Gatekeeping - Don't Be a Zuul

Zuul the Gatekeeper
Zuul the Gatekeeper

You’re not a real Star Wars fan unless…

You’re not a real Batman fan unless…

You’re not a real Marvel fan unless…

You’re not a real gamer unless...

You’re not a real theatre fan unless…

Don't be a Zuul

Geeks can be some of the most accepting and caring group of people as a whole, but we all are guilty of letting our passion bleed into elitism. Here is just one example I witnessed from a group of geeks who I consider to be the most welcoming in my experience - theatre geeks. A thirty-something blonde woman wore a Marvel shirt to rehearsal and she was greeted by a fellow thespian with praise for how cool the shirt was. However, immediately following the praise she was interrogated as to whether she was worthy of wearing a shirt with over thirty characters depicted on it. 

“But are you a real Marvel fan? Who is your favorite Avenger? Of the original Avengers?”

This young woman is a recent Marvel fan but her expertise and passion in the field is fast growing. She hasn’t seen all of the Marvel movies but she does have a pretty wide knowledge of the genre, including the comics. So she answered “Thor. But post Ragnarok.” Her answer was met with, “Yeah. Everyone likes Thor.” Another geek chimes in “The correct answer is Captain Marvel. I'm so glad Disney has the rights to do X-Men so that Carol can meet her father, Magneto.”

Gatekeeping Hurts

So what was the effect here? A young woman who has a growing passion and a burgeoning bond with other geeks is made to feel insufficient. She even questioned her own expertise about a topic she was just starting to feel comfortable conversing about. On top of all of that, these two particular geeks were actually mistaken about Captain Marvel being an original Avenger and being Magneto’s daughter. This young woman knew that they were incorrect and yet doubted her own knowledge because she had been deemed at first glance as a “poser.” 

Why did these geeks judge her from the start? Because she was female? Because she was blonde? 

Fly Your Geek Flag!

Gatekeeping largely comes from a need to feel important and special. What’s sad is that there could be so much more geek love if we just open up our arms and accept all levels of passion and value all opinions as valid. If these two fellow Marvel fans would have regarded her answers without judgment, this could have been another avenue in which they could bond. Instead, this young lady will question whether she should wear anything Marvel related to rehearsal again. This is not how we encourage others to fly their geek flag. 

We want to celebrate all that you are passionate about. Instead of being met with an eye roll or pop quiz, you’ll hear us say “Oh! If you like ___ then you should also check out ___! You’ll love it!” Because at Geekeasy everyone gets the password to enter.

So what geek flags do you fly? Have you ever been met with gatekeeping?  Let us know in the comments below.

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