We want our community and all others like it to be safe, constructive, positive spaces and we think our vision is possible. – Positive Fandom page, The Harry Potter Alliance
One thing I have learned through my involvement with The Harry Potter Alliance is that there is no right way to be a fan. More importantly, being a fan and (or) a geek is becoming less isolated and less stereotyped. Anyone can be a fan, there are no requirements regarding attending conventions, writing fanfiction, wearing costumes, or “fangirling” over celebrities. Being a fan comes in a bunch of different forms and, since each fan owns their fanship, it can be however they want it to be. There is no such thing as not being enough of a fan in my opinion. If all you do is read and watch Harry Potter, then that’s enough in my opinion.
The worst thing a fan can do is make another casual fan feel like they aren’t enough of a fan to call themselves a fan. That’s not exactly a good way to foster inclusivity, now is it. Being a fan is finally fun; being a fan means that I have a legitimate excuse to talk about Harry Potter and social activism in interviews because of The Harry Potter Alliance. Harry Potter is the reasons that I have met some of my friends, even if we hardly ever talk about it.
It wasn’t that long ago that I thought there was something wrong with being a fan. Other kids used to tease me for liking Star Wars and I can’t even begin to imagine what the big deal was. If I wasn’t “”cool enough for them, they could have just left me alone. I grew up and became involved in the Harry Potter Alliance and realized what being a fan could be like in a positive way. The problem arises when you feel pressured to be a different kind of fan or like you’re not enough of a fan.
The worst part is when you hear about people being pushed out of fandoms through negative experiences given to them by other fans; being shamed for liked liking a new romance on a popular TV show or not liking a main character. Half of the fun in being a fan and joining the fan community is that you can talk to other people about that show (movie, book, etc.) and other people care and want to talk to you about the nuances. This doesn’t even have to be about Harry Potter and Star Wars, we could include football and hockey, they might not be stereotyped as being dorks and “weirdos”, but they’re still fans and the community still applies.
Needless to say, I like that The Harry Potter Alliance collaborated and set up these wonderful guidelines for a positive fan community. It’s nice to see shows like The Big Bang Theory that shows being a fan and a geek or nerd in a more positive light. It’s kind of cool to see how popular culture has begun to embrace the fandoms it creates instead of allowing them to be stereotyped. Hopefully someday the bullying and exclusion that you still find online and in-person, intended or not, will disappear. It’s just something to think about.