Orlando is known for many things: tourists, bad drivers, strip malls, theme parks, and conventions. Luckily for us, Orlando is a relatively convention heavy city. If you like science fiction, comic books, movies, and gaming, it’s actually not a bad place to hang your hat. Each year at the Orlando Science Center we’re lucky enough to have Otronicon, a convention that focuses on gaming and new technology. I’m happy to say that 2011’s Otronicon is the best yet.
Oh, boy. I was hoping to avoid this conversation. It’s not going to be an easy one, hell, it’s making the “I’m gay” one look like a walk in the park. But, I can’t avoid it anymore. Especially now that there are… pictures. So, yeah. Here goes.
Mom, Dad, friends and other family, I’m a cosplayer. Don’t freak out! I know it seems really different and odd, but I assure you we are like everyone else. We have jobs, families, lovers, friends, even pets! There are no strange growths or tentacles, well, unless we’re in costume anyway—and those appendages are absolutely fake! I swear!
Yes, yes. I know it’s…unexpected. There may have been clues over the years, my love of capes as a child perhaps? Wee Nat is just a kid with an imagination, she’ll grow out of it, it’s just a phase, was the hope I’m sure.
Heh. Well, funny enough, I ended up growing *in* to it. I know it seems weird. I’m an adult now, long past my misspent 20s in college. I have a solid job where I am liked, even respected, by colleagues and superiors. I live in a nice apartment with adorable pets. I am getting to the point in my life where so have some pretty big decisions to make on settling down, maybe even settling down with someone else! Gasp!
All of that? It’s great! I have a good life! But, what people see, what my co-workers see, what casual observers see daily is not representative of all the elements of who I am as a person. There is more to my life than my work, and Crossfit (which I also love), which simply does not fit in my 40 hour day-to-day grind. There’s a part of me, a creative part I would argue, which likes to share the love of fantasy, science fiction, armor, superheroes, villains, all of that stuff which I am not paid to deal with. I have my writing, on Nerd Appropriate, and in my fiction works, but it’s not enough. So, I turned to cosplay. And you know what? It is AMAZING.
I want to show you guys this picture from PAX Prime 2013.
Do you see the smile on my face? Do you see that big-ass cheesy fucking grin? Spoiler: that’s me! That is the real me! That is a complete and whole Nat, not the “mask” I wear at work, not the sourpuss who sulks on BART, or who politely smiles and nods through her way through life because society dictates it is what I should do at my age and where I am in life. Making the armor was something I have always wanted to do, but was I was too crippled by my own insecurities and worry over what other people might think.
Think about a time you shared something you created with others people. It can be anything! A favorite meal in the kitchen; a wood working project; poems; a garden; whatever! Now, making your project was fun, super fun in fact. But, then it was time to share it with others, were you nervous? Probably. Now think about the response you got, which was hopefully positive. Didn’t it feel good to share a part of yourself? That is what cosplay does for me.
I spent two days showing off one my creative projects. It took two months or so to build. And yes, I made it. I bought the materials, pestered people with questions, agonized over details. As I struggled to assemble the various pieces on my person Friday, I was still considering not wearing it at all. It was less about the physical armor and more the mental. There I was, bearing an element of my soul potentially to hundreds of people and not behind a computer screen or a username. So, I sucked it up and walked over to the convention hall. Once there people began to smile at me, some simply said, ” Nice armor!” Others stopped me to ask if they could get a picture. And then I arrived at the BioWare base where I met developers and fans alike. They loved it! Not only were people accepting me, and the expression of myself, but I felt a sense of belonging I don’t feel in my daily life. It was fucking spectacular!
I’ll understand if the people in my life need some time to process this. I realize some may think less of me and, well, those folks are entitled to their thought/opinions. Cosplay, in the minds of some, is something which doesn’t fall within societal norms, I see/hear people mock cosplayers a lot in fact. I’ve seen it in internet commentary, I’ve heard news anchors mock San Diego Comic Con cosplayers openly during a broadcast, describing them as freaks who live in their parents’ basements and who have no life—a very big misconception as I hope I have demonstrated. That said, at the end of the day? I don’t really give a crap about what is “normal” for society. I don’t do this to make other people happy, I do this for me. How I spend my time is my business and, as long as it isn’t driving me to neglect my other responsibilities, or cause myself and others harm, I’m going to keep doing it. It makes me feel good about being me, Nat, and that’s the important thing.
Natalie currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area where she tries to balance full-time work and various nerdy hobbies. While being a huge Bioware fangirl, she also enjoys other video games (i.e. Arkam City, the Fable series) as well as comic books set in the DC universe