Is there a word for achieving achieving a bucket list ambition twice? (Not that I am a great believer in bucket lists). If so, then that’s the word to describe having presented twice at the Academic Archers Conference. Last year my paper was on Queering Shula, a chance to explore how even when LGBTQAAI characters are allowed in mainstream drama their behaviour, attitudes and characters are all too often exceptionally heteronormative.
The Fandom Symposium on the Saturday of the conference made me consider how fandoms themselves provide community and support at their best, and can become toxic and and abusive at their worst. One of the reasons the Academic Archers fandom is one which is so positive is, I believe, the lack of gatekeeping. No one cares if you don’t know the name of Nelson Gabriel’s wine bar, or Jack Wooley’s dog. Fandoms can be welcoming, sharing joy that someone new has discovered them, or replicate exclusionary behaviour. One of the attendees suggested that the age and gender balance might explain the welcoming nature of the fandom. It’s a nice thought, but one which I think is only part of the explanation, but a lovely part never the less
This years conference took place in Reading, and my presentation was – They needed counselling; The barriers to accessing counselling in rural areas. Originally I had started researching how to improve provision for LGBTQAAI people in rural areas. Living in Northumberland I am very aware that services are so often inaccessible, due to distance, lack of public transport and cost. My research led me to realise that rural residents generally are not being considered in our one size fits all system. Whilst we can talk of better funding, until the structural and attitudinal barriers are overcome, many rural residents, cis/ het and queer, will be unable to get the support they need. Here are the slides, for those who might be interested, and here is the you tube channel for the conference. I am looking forward to next year already!