The first time I told my mom that I was thinking about doing cosplay at Ottawa ComicCon, she tried her best to hide her shock (and possibly some slight judgement). You see, while it had been well established that I was a high achieving nerd in graduate school with an obsessive relationship to television, and though I’d come out about my identity as queer, I still harboured a secret: I am a geek. My geek identity is something still feels new and unsure to me, it was something I didn’t even know about myself for a long time.
My gateway to geekdom was genre television. As a child, I remember crawling into my Dad’s bed after dinner where we would watch Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space Nine. When I was in middle school it was the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In high school, I added Angel to the mix. As an undergrad I became even more obsessed, adding Firefly (do you see a theme yet?), Lost, Smallville, Jeremiah, Doctor Who, and Torchwood, to name a few. As shows I loved came to a close, I had a hard time letting go. I started turning to comic book continuations of shows that I loved, starting with Angel: After the Fall, then Buffy Season 8 (and now 9!). From there, I started to branch out to comics beyond the Whedonverse. I read the Watchmen, and started picking up a number of indie books from the local comic book shop.
But its not just tv and books. The first year my partner and I lived to get other we spent out extra OSAP money on two Nintendo DS lites that were on sale at EB Games. I’m 95% certain that all of our extra money that year was spent on DS games. A year later, we bought a Wii. When the 3DS came out I upgraded as soon as we had the money for it, and we preordered the Wii U. Recently, my partner and I have turned to a love of table top gaming, a hobby that helps us spend quality time together. We get excited about new episodes of Tabletop, and we make lists and charts of games we want to buy.
Now I spend time thinking about collectibles that I want to buy, and scouring Etsy for geeky handmade things. I spend my free time watching old shows or playing old games that I missed out on. I argue with my partner about what the coolest super power is, or what the ultimate sci-fi show is. Beside my stuffy academic books and my thesis I now proudly display our growing collection of comics and vinyl figures..
But its still not always easy. I didn’t go to ComicCon in cosplay. Why not? I still worry sometimes about how I will be received, both inside and outside of the geek community. Though I can handle the thought of mockery from those outside the community, I particularly worry about the sting of rejection from those inside it. I worry about how my first attempt at cosplay won’t be very good, and people will make feel bad for its lack of authenticity. I worry that the guy standing beside me rifling through comics will judge me when I primarily choose television tie-in comics. I feel uncomfortable when queer academic me wants to speak out about the depiction of gender in comics, genre television and movies and others shoot me down or tell me that I’m overreacting. I feel invisible when I don’t see out and proud geeks or out and proud characters in geek media.
But these discomforts are easily forgotten in the excitement of sharing something that you love. Discussing the latest episode of a new show I love, opening the cover of a new book or comic, punching out the pieces for a new board game is exciting. That knowing exchange of smiles when two people wearing geeky shirts pass each other brightens up my day. This passion extends beyond the people I pass on the street every day as well. At Ottawa ComicCon in May of this year, I nervously approached Felicia Day for an autograph and to thank her for inspiring me to pursue a career I am actually passionate about. She told me I had cool hair and said she didn’t think she could pull it off, and in that moment I wasn’t thinking about any of those worries that I have, I was just thinking about how Felicia Day might look with the sides of her head shaved.
The passion of people in the geek community inspires me every day to keep being honest and open about the things I love, and to pursue my own passions and dreams even when others might think they are weird.