Kage Baker was one of the shyest people I ever knew. Her premier fashion choice, had it been possible, would have been invisibility.
Two things assisted her in dealing with it: online communities and conventions. (Faire helped, too, but most of the time there, she was someone else.)
There is a wonderful phenomenon that happens at cons. People are so primed to meet the dreamers, the artists, the writers, that they look for them actively. Everyone reads name tags. Everyone is delighted to recognize a favourite author, a popular editor or a truly enthusiastic fan. Heck, you can get public acclaim just by always showing up in a good costume – talent, verve, skill, even obsession are all lauded and appreciated at a con.
People were thrilled to see Kage. She never got over the wonder of that. She never stopped being grateful for it, either.
I am not the public figure Kage was – I’m her surviving sister; who – oh, yeah – has also written a few things. And there is this blog, which has apparently gotten more notice than I ever anticipated. But WOW! I got greeted by people everywhere I went, and only a few were from Faires! Faire and cons overlap a lot, so there have always been old friends to see. What stunned me today were the strangers.
It may have been helped by my name tag. To the embarrassment of the Registration staff, my name got split into two lines. One reads “Kathleen Bartholome”. The second line, neatly centered, reads “w”. Just “w”. However, I like it – it turns a typo into potential found art. It makes people look longer at my tag. And so it gets me recognized: which delights me, and gives everyone else a good laugh.
Things like that are wonderful. There is a concerted effort at Cons to stand out, to be seen, to proclaim yourself, or your chosen race ( today I saw a merqueen, a Klingon and too many animal ears to count) or your favourite food – I once saw someone I think was the Meat of the Day, resplendent and serene in a “parsley” decked wheel chair.
People here are so happy to be themselves: whatever that may be. They’re happy to see whatever you are too, which is a tolerance all too rare …
As the New Radicals so aptly put it: Wake up, kids: you’ve got the dreamers’ disease
Ain’t it great?