I promised that as members you would receive early access to articles and essays, so here’s one!
Below is a post that I’m sharing on social media later this week, on the commercialisation of LGBTQIA pride, and the similarities between how I feel about that and how I feel about the constant growth of the Star Wars franchise.
It’s a little bit of tongue-in-cheek humour and wordplay, and while it may read like a downer I certainly had fun writing it. If it’s not really your thing then that’s fine, but keep your eyes open next week for a small behind-the-scenes email on the writing process, and how I’m using that system as a positive development tool.
Anyway, here it is…
Lately, I feel the same way about Pride that I do about Star Wars.
When I was a kid, almost no-one I knew had really even heard of Star Wars. When it found me, there was something I instantly loved about the fantastical tone, remarkable content, and sense of a believable and inhabitable universe more vibrant than my own.
Every day after school I would race home for the brief less-than-half-hour when no one else was around. Just enough uninterrupted time on the downstairs television to pick up where I left off and watch as much of the trilogy as possible before I was ushered out of the room in favour of more normal viewing. Then I’d disappear to the attic where me and an array of mismatched toys would write our own Star Wars stories, with me embraced and welcome at the centre.
If I saw the Star Wars logo or even just a similar one, I would race towards it. Nestled in toyshops and bookstores amongst all the stuff that was for everyone else and always had been, Star Wars was mine, something tailored towards me and those few like me. I’d empty my bank account and search every sofa cushion for every spare penny, just to have another piece of that thing that made me feel more like who I was.
Sometimes it wasn’t very good (AT-ST airfix kit I’m looking at you), but it didn’t matter, it was still Star Wars. Sometimes it wasn’t even Star Wars exactly, just something similar enough that I could incorporate aspects of it into that world of wonder and belonging.
I could find Star Wars where Star Wars was never intended.
Now I’m not a kid anymore, and Star Wars is everywhere. There currently are four times as many movies as there were then, with each new release engineered to be a pre-destined summer or winter blockbuster.
The Star Wars logo, still so recognisable, no longer represents a rallying flag to charge towards. It adorns bags of tortilla chips, skate shoes, broadband deals, insurance offers, and sanitary products.
There is no longer a scarcity of Star Wars toys. Every prop and person of that franchise is represented in some consumable, purchasable form. It is a franchise, too. It is a lumbering directionless thing that no longer seems to represent what I found so welcoming and personal about it. Every narrative that could possibly be extracted has been, and stories that have nothing of the magic of that early Star Wars have been allied into a canon of bright lights and no substance.
It was a long time after I needed it that I realised Pride was for me. Not that it was mine to take or purchase, but that it was something that was placed there for me, an open door that said Hey kid, that thing you feel inside you has a name and a way to make sense of it in the world.
Awareness of Pride and LGBTQIA was a point of light in a gloomy near-dark-side that I didn’t know I was falling to, shining me a path past all the things that didn’t quite seem like they were meant for me. Everywhere I saw it or felt its influence I felt more like myself, briefly picked up and embraced.
Now, every supermarket has an official sandwich of Pride. The lightest side of the LGBTQIA rainbow shines with money, not warming light, and companies who build factories in countries where I’d have to hide who I am fund politicians who seek to curtail my rights while busily telling me that we’re in some sort of Alliance together.
The welcoming doors to that inhabitable universe no longer seem to exist in the clear, purposeful way that they once did. The flag of Pride is like the Star Wars logo, slapped on the side of everything and nothing. It is more of an annoyance than a welcoming embrace, a trick of the light that flies at half-mast in a consumerist galaxy no longer that far away.
I don’t swell with Pride when I see Star Wars any more. I don’t feel The Force when I see Pride.
P.S. Remember, as a member of my community, only you will get the opportunity to pick up 500ish Days In The Quiet Room at a scarily low introductory price, and after launch only you will get a digital copy of the companion collection All Better Now, absolutely free!