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02 August 2007 @ 03:21 pm
Fandom: Who Am I in an Anonymous World?  
If you're in fandom and read Metafandom, Fandom_Wank or any Harry Potter-related community or personal journal on LiveJournal, then you're probably aware of the discussion of race, racially charged language and fandom that has been happening over the last several days. (If not, then the links above are well worth reading, even if you're not into Harry Potter.)

A lot has been said. A lot needed to be said. And a lot shouldn't have been said. But the devil you know, and all that.

When I first came online in June 1997, I was anonymous. From reading UseNet on a friend's computer, I was already aware not to divulge personal information about myself. Never give out a name or e-mail to anyone you might meet; if you've got to provide an e-mail, then use Hotmail or Yahoo!, not your ISP. Armed with that foreknowledge, I ventured off into the great, wide world of those heady, early days of internet fandom.

To anyone I met on the 'net, I was only my words. I could have been male or female, young or old, fat or thin. It was easy to be me -- whoever that was. No one made assumptions. Words were the only currency.

For me, online fandom has always been an escape from the real world; a chance to meet with and talk to people who share the same interests. But when I ventured to fannish meet-ups or cons (like Media*West, Eclecticon and Long-Range Desert Convention), I have been struck by how few fen of color there are. And I've always found it disheartening. When I consider fandom, it's this great big umbrella where all of us who march to the beat of our own drum can congregate, feeling welcome, safe and secure. I've never viewed it as a place where racism or racist behaviour rears its ugly head, or where such behaviour is tolerated.

We'd all like to believe the best about ourselves, but what if I'm not at my best? If words are the only thing by which you can judge me, how do I know if what I'm saying isn't somehow tainted by something I'm not even aware of? How do you know me? How do I make you know me? If I'm wrong, how do I learn to be better? How much of myself must I reveal to the world at large, when I've always believed that being anonymous makes us all equal? If I'm wrong, are you willing to teach me?
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