Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Comic Shop Love

For those who may not know, I was the assistant manager of a comic shop for about 4 years before I went to college.  It was the place I learned about who I was, matured as a person and finally transitioned on the job there.  There's a special place in my heart for my comic shop, as well as all the regular customers I got to know over that time.  We had over 300 customers who came in at least every month for subscriptions and I knew every one of their names by memory.  Nearly all of them shattered the stereotype of what a comic book fan is, they were business executives, teachers, bus drivers, factory workers, entrepreneurs, students, personal trainers, coaches, and every other job under the sun.  They were men and women, some as young as 3 and some as old 80 and everything between.  They were married, they were single, they were straight, they were gay, they were some of the most interesting people to talk with.

If you've never been to a comic shop, I want you to stop what you're doing right now.  Open up a new window or tab and go to this website right now.  Type in your zip code and find the nearest one to you.  Make a point to visit on a Wednesday (that's New Comic Book Day) and when you go, don't just stand sheepishly looking around.  Go to the salesperson and tell them what you're passionate about.  It doesn't have to be superhero related.  There is a comic or graphic novel out there for everyone.  Do yourself a favor and enjoy yourself.  Rant about politics, chat about history, theorize about philosophy.  Whatever it is, I guarantee someone will want to talk with you about it.  And you'll enjoy yourself immensely.  Why?  Because I've learned there is one supreme rule of the comic shop: You're allowed to be yourself here without reservation, because we've all faced ridicule and will not do that to you here.  Despite our differences, we will respect each other.

Maybe I'm a little over-sentimental when it comes to my comic shop, but if you can change sex somewhere and face little to no harassment about it, that seems like a utopia of understanding to me.  For the majority of people who even bothered to ask when I started presenting as female, the average conversation would go something like: "Why are you dressed like a girl?"  To which I responded, "Because I am one."  And that would be the end of it.  Some might go on to ask about details, but it was always out of respect and a curiosity to understand better so as not to offend.  It was a great experience for which I'm extremely grateful.  I wish all trans people could have as smooth a transition as I did.

I wish the whole world could be one big comic shop.  A place where everyone passionately discusses literature, mythology, politics, religion, and human rights, while still respecting opposing opinions and enjoying each other's company.  I wish the world was a safe place for everyone, where everyone has enough empathy to know ridicule hurts no matter the reason.  If the world was one big comic shop, maybe we'd finally work through some of our issues and focus on more important things.  Like space travel.

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