, three separate species, which no doubt mated, interbred and became a new species.

Automatically, as my brain would, I thought of Battlestar Galactica (the modern version, I’m sorry but the original bores me to tears).  I thought of Hera, the young baby, half human, half cylon.  But I also thought of the humans that they also found here on ‘New Earth’ or ‘Earth 2.0’ as some people have referred to it.  Three species that, if you were to believe the BSG version of events, would have interbred to produce us.

When there is talk of Mitochondrial Eve, our earliest known female ancestor to share enough common DNA traits to a modern human, BSG used Hera.  If we take this idea and expand on it, this would mean that Mitochondrial Eve shows aspects of two of our three human ancestor types and therefore is the most alike to us today.  In the BSG universe, Hera did indeed have traits from two of the three.

But what are we now going to find as we look closer at remains that will be uncovered in the future?  Will we find a Mitochondrial Eve 2.0?  One that has traits from the third species as well?  I remember a conversation with a friend a long time ago, where we discussed the notion that all humans living today are related in one shape or form.  That if you were able to go back beyond human record, we’d find that we all came from the exact same human.  If this is the case, then where did the split come from in the species?  Why start as one species, separate into three and then join again as one?  When did the genes of our closest animal brethren (the apes) and ours take a strange mutational departure from each other?

There is a lot we don’t understand about evolution as yet.  Yes we can see the need for adaptation, the way in which those of the human race living in the Northern continents adapted to different climbs than those from the Southern continents, genes mutated and helped us to acclimatise to the places we call home.  But with modern transport, the shift in our own patterns of migration, some of those genetic pre-dispositions are losing the importance they once held.  We are becoming a race, that once again, through evolution is adapting.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s for the better or not, but that is not important right now.

As we continue to evolve, what will we see?  Will we ever truly understand what we evolved from and how we reached where we are now as a species?  Even in watching BSG we only learnt part of the path of evolution as that particular science fiction universe teaches it.  Where did they start off from in the wide expanse of things and where, did the humans on Earth 2.0 start off?

My random thought process might not be coherent as I type this into my blog, but the questions are brimming inside my head, and the comparisons with a show I plan to start re-watching soon are starting to bubble to the surface again.

What it means to be a Sci-Fi fan

I copied this post over from my old blog and updated a part of it slightly because I still think it’s relevant to this one.

So many times I have had people look at me and roll their eyes when they find out I’m a Sci-Fi fan. Why? Because there is a stigmatism attached to being part of the fanbase of a genre that uses science to present us with the make believe. I’ve been called a geek, a freak, a nerd. All of these labels I hold onto with pride and they have long since lost the insult factor people intend them to hold when slung at me. Why? Because quite simply I would rather be a member of Sci-Fi fandom than of any other fandom or group.

Science Fiction has given us more than a lot of other genres have. Take a look at Star Trek, each series has explored something that hasn’t previously been seen on television, and no I’m not just talking about aliens, because, let’s face it, so many shows have done the alien thing. Take a look at the original series, with the casting of Uhura, not only were we given a female character in a lead role, but we were given an African-American female character in a lead role. Whoopi Goldberg is famous for stating that she looked at the screen and yelled something along the lines of “Mama, there’s a black woman on TV and she ain’t no maid” on seeing Nichelle Nichols on her screen.

Take a look at Star Trek The Next Generation, commonly known amongst fans as TNG or Next Gen. There’s one particular episode, entitled “Darmok” in which Captain Jean-Luc Picard encounters a member of a race with whom communication is a problem. The Universal Translators do not work, why? Because not everyone or every race, species, etc, have the same communication systems. It is during the course of this episode that we, the audience, see that Picard is having to learn a different pattern of thought in order to form some form of viable communication with the alien. It’s a challenge thrown out to the audience to make them think about how not everyone thinks in the same way or reacts in the same way. We may or may not have a common language, but communication and understanding are something we can all achieve if we just try.

Both Ronald D Moore’s Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek Voyager gave us women in power. Laura Roslin, the reluctant President of the Twelve Colonies, faced opposition, both to her face and behind her back. In fact the leader of her armed forces as it were, William Adama, called her the Secretary of Education, told his own son that she wasn’t the President and in doing so belittled not only her position but her gender. The script and the concept behind having Laura as President were well thought out and, her struggle reflecting the struggle a woman president would in today’s political environment. We saw her struggle for acceptance and we followed with baited breath, especially when confronted by on/off battle with cancer. We can’t forget that portraying her, we had the wonderful Mary McDonnell, who gave Laura the humanity that is often missing in political leaders and portrayal of political leaders. The same could be said of Kate Mulgrew’s portrayal of Captain Kathryn Janeway in Star Trek Voyager. Another female character that was thrown into a position of power albeit in a different manner. Neither character wanted an entire population on their hands for an elongated period of time and both characters had the potential to become the stereotypical leader we’ve come to expect from their male counterparts. You know the one I’m talking about, the one who charges ahead and without thinking about the consequences goes at it like a bull in a china shop. Instead, thanks to the writers and the actors, the audience found themselves being approached by two very human, and very real people who reluctantly took the mantel of power and caused us to question their decisions just as they did.

