January 6th, 2020

audrey [oh babe]

Snowflake Challenge #2 - Talk About Your Fannish History

Oh man, fannish history. I touched on it a little in my last post? Buffy, bulletin boards, mailing lists, etc.

My family was a very early adopter of at-home dial-up internet, which is saying something in rural Appalachian Tennessee in the 90's. My mother worked remotely, and dial-up was a work expense. Being young, feisty, and technically-minded, I became the family sysadmin by default when I was twelve; by the time I was thirteen every minute that wasn't spent in some extracurricular activity -- or, worse, when my mother was working on the computer, or other family members wanted to use the internet [!!!] was spent slavishly devoted to our good ol' Mac PowerPC.

Below, a select early cut from my fandom history.

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You have no idea how nostalgic I am writing this down. Those chatrooms were my ur-fandom: hours and hours just gaming down with randoms from all over the country. I look back now and I was so, so lucky: I was definitely a minimum of five years younger than any other person there, because at 12/13 my writing and speech patterns masked my age; generally people seemed to think I was in my twenties, and my age was a secret I hoarded like a jealous dragon. I was a queer as fuck neuroatypical AFAB tweeny kid from bumfuck Appalachia -- all my worldly knowledge came from the easily thousands of books I consumed with the desperation of a dehydrated Ent. And I unfailingly read as if I was in my early twenties, which was all I longed to be from pretty much the ages of 12 to 19.

Those AOL chat rooms gave me life, and creativity, and exposure to other humans who, somehow, from the magic of Roddenberry's utopian philosophy in Star Trek, treated me like a person, not some know-it-all kid whose closest friend was the librarian. (I joke, I kid; those librarians side-eyed me like the worst church ladies, and I worked to deserve it.)

I found a passion for the ethics of Star Trek that rivaled my own; a dedication and determination to tabletop storytelling that humbled any hubris as a writer I might have been developing; compassion and kinshsip in private chats when I said I was queer for the first time to another person. It wasn't that I found an escape, although it assuredly was escapism -- it was that I found the rest of the world out there, in Star Trek (and Star Wars) AOL RPG chats in the 90's. And that world that I was so desperate and hungry for saw me, and accepted me, and welcomed me; and said: go for it, kid. Be whoever you want to be, not only in the Trekverse, but in the real three-dimensional world, too. Make the 'verse bend around you, even if you only show your colours later in life. It doesn't make them any less true.

Like I said, I got lucky. I never experienced manipulation or predation online, as a tweenager in those early internet days. And as I grew out of what AOL and its Trek-Warsian RPG chats could offer, I stumbled naturally into fanfiction, and from fanfiction into my deeply beloved Buffy message board. It was twenty years ago that I found my Buffy people, my [personal profile] minim_calibre and all who came with. (I can't effectively recall who is on DW and who is not, but know that I adore you none the lesser for it.)

More than two-thirds of my life has been defined, enriched, and elevated by fandom. It is the gift of this life, for me.