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This Week in Fandom, Volume 75

Welcome to This Week in Fandom, the OTW’s roundup of things which are happening! Before we start, Joss Whedon’s Firefly is being continued as a series of novels. Tell us if you’re excited for it in the comments!

Happy #28DaysOfBlackCosplay! As Syfy Wire summarizes, #28DaysOfBlackCosplay takes place throughout February alongside Black History Month, and it is meant to bring positive visibility to black cosplayers and draw attention not just to black history but also to black fans’ present-day accomplishments. Cosplayer Chaka Cumberbatch-Tinsley began the month-long movement in 2015, and it’s taken place annually across social media and fannish communities ever since.

But there’s something truly heartbreaking about not being included in a community that, let’s be honest, is a home for outcasts. Geeks know what it’s like to be seen as something outside the norm, so a lot of black geeks feel at home in the space. But when you’re greeted with negativity or just flat out ignored, it gets lonely, and that loneliness morphs into frustration when you’re told that there just aren’t any black people involved in the hobby you love.

Fortunately, #28DaysOfBlackCosplay was made to counter that argument. It instantly negates any “they just aren’t here” argument, as every year, it becomes a trending hashtag in just a couple of hours. More importantly, we’re seen engaging in cosplay for the very same reason anyone else stays up way too late to get that final costume piece done: for the love of the character, the fun of the craft, and the blood from sticking yourself with a needle one too many times.

One fan writes on The Glow Up about finding a place for herself in fandom through #28DaysOfBlackCosplay. Briana Lawrence describes “being labeled ‘white’ and finding camaraderie among the white nerds who ‘don’t see color,’ just Pokémon cards” at first, only to encounter casual racism from those same friends later on. “But over the years, with movements like #28DaysOfBlackCosplay, I had an epiphany: I was never the lone black kid. The first year of the movement was a chorus of, ‘Where have y’all been all my life?!’ We’d embrace each other and say, ‘Right here.’”

Meanwhile, the hashtag has been filling up social media sites with solidarity and positive representation.

Share your favorite finds with us in the comments!

On a less happy note, fans are reacting with anger to director David Yates’s reveal that Albus Dumbledore will “not explicitly” be portrayed as gay in the upcoming Fantastic Beasts film The Crimes of Grindelwald, as announced in Entertainment Weekly. The news comes only two months after a statement J.K. Rowling issued in support of the casting of Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald, collectively leaving many fans dissatisfied with the Fantastic Beasts franchise:

Vanity Fair notes that the marketing of Dumbledore as an LGBTQ+ character despite not representing his sexuality onscreen follows an existing pattern of movies that “made headlines by teasing story lines involving explicitly gay characters… [but] those much-touted scenes amounted to little more than throwaway moments that felt divorced from the rest of the story—blink-and-you’ll-miss-it fragments, rather than true examples of much-needed L.G.B.T. representation.” Slate agrees while pointing out that this approach is “also a disservice to the storytelling itself”:

[E]ven as Yates downplays a major character’s sexuality, his description of the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald when they were younger (“They fell in love with each other”) is possibly the most overt confirmation to date that Dumbledore’s feelings for Grindelwald were requited rather than one-sided. The Crimes of Grindelwald is set to take place years after the relationship soured, and according to the synopsis, Albus Dumbledore will be leading the charge to fight Grindelwald. If both of these things are true, then that means that this movie is essentially setting the stage for a showdown between two men who are ex-lovers. How on Earth do you make that movie without acknowledging that the two most important characters aren’t straight?

On Twitter, Rowling expressed resentment toward “[b]eing sent abuse about an interview that didn’t involve me, about a screenplay I wrote but which none of the angry people have read” and teased that Dumbledore’s sexuality may be addressed later in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, as The Crimes of Grindelwald is “part of a five-movie series that [it is] only one instalment in.” However, as Study Breaks observes, “The way Rowling is responding to the backlash isn’t very reassuring either: she took to muting her Twitter in order to avoid fans’ demands for an explanation… her overall silence only reassured Potterheads of the worst explanation possible: she was using Dumbledore’s sexuality as a marketing device.”

Ultimately, some fans are choosing to look to fandom rather than trusting canon to provide LGBTQ+ representation for Dumbledore’s character:

Finally, Hindustan Times has published a piece on how Indian women are writing fanfiction that reimagines TV shows as “feminist, erotic and imaginative.” The article calls fanfiction “a platform for women’s expression,” and it says that fans of “regressive” Indian soap operas are “creat[ing] a community of subversive women writers.” The piece also goes on to profile several fanfiction writers who have found empowerment in the writing process and their fannish communities.

We want your suggestions! If you have a story you think we should include, please contact us! Suggestions are welcome in all languages. Submitting a story doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a TWIF post, and inclusion of a story doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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