I've never had a family quite like the Supernatural Family.
Sure, like all families, we have our disagreements. Our fights. Our weirdoes. We have those we're close to, those we see once a year at family reunions, those whom our parents make us write graduation and wedding invites to even though we don't know them and they don't know us.
But despite all that, we have this amazing bond. A bond that allows us to pay back the love and generosity of the cast and crew in spades.
Don't believe me?
Look at GISHWHES. Look at IMALIVE. Look at AKF. Look at Wayward Daughters.
We as a family have created movements to better the world for us and for the generations after us. And that's a pretty freaking amazing thing.
When I started watching SPN in college, around the beginning of season 8, I had no real concept of fandom or what fandom could be like. I had been a fan, yeah, a diehard fan, sure. Harry Potter had taken over my life when I was in elementary and middle school and Doctor Who and Sherlock pretty much defined my high school years. I had been to midnight release parties for Harry Potter with other fans dressed up and eagerly awaiting the next installment of Harry’s adventures. I'd discussed fan theories with friends and family about Doctor Who and read fanfiction (gasp) on the Internet (oh the scandal!).
But I never experienced “fandom” the way I do with the SPNFamily.
Growing up, there was no Twitter or Facebook or Instagram or Tumblr. I was mostly alone with my books, my only “fandom” interaction being those Harry Potter parties, and even surrounded by fans in costume discussing their theories and favorite characters, I felt shut out (later I would realize this was mostly due to social anxiety). In school I was bullied for being passionate about anything. Caring was stupid, and was even stupider when it was about things that weren't “real.”
So imagine how it felt meeting an entire community that embraced their passion for these characters and this world, and not only embraced it, but wore it proudly, unashamed to tell the world about it and then used that passion to effect positive change in the world around them.
I watched from the sidelines at first, unsure of where I could jump in, unsure if I could jump in. Everything was so new to me and I was afraid of embarrassing myself. I still am in many ways, but I've learned that our family can be incredibly forgiving sometimes because we're all human and we accept that.
The deeper I got into the SPN Family, the more I felt at home. These were my people. This was my tribe. Sure I wasn't going to get along with everyone, but who gets along with everyone in their own family?
This fandom has given me so much. Friendships, relationships, loves. This fandom has taught me to love myself, flaws and all, and to not judge myself based on other people. It's taught me to embrace my weird, be wayward AF, and to always keep fighting the darkness inside my mind. Because I am the captain of my own story and no one gets to take that away from me. Not even me.
I am so incredibly grateful to this family, this ragtag group of people joined by something so simple as a television show. And I hope that I can give back even one small iota of what they've given me.
To be honest, I used to see the world as a glass half-empty, and even now it's still hard not to see it that way with the fear and hate we see so constantly around us.
But we as a family have the power to combat that with pure love and understanding and acceptance.
I watch the campaigns through Stands and Represent and I see a community wanting to change the world and help it achieve its potential. Through the power of shirts, yes the humble shirt, we have been able to further the cause of mental health, establish a volunteer crisis line, save animals from euthanasia and rehabilitate them and their handlers, build schools in countries where education is a hard-won privilege, help Syrian refugee families in need, establish a scholarship for deaf students and so many other things that would take hours to list.
We did that. We as a family did that. And we will do so much more. Because we don't back down from a challenge. We see an opportunity to change the world and we seize it and surpass ALL expectations.
I'm going to borrow from a great visionary, Mr. Gene Roddenberry, who said: “A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head-on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away.”
The SPN Family taught me to meet life head-on and challenge it.
What has it taught you?