Posts Tagged ‘ secret or public ’

the importance of community

i was hanging out in chat last night when a new person showed up. they were rather shy, wanting to talk with people about vampirism, not really daring to ask what was on their mind. we coaxed it out of them, with questions, jokes, links, snake feet*, opinions, guesses… in friendly chat fashion, as it were. they found that they were able to open up, to talk about their deep desire to drink another human’s blood, about the apparent impossibility of finding somebody who might let them do so; fairly common issues which most young blood-drinkers go through.

of course we couldn’t tell them that they are or are not a vampire; it is really only oneself who can decide what one is, after careful and prolonged introspection, and possibly some experiments with consuming blood and observing the effects it has on one. but i think the important element came much later, when they said what an incredible relief it was to be able to speak with people about wanting to drink blood and not to be seen as some kind of monster.

that, to me, is an incredibly important point. we, almost all of us, including a good number of donors, grew up different. what exactly the difference was varies. how exactly we experienced our difference varies too. but most of us got confronted with the idea that we are somehow wrong, we’ve been called sinful, and abominations, we’ve been told we are impossible, that we can’t exist, that we’re insane. many of us have experienced violence and live in fear because of our difference, and at the same time have been told or made to believe that we are dangerous, that we are monsters.

almost everybody who is different enough goes through this kind of experience; depending on where you live even a fairly small difference is enough to make you an outcast. for vampires with their need for blood (and to a lesser degree energy) the difference is huge, it confronts their surrounding society with some deeply embedded taboos. i know very few vampires who have not assimilated at least in part their social prohibitions against blood, who do not think themselves at least in part evil for what they do.

what the vampire community does is provide a space where it is okay for us, vampires and donors, to be what we are. where we can talk openly about our desires and needs, or at least where we can learn to be more free about what we say. it allows us a space to carefully examine what is going on with us, where our experiences aren’t just rejected with a blanket “that is bad” attitude. perhaps this sounds incredibly cliché, but it gives us a place where we can be ourselves. within the vampire community, we are normal, our experiences are shared and common. it gives us a space where we aren’t defined by our difference from everybody else, but where we can become self-defined and differentiated individuals.***

of course for a community to function this way it must be at least partially out. there’s going to have to be some – probably self-selected – spokes-people, some groups are going to have to take the brunt of being publicly different from the rest of society. these people and groups are often reviled, they are perceived as rocking the boat, of disturbing the peace, of making it more dangerous for everybody else who shares their difference. i can honestly understand that attitude; you’ve carefully figured out a way to fit in with society as best as you can, of minimizing the apparent difference, of appearing normal. and suddenly a sensationalist news report highlights exactly those differences which you’ve been trying to minimise. it can be a real danger, you might not be able to stand being outed, the consequences might well be unsupportable, be they economic or social or psychological.

but i still believe that having a visible community, that having places where people like our new friend in chat can go, that having spaces where we can openly explore who we are, that those things are such an advantage to so many people that they are worth the consequences of making some people a bit more visible who would have preferred not to be visible.

some people may take offence at my use of “we” in this post – i am after all not a vampire, i have a choice about being here. but i use the “we” as a full member of the vampire community. i also use “we” as a member of any other community which is significantly different from society – as a gay person, a trans person, a person dealing with mental illness; all of them situations and conditions which carry that same weight of being different which vampirism does, all of which are fighting their own struggles for acceptance, together with many other different people, all at different places in their progress. i believe that, in the current circumstances, both of those arguments allow me to use “we”.

*”snake feet” are a concept from John Crowley’s novel “Engine Summer”, they refer to dead ends in the labyrinthine structure of Little BelAir, leading from “Path” which goes all the way to its centre, but not going anywhere, but also to apparently significant parts of a story which, for the character the story is being told about, don’t go anywhere. Crowley** writes wonderful novels combining sci-fi, fables, and fairy-tales.

**J. Crowley, not to be confused with A. Crowley.

***of course within the community there will also be pressure to conform, but it is combined with an automatic lesson that one doesn’t need to conform.

should the vampire community be secret?

there is an ongoing discussion in the various vampire communities about whether the vampire community should be out or should remain secret. opinions on the subject vary wildly, and emotions run high.* however, the cat is pretty much out of the bag, and whatever our individual positions are we have to deal with a growing public awareness of real vampirism.

the following is very slightly adapted from something i wrote on the smoke and mirrors message board,** and outlines my own position on being out.

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