This weekend, I am at PAX East, the Penny Arcade expo. This is a convention that will always hold a special place in our hearts here at Girls Are Geeks, because three years ago at the very first PAX East, the idea for this blog was born, and our first post was published 3/30/2010. Happy Birthday to us!
For Dawn and I, PAX was a life-changing experience. We discovered an inter-connected world of geeks that love the the same things we do and want to talk about it with us. We started this blog and found a world where our identity as women and geeks was celebrated instead of considered out of the mainstream. We’ve had our ups and downs over the last three years in keeping things moving and improving and expanding, but it was, and continues to be an amazing ride, and I wouldn’t give it all up for anything.
This year at PAX, I’ve had the opportunity to do something incredible. I’m here with the gaming club from the college that I work at, and most of the students I’m with have never been outside of New York State, much less to a convention like PAX. Last night, I took a couple of the students I was with to the concerts, which were Video Game Orchestra, Those Who Fight, and, a blog favorite, The Protomen. I love the concerts at PAX, mostly because where else can you stand in a huge crowd of geeks listening to music about video games and scifi. It was absolutely amazing watching the students I was with experience that. Seeing them find themselves in the crowd, falling in love with the music, and knowing that this was a place where they could be themselves and be fully accepted.
One of my students was simply in awe. He said that it was amazing to be in a room of 4000 nerds, in near silence, and then, the whole room begins singing, “This was a triumph …” My other student said he had no words to describe The Protomen concert experience. They both started out a little uncertain, but within minutes were pumping their fists in the air with the crowd and chanting along, “We have control, we keep you safe, we are your hope.”
Geeks, in general, live in a world where we are the fringe of society. We are misunderstood at best, and ridiculed or treated as outcasts at worst. We speak a language that others don’t understand, wear clothes that cause us to stand out, and are probably one of the most stereotyped groups of people. However, at PAX, our strange sayings make sense, our clothes are testaments to our favorite franchises, and we know that geeks come in every shape, size, gender, sexual orientation, and fandom. At PAX, we belong. At PAX, we are home.
When we leave PAX, many of use are returned to the real world where the odd, sideways looks at your clothing and disapproving eyebrow raises at your life choices are likely to be more commonplace. That’s one of the reasons we started this blog. We wanted to continue that experience of belonging. To have a community that not only doesn’t mind that you can geek out forever about SeaQuest DSV, but will in fact join you. This is my home away from home. This is where I can be myself and live in a community that celebrates that.
Here’s where I stop waxing philosophical, and ask you all for a small favor. Two years ago, we transitioned this blog from WordPress to self-hosted. We like that, it gives us the freedom to do more things with design and content than we would remaining on wordpress.com. However, it costs money to host our site, and unfortunately, that it not something we have a lot of. I teach community college, and Dawn is still job-hunting (anyone need a social media master, digital designer, or a biomedical photographer?). We have some ads through Project Wonderful, which is an organization that I like because they help out the little guy, like us, by creating ad blocks that are incredibly cheap, and sometimes free. However, in order to keep our blog a nice place to be, we do turn down all other ads that would not be directly applicable to our population and from a company that we would directly approve of. What this means, is that right now, we are recouping about 50% of what we pay for hosting and domain.
You might have noticed that a little while back, we added a Paypal button to the site. So, to finally get to the favor, we’re asking for your help. If every one of our readers donated just a dollar a year, we could run the site without losing any money, and maybe even completely ad-free. The money would be used solely for the site, we aren’t looking to to turn this into our full time jobs, just want to be able to maintain the community and the freedom we’ve got without going broke in the process or feeling the need to sell out to online-poker companies.
So, Happy Birthday to us and a huge Thank You for all the love, comments, reads, and twitter chats over the last three years. Thanks to Gabe and Tycho for giving us PAX and starting us on this journey, and thanks again to the person who uttered the words that truly inspired us to get out there and make it happen, Natania Barron.
We have some great plans to make the next few years even better than these have been, and of course, if you ever want to hear us talk about something, or see something amazing that we should feature, let us know. It’s not a community if we don’t all work together.
Geek love y’all!