How do I get my family to leave my interest in fandom alone?
They already call me ‘freak’ and ‘geek’ and stuff on a regular basis, and I know that I won’t ever be able to get them to stop that, but… it really hurts when they look at whatever I’m working on at the time and either make fun of the subject or call me out on my interest in the show/comic/etc. and say how because I’m just ‘copying’ other people’s characters it’s not real art, or if it’s slash, how it’s ‘disgusting’.
It makes me really nervous and unsure about showing them a lot of my original works that aren’t ‘mainstream’, or ideas that are really out-there (I’m working on a book right now featuring mainly POC, with the main characters being LGBTQA, that I would love to show them but can’t), and I would really like to know how I could talk to them about this without immediately being shot down or brushed aside. :[
I just want to feel like I can be interested in things in the safety of my own home. Any advice?
Wishing my family would appreciate my art
It sounds like you are struggling with an issue that many fans face. I’ve had several readers write in about similar issues over the past year, see here, so you are definitely not alone. It can be so hard to not feel accepted by one’s family, and I’m sorry to hear that you are having to go through this.
Every family is different, and not every family is as accepting as others. Some families might respond well to a member sitting down and talking to them about his/her desire to be accepted, but in other families, it may never feel really safe to do so. It sounds like you don’t think that your family will ever stop calling you a geek or freak. I’m sorry to hear that. If you have never told them that you don’t appreciate it when they call you names, it may be helpful to do so. If they are receptive, perhaps you could explain to them why you are interested in what you do and ask them to be respectful of you and your art. Or, perhaps they would respond better if you sent them a letter or an e-mail explaining how you want to be able to share your interests and art with them without their criticizing you. Sometimes family members don’t realize how their comments can hurt others, and it’s possible that hearing this from you could help. Nevertheless, since you know your family best, you will have to gauge how well you think they would respond to your sitting them down and talking about this.
Additionally, many families have achieved greater acceptance and understanding of each other through talking things out with the help of a professional. Not every family is willing to try family therapy, unfortunately, but if you think your family would be, then it might help.
However, if you’ve tried talking to your family about this issue, and they just won’t come around, then at some point, you may just need to accept that they aren’t going to understand you the way you’d like them to. There are many families in which children break off from tradition and live very differently from their families of origin. In such cases, these renegades often find a new support system. They surround themselves with friends and colleagues who do understand and appreciate them. This doesn’t mean that they leave their families behind all together (although in some cases they might), but it may simply mean that they get their support and artistic camaraderie from friends instead of family.
If you feel good about yourself when you make your art, then I’d encourage you to keep doing it. The fact that your work highlights members of minority groups shows that you care about underdogs. It shows that you have turned your own struggles into something productive and beautiful. Some of the best art in the world comes out of the artist’s own internal struggles, and I’m glad to hear that you are doing something good with yours. I do hope that your family eventually comes around and appreciates you for who you are, but in the meantime, I hope you can find comfort in knowing that there are others out in the fan community who do appreciate you.
Wishing you all the best,
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