Last weekend, I experienced my very first con with Boston Comic Con. I didn't know quite what to expect, except for a large crowd and many interesting sights. It began before I even stepped off the subway - a family was donning their cosplay costumes on the train, the parents helping their children put on a dragon hood and princess tiara. As I followed them off the train, we stepped into a stream of fellow con-goers. The mother said to her preteen son, "Just follow the cosplayers." In his excitement, he rushed ahead, his dragon spikes bobbing through the crowd, a river sweeping him away from his family.
But despite the energy, this river was not a roaring force of destruction. "Let him go," the father said with exasperation. "He'll end up in the right place." The parents had swam this river before. They knew there were no sharp rocks to run into, only a deep current carrying things where they were meant to be.
As I got into what was more of a throbbing mass of people than a line, I felt something spectacular. It was more than the excitement radiating from the crowd. It was a true sense of community.
Teenagers in Hetalia and Sailor Moon cosplays waved at wide-eyed babies. Dads chatted to each other while their offspring compared costumes and fandoms.
Throughout nerd history, we have been the outsiders, more so than any other counter-culture. Everywhere we go, we are worried about finding "people like us." Primal instinct tells us that if we don't, we will die.
We admire the underdogs in our stories because we see ourselves in them. We got lost in fictional worlds because they seemed so much better than the world around us.
We aspire to be like our heroes and rise above the bullies and the insults they hurled at us, prove that we are worth more than they said, prove that we are not defined by the things they called us.
Finally, we are able to completely surround ourselves with people that understand us, people that support us, people that know how we feel and appreciate us.
We support each other because we know what it's like to not have support for your hobbies, your interests, and your passions.
Experiencing this celebration of geek and nerd culture is a magic beyond any you could find in a fantasy book. It's real and raw and genuine. This is something they can never take away from us.