Bullying and the HP Community
It used to be that when I was bullied, I would delve into books to escape my tormentors. I was safe in those worlds, exploring and battling evil along with strong female lead characters like Alanna the Lioness or Hermione Granger who were able to speak their minds in ways that I could not. They fought back against bullies instead of just wishing that they would disappear. It got to the point that I had very few real friends and always had my nose in a book, trying to block out the world, to block out the pain of having people hate me for no other reason than being myself. My novels, I thought, were my only real friends.
This love of books expanded my small world with the discovery of the Harry Potter fandom when I was in high school in 2007. It came right after a wave of malicious rumors about me circulated the school. Just like with novels when I was younger, the moment I stepped into this new world I felt accepted immediately. The only difference was that, this time, I was interacting with real people and there were no reservations, no judgments. The thing that I love so much about our community is that no matter who you are, no matter what your interests or background or appearance, you are welcomed with open arms into what I consider to be a close-knit family. We look out for each other and understand one another in ways that none of my friends at school really could.
A lot has changed in my life since discovering my Harry Potter family. I have made a number of realizations about myself through my experiences in our community. I still have quite a distance to go to overcome my separation anxiety and the Imposter Syndrome, which I have been dealing with almost all of my life. Even dealing with these issues through the help of my friends, I am a lot more open than I once was, more willing to step away from the seclusion of my comfy chair and bookcases and truly interact with others. I give people more of myself because I am less afraid that they will use their knowledge to hurt me. That