Stargate SG-1 was another show that paved the way for strong female characters, as did the X-Files. Both shows gave us smart, intelligent women in the form of Samantha Carter and Dana Scully. Both doctors, one of science, one of medicine, these two women were in a predominantly male world and strove to prove their worth, providing women role models to spur them on and be the best they can be in fields predominantly held by men. Both shows gave us the generic formula of the unbelievable in the sense of aliens and alien cultures but both challenged the way in which we see the world in a subtle but still prominent way.

Battlestar Galactica and its short-lived spinoff Caprica, also presented us with a mirror that challenged our world view. One that when held up to us showed that the human race is capable of destroying itself. Take a look at the Cylons and how they, as the ‘children of man’ revolted against their ‘parents’. Human beings are capable of creating so much, and indeed, in today’s society if we look at the scientific strides being made towards nanotechnology and medical advances, we’re definitely proving that point. But are we really considering the ramifications of what we’re doing? With each robotic/animatronic step forward, are we risking creating a world in which technology ultimately destroys us? Or, in the manner of Star Trek are we stepping towards a future where technology aids us but doesn’t control us? The debate has been laid out in front of us.

Not only are the characters and subject matter in the Sci-Fi genre interesting and well portrayed, causing hours of potential discussion about the decisions made and shown, but the actors that play these parts are well read, interesting and articulate people. Their views are inspiring and their intellect makes you think about how you see things, challenging your views and challenging the way in which you live your life. If you really listen to what the actors have to say you can find yourself thinking, “I never viewed X in that way”, “Maybe I should be more grateful for what I have,” “It’s up to me to make a difference.”

And that difference is something that Sci-Fi fans in general are good at making. During my time in the Sci-Fi fandom I can honestly say that I’ve met not only some of the most inspiring actors and actresses, but I’ve become a part of a group, a family, that not only boosts each other up, but tries to make a difference worldwide. My small corner of the Sci-Fi family has a spirit so generous it still manages to bring me to tears each and every time I reflect upon it. The money raised by those that attend GABIT events is staggering. At AT5, Amanda Tapping’s fan convention, well over 41,000 GBP was raised for charity.  And as Amanda herself has recently informed fans, over $326,000 CAD has been raised since Sanctuary for Kids was founded – in large part by the Sci-Fi community.  Every year fans raise a huge amount in honour of Mary McDonnell’s chosen charities in honour of her birthday and in May 2010, a small group of us (not numbering more than 15) had raised over 1,000 GBP for Alzheimer’s.

On a personal level, Sci-Fi fandom creates a global network of people all willing to support each other, all willing to come to the aid of a friend in crisis. There are smaller families within the larger family, different branches going off in different directions but that connection is there in full force. Like all families there are squabbles and there are differences, but the overwhelming sense of belonging is something that can’t be replaced.

So call me a geek, call me a freak, decide that because I’m a Trekker, a Gater, an X-Phile that I’m not worth your time, but really it doesn’t bother me. I have a global family who understand what it means to be a part of this world, to be enthusiastic and optimistic about what can happen in the world because we’ve been inspired by a realm of possibilities.

A new blog, a fresh start

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.  I always start a new blog and then fail to actually keep up with it.  Not that I expect anyone to be reading this one, but this time, maybe it will work and maybe I’ll keep track of things a little better.

To that end, here is the list of things I hope to accomplish with this blog:

  • Track my progress regarding my as yet untitled novel.  I’m aiming for 1,500 words a day and I want to be able to show that I’ve reached it.  It currently stands at 37,006 words.
  • Have somewhere to post my thoughts regardless of who actually reads them, be it internal dialogue or thoughts on things that have happened and situations that occur.
  • Move the longer more in depth thoughts away from tumblr and, if I desire, link to them there.
  • Write up my book reviews on the materials I have been reading along with thoughts as I go on with them.
  • Keep a record of what I am reading.  A post regarding my reads this year will be forthcoming I have no doubt.
  • Track fundraising events that I have been involved in and advertise others that I think are worth mentioning.

Chances are if you’ve found your way here, you know who I am and that will be enough for me.  If you’ve chanced across the blog and are wondering who I am, that might become clear as I post more things.

For now however, it’s enough to say that I hate doing intro blogs and therefore will stop here for now.