So uh… I wasn’t expecting to win the Ignyte Award for Critics in 2021. Part of it, is that I don’t expect anything really and this way I get to be pleasantly surprised in the end.
The other thing is that the past two years have been a hell so upsetting that it has been hard to believe in myself and the power of my community. I’ve done my best work, tried to be my best self – but a lot of times, the reaction has been frankly horrific harassment including dogpiling, spammy comments, and successful attempts at destroying and disrupting my life/career.
So far, the only thing I haven’t gotten have been death threats. There’s been at least one false police report filed (according to the person who filed it), different kinds of slurs, and still-active attempts to destroy my reputation and career. But not death threats… yet.
All because people think I care… about what sort of fictional characters they want to see kiss on the mouth.
But that’s really not why I do this. Any of this.
My early time in fandom, as a tadpole, was great. I was able to “just” vibe. Most of my active experience with fandom has actually been great. But as I started to recognize for myself what racism – something I was dealing with offline – looked like in the fandom spaces that I loved, I realized that… fandom wasn’t a space where we got to talk about that.
It was okay to be racist in minor and major ways in fandom. People could write stories where characters of color were brutalized, harass actors of color, write slurs to fans of color… And people of color who spoke out about it and the presence of racism in fanworks and the source media were always punished.
Even by other people of color.
So I was seeing this, and even from back then, I knew it’d happen to me. It’s been happening to me. But I always felt, even as it escalated and my reputation got attacked by racist liars and their friends of color crowing about how they were able to hurt me, that I had to just keep writing. Even if it felt like no one saw what I was doing with my work or what was being done to me in the name of “freedom (to be a racist) in fandom”, I needed to keep writing and talking about what fandom has been like for so many of us over the years. Because someone had to do it and at the time, there weren’t that many people who could.
I wrote so much over the years because I didn’t know who else could. I wrote about a quarter of a million words of content last year alone, over a million words of content since 2015. I started paying people for guest posts so I could put my (limited) money where my mouth was and make it possible for other fans of color to speak on this platform I’ve built for myself.
And… I quietly dealt with racist harassment on a scale I hadn’t dealt with – until this year actually when everyone joined together for a multi-fandom racist hate voltron. But I kept going because someone had to talk about what this shit looks like and who it’s coming from. (And again, wildly, it’s never been cishet white dudes who had me in their sights…)
Things have been tough. I’ve talked about the scary harassment campaigns other people are running because they think racism is THAT important to their fandom experience. I talked about all of the really bad, weird, and RACIST shit people have said and done to me in the name of protecting their fandom experience from… anti racism.
And it was isolating. It was scary.
It still is both of those things.
However… I started hearing more from other fans of color in different fandoms.
Other people who have been struggling to find and hold onto their fun in fandom, other writers who want to be better at what they do, other people who have also felt alone in the different fandom spaces they inhabited. People sent me DMs, sent me emails, left me comments here. They got in touch to let me know how my work moved them. How it helped them. How it kept them afloat and kept them hopeful.
2020 was the first year I felt seen and really… like what I was doing mattered on a larger scale. And that’s just carried over to 2021.
The Ignyte Awards nomination was huge. It is huge.
Winning the Critic Award… I know it won’t change the way my haters view me. They’ll move the goal posts, make phony claims that I did something evil and nasty to get the nomination and the win. They’ll harass people who support me and spread more lies they can’t back up. They still won’t care about racism in fandom when I talk about it because I’m not “nice”. They’ll still harass me while crying wolf when I bite back – or if they think I have.
But… I’m starting to realize that it’s okay.
Because I’m not writing for them.
I’m writing for a better future and a better fandom where people can have their “weird shit” (it’s really not that weird, though) and open and honest discussions about the very real things that bother them too.
And if someone doesn’t like that?
They don’t have to read it.
Because my work is not fucking for them.