OPINION: Fandoms reject newcomers, deny enjoyment

By Kaleen Luu

A fan is an enthusiast or admirer of a particular franchise.

Notable fandoms that spring to my mind are Supernatural, Doctor Who, Star Wars and the one I personally claim membership to—the Harry Potter franchise.

Man, I freaking love Harry Potter.

Honestly, it’s a lifestyle.

Everything I do relates to it, and I admit it can kind of seem a little crazy sometimes.

I’m that person at parties that is mentally telling myself, “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it,” but the first thing that comes out of my mouth is, “What’s your Hogwarts house?”

So yes, for me Harry Potter is kind of synonymous with ‘The Greatest Thing Ever.’

I love meeting people who are also way too invested.

I could spend hours talking about the books (minus Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but that’s a whole other story…) and not to be dramatic, but I would probably equate the feeling of meeting other super fans to meeting a soulmate.

There’s a connection.

That’s not to say I only care about other people who are as into Harry Potter as I am, however.

It’s still equally exciting to meet someone who is at least open to the idea of becoming more invested.

My heart still sings when I meet someone and they tell me, “I’m not a super big fan, but I like the series and  I’ve watched all the movies. Hufflepuff is my house.”

It makes me sad that people feel compelled to put a disclaimer before announcing they’re a part of something.

It shouldn’t matter the ‘level’ of fan one is, all fans are here for the same one thing—their love for the series.

But I get it.

There is nothing more off-putting than when I want to start to watch a new TV show I’m interested in, but hit the wall of gatekeepers.

Those gatekeepers guard their fandom so strictly and tightly, one would swear that whatever fandom they were a part of was a government secret.

I’ll say I’m a fan of Star Wars, for example, and the gatekeepers will descend upon me like vultures swarming their long-awaited prey.

These people will bombard any newcomers with trivia questions to ‘test’ their knowledge and love and scoff at anyone in the galaxy who dares say they’re a fan but doesn’t know what lies below the Jedi Temple on Coruscant.

It’s really so aggravating and I want to scream every time this happens.

People are allowed to like things others like.

People are allowed to be a part of something others love, even if its not to the same degree.

I would like for everyone to please get that into their head, or may the force be with them when I say that they’re ruining the fandom.

It’s honestly to the point where I’m afraid to admit I like some things because I don’t want to be quizzed to death or looked down upon because “I’m not qualified to call myself a real fan.”

Gatekeeping is only preventing people from possibly falling as deeply in love with the same thing as others are.

There is no test of being a fan. Remember, every fan is here connected by their love for the same thing. It shouldn’t matter when someone started being a fan or their knowledge of trivia.

Yes, friends who are witches and wizards, squibs and muggles alike are all welcome here.

I don’t need fans to know what’s so important about turning to page 394 or even why the Slytherin house is the best one, as long as everybody agrees Albus Dumbledore looks good in the new Fantastic Beasts movie.

Stop gatekeeping beloved fandoms.

I know it’s important to protect what’s sacred, but open those doors to the world that could be.

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