The Star Trek television and movie franchise has been around for over fifty years, and organized Star Trek fandom has been around for over forty years. Compare that to Star Wars organized fandom, the 501st Legion, which has been around for only twenty-two years. That is an impressive length of time for any sort of organized group for a television and movie franchise. Don’t worry, this is not a piece about organized fandom, just laying some groundwork for the rest of this piece.
Many people do not understand what organized fandom really is. Unlike the individual fan, whose peer group or colleagues may coincidentally include like-minded subject lovers, organized fandom involves fans specifically seeking out those who share their tastes, thereby becoming involved in a range of social, cultural, and media activities that take this shared fandom as their starting point. Back in the day, when Dungeons and Dragons first came out, it came with an odd stigma. Somehow in the 80’s, when the game came out, people started believing that those who played the game had a higher rate of suicide or committing murder. Fast forward to 2019, and thanks to shows like “The Big Bang Theory,” playing Dungeons and Dragons has become cooler. The story of Star Trek fandom is fairly similar. Not in the people committing murders or suicide, but being outsiders of society’s norms. The stereotype for Star Trek fans is people who live in their parents’ basements, or they believe the starships are actually in space right now waiting for them. This stereotype is made fun of regularly in comedies like “Galaxy Quest” and in documentaries like “Trekkies.”
However, when you really start looking at it, Star Trek fans are as diverse as humanity itself. Fans come from all walks of life and all sociopolitical backgrounds, from all around the world. There are some very famous people who are Star Trek fans, from actors like Tom Hanks and Angelina Jolie to former President Obama. So why, when an obvious Star Trek fan stops at a Star Trek display set up at a local convention, do they get all weird when you say you’re an organized fan group?
The most often asked question that we get during our displays at conventions is, what is this all about? When asked this question, my group quickly explains the basics of our group. We are a Science Fiction Fan Social Group that gets together for all sorts of activities, from community service to watching science fiction, to anything we want. Hopefully, that leads to a more in-depth conversation, because honestly if you took the time to stop and look at our display, you are already probably a Star Trek fan. However, a lot of the time the reaction from the convention attendee is a mix of confusion and trepidation.
So, overall there is nothing to really be afraid of. An organized social fan group, like the USS Tiburon, is just a safe place for you to be you and share your love of Star Trek with other like-minded beings. We offer many opportunities through different activities for you to come out and enjoy that basic love of Star Trek. There is no judgment on what you feel is the best Trek, best character, or best ship. We don’t care if you are a cashier at McDonald’s or are vice president of a Fortune 500 company. You’re a Trek fan to us. Maybe, if you want, come out and help us do community service, or just come and talk Trek. We don’t require you to go out in public in space pajamas; we might ask you if you want to, but it’s not required.
So the next time you see the Tiburon, or any fandom that you enjoy, take a moment to stop at their display or table and say hello. At the very least, you will have a great conversation with someone who, like you, appreciates the subject matter. At most, you will find some new great friends to hang out with and share all sorts of adventures with.