If you've ever been to a convention or festival with genre themes, you've probably seen a lot of people wearing really elaborate costumes, swaggering around in-character, having spent a lot of time and/or money putting together their look. You've probably also seen goths punks, pagans with pentacles, maybe even kinky after-hours playmates, actual trans people gender-bending cosplays, or otherkin and real vampires. And then of course there's the professionals, the writers and artists who are selling their creations and speaking knowingly at panels and presentations.
Are you one of those people? Or are you one who feels a little out of sorts around one or more of those groups?
There are those of us OtherFolk who get really involved in these worlds we enjoy, and many of us have adopted things into our whole lives that are pretty far from the mainstream. But there's a lot more people who are only into one thing instead of everything, or are just plain fans! They like to read comics about furries but they don't really have any interest in owning a fursuit They love reading books about wizarding schools, but they don't really feel the need to wear the uniform, maybe have a collector's patch, maybe a scarf, but that's all. Maybe they play the game on the weekends, wear the t-shirt, but they don't really have the time for larping Maybe they like watching animes about people doing alchemy, making deals with demons, or using their magical powers, but in real life, they still go to church on Sunday, or maybe don't think about the spiritual or metaphysical planes at all. Somebody might even be very picky about what science fiction they like, mainly because they like actual science. But that doesn't mean that any of these people aren't OtherFolk.
Our society has a tendency to classify people, to lump us into groups depending on what we have in common. Sometimes it's just age, income, gender, whether you have kids or are married, or area of origin. And then there's grouping and labeling people by their interests or their life choices. But even within certain groups, people try to gauge how much other people are "like me" before they can decide if they want to develop a friendship with them.
This compartmentalizing ends up causing people to not really give a person or group of people a chance if they can't see any of these connection points with them, or if they see a a coupe of points that they think they are unable to connect with. I'm not saying you shouldn't try to hang out with people with similar interests. The problem is when people exclude themselves from an open group just because they believe they "don't fit in." This is how people who are a little weird fall through the cracks and feel like no one understands them - they don't share themselves with others because they think nobody can relate, or they can't relate to anybody else. Or alternately, people end up in an echo chamber -- hanging out with the same kind of people with the same kind of opinions, never having a variety of points of view to challenge their thinking. In a way this can be worse, because you think you're around people who understand who you really are -- but are you being who you really are, or are you being who the echo chamber people tell you you should be?
I have noticed multiple people trying to do this classification thing with OtherWorlds and the people involved in it. I just want to say this:
Stop trying to make OtherWorlds just a festival, or just a cosplay group, or just an otherkin group, or just for pagans, or just a fairy and fantasy group, etc, etc, etc.
OtherWorlds is all about being INCLUSIVE. Yeah, I know, it's weird, hard to wrap your head around: A group that doesn't have unspoken rules about who is "one of us" or "one of them"? People who aren't trying to tell me who I have to be so I can be like them because they're the right ones? A group that includes people who are often wildly different and yet all laugh together and have fun and enjoy each other's company and conversation? A group that could potentially include all my friends I already have, and I get to meet new and unique people, all in the same place? But that was the point of its inception, to expand beyond the Fae into all worlds, all interests, and all levels of interest.
Yes, we have some pretty elaborate costumes, but most of the time we just read books, and just watch movies and TV, and we play ordinary everyday games too! Yes, some of us are writers and artists, and we seek to expand the magic in this world, but yeah we have day jobs too. And yes, many of us are not in a mainstream religion and are very into our obscure beliefs, but that does not in any way mean you have to believe what we do or that we would ever reject you for your beliefs.
Now, having said that, if you're not comfortable allowing others around you to have their own interests, not okay with people having their own views and beliefs to peaceably discuss or not discuss as they please, not willing to acknowledge people may or may not be a different gender, sexuality, or non-human identity than you think, or anything like that -- basically if it's not okay with you that people are who they know themselves to be instead of how you think they ought to be, well, yeah you probably shouldn't come anywhere near OtherWorlds Alliance. We have fangs and claws, y'know.