Five years ago today, my mother met me after work and we went out to see my coworker’s husband play a St. Patrick’s Day gig with his band. Realizing that we didn’t frequently get a chance to have a night out, just the two of us, Mom and I snuck out of the gig early. For lack of any better idea, we decided on seeing a film and I called the cinema to find out what was playing. I vaguely remembered seeing an ad for one of the titles, that it’d looked good, and it was opening that night, so we decided to see it.
The film was V for Vendetta.
Strange how such a small and seemingly random chain of events can utterly change the course of one’s life.
It wasn’t any one thing about the film that had me bouncing out of the theatre that night (and returning to see it ten more times). From the film’s message about the value of questioning one’s government and standing up when you feel it’s gone wrong, to the gorgeous visuals and soundtrack, to V’s alliterative speech that sent shivers down my English major spine…
…I connected strongly and immediately to V and his story. Mom was…less hyper.
Because I have a tendency to be drawn to interests that no one in my Real World shares (or at least, not as strongly and obsessively), at university I quickly learned an excellent way to retain my sanity: seek out like-minded folk on the Internet. By the time V entered my life, going online didn’t take a second thought.
And there they were, on the IMDb message boards: trolls and people picking fights over nothing – complete with atrocious grammar and spelling. But hidden amongst them, genuine pearls. Women who were intelligent, geeky, funny, and shared my view of V as a shmexy man (we may never see his face, but that intellect, wit, love of art and literature, sense of justice, and ability with a blade? Yes, please. From Batman to Rorschach, I’ve always adored a good antihero.).
It took less than a week for someone to say, “Y’know, maybe we should just start our own message board and continue this conversation over there.”
From that idle comment was born The Ladies of the Shadow Gallery, founded on March 24, one week after the film’s opening night: a global community of V for Vendetta fans of all ages, many walks of life, and yes, both sexes (though the men were, admittedly, in the minority). We were never a huge group, our genuine membership topping out around 100, but we favored quality over quantity. And we had the former in abundance.
As time passed, we naturally lost members as Life intervened and they moved on to other interests. And though many of us deepened our connection through other shared interests, we still never expected the forum to last as long as it did: a full three years before I considered it truly defunct. As someone who’s not used to having a really good friendship last longer than perhaps a school year, it amazes me to remember that the moment I met some of the Vendetta Vixens (as we called ourselves), I just knew that I’d finally found friends who were going to be a part of my life for a very long time to come. And here we are, five years later.
Still, I gained much more than “just” an online community from my Veekiness (V-geekiness).
It’s because of V that I met (among so many others) Leda, iseult, and my housemate of four years (next month). In November 2007, I travelled 8000 miles to observe Guy Fawkes Day in London with a group of wonderful people – from the US, the UK, and even our adorable Danish “resident animated emote artist” – who up to then had only been names on my computer screen. Earlier that year, shortly after moving in with my housemate, I stumbled across Uncommon Knowledge’s fantastic sites during a Google search I firmly believe I was unlikely to have performed while living closer to my family, I was then so “closeted” in my hypnosis interest (yes, it was silly, I agree). By a branching chain of events, this afforded me the opportunity to break off from the holidaying Vixens for a day and meet Mark Tyrrell in person at his office in Brighton.
It’s because of living with my housemate that I’ve had opportunities like living in Oceanside with regular trips to Disneyland (where I was training her as my padawan in the Secrets of the Mouse), seeing David Tennant and Patrick Stewart perform Hamlet in Stratford-upon-Avon (2008), meeting a great group of friends here in Minnesota (both her long-standing circle and some I’ve found on my own), attending CONvergence and the Ren Fest, and other things too numerous to list.
It’s because of V directly, the friends he brought me, and (semi-)related events since that I’ve made so many homosexual, bisexual, polyamorous, and transvestite/-gender/-sexual friends, it no longer surprises me for even a second when a new acquaintance comes out to me. I’ve learned more about the LGBTQ community in the past five years than I had in the previous 27 and have developed an even stronger commitment to help them in any way I can. I’ve even been Best (Wo)Man at a bi-poly wedding!
And, of course, it’s because I found Uncommon Knowledge that my interest in psychology and hypnosis was reawakened, and that I and everyone I know have benefited in one way or another from their products. During that aforementioned Brighton meeting, I got to experience my first in-person, one-to-one hypnosis session. I have the opportunity to be helpful to a company (and people) I admire via editing, and have been set on a new educational/career path, including finally having the opportunity and “excuse” to pursue training in hypnosis.
And on and on… one event leading to another event or person or shift in perspective…
The older I get, the more I am aware of the chain of dominoes that have fallen and are yet to fall to form the image of the woman I am and will be.
And it is my unshakeable belief that much of the last five years link back to one specific domino.
Happy Vth anniVersary, V. And thank you.