1. This was our first week of no-jacket weather in Boston and it has changed my mood entirely. My friends Lisa and Christine are coming tonight to drink rose and eat oysters and I bought four pairs of shorts and started making a list of fun stuff I want to do this summer (basically: drink rose, eat oysters, wear shorts?). My new anxiety management strategy is saying “I DON’T CARE ABOUT THAT!” out loud in a snotty voice, and it is actually really working!
2. Every year around this time I feel a deep physical need to read a Nora Roberts book, so that is what I am doing right, now. Nora books are so tidy! Everyone accomplishes tasks and falls in love so efficiently! Also, listening to The Raven King, which has rubbed my nerves so raw I kind of can’t be in it for more than a few minutes at a time? I mean that as a compliment. I have a lot to learn from that series.
3. This article about Kerry Washington expertly managing her own publicity, which was fascinating, and this twitter thread of Dahlia Adler’s about what we do or do not require writers to share about themselves, which made me think.
4. My new office bookshelves which (and if it sounds like I am bragging it is because I am bragging) my husband built with his own two hands WHILE I WAS ON VACATION. Whenever somebody says something dickish about YA/high school romances from now on I am going to whip out a picture of these bookshelves, point out that my high school boyfriend built them for me at the age of thirty-one, and then I am going to add that he also stuck an orchid on my desk, which he did.
5. I was on vacation seeing Beyonce, who was obviously and of course amazing and I felt lucky and honored just to be there. I also felt like a guest at someone else’s house, which made me think a lot about this short essay about loving things that are not meant for you which my friend Emery Lord sent to me as part of Ladies + Fandom and which I never posted until now because I am a garbage person. Enjoy, and happy Friday! I love you a lot.
But I’ve never written fanfiction. I didn’t even know what it was until a few years ago. I’ve never been to a fandom con or cosplayed. (Wait…I did dress up as Britney to see Britney perform in Vegas, if that counts!) The things I love don’t have fandoms the way, say, Marvel comics does. Or maybe they do, and it’s just that I’m not interested in that way. I love spin class but I don’t feel the need to participate in any kind of culture other than showing up to class. I love really well-roasted coffee and chocolate with unusual ingredients. I love design blogs and short stories and a lot of indie bands that I’ll see if they’re anywhere in the vicinity of my city.
So, I was going to fill out my survey about RuPaul’s Drag Race, which is perhaps the closest I get to participating in a fandom. (One of my best friends wrote this incredible piece about why Drag Race is the best, and he articulates it better than I could.) Drag Race lends itself to fandom; with its abundant catchphrases and inside jokes. This year, I watched the finale at a drag bar with my husband, and then got to see the queens perform in Chicago.
Drag Race is my ideal world, really. People from all different backgrounds, a huge range of ages and backgrounds coming together over art and identity. Humor and grit. Then add a LOT of fake lashes and glitter. And the truth is. I relate deeply to a lot of the guys. Many of them are channeling pain into art, into character. It’s what I do with writing, so it feels familiar to me, and inspiring. I knew I was hooked when Ben DeLaCreme shared that having a drag character helps nudge him away from depression. This part, I relate to.
I’ve been thinking about it a lot with Beyonce releasing Formation this weekend. The song and video are by, about, and for Black girls. I think it’s fine for other people to enjoy it! But this powerful, intentional show of Black womanhood? White people can’t interact with it the same way.
When you are not part of the marginalized community that art is depicting, you can’t connect with it the same way. Bottom line.
So, that’s my fandom struggle. How to love something without taking anything from a community it belongs to more. How to support it without overstepping. I don’t have concrete answers about how this is done. What I’ve got is: don’t try to dominate the narrative. Acknowledge that you view it through a lens of privilege. What else? I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on this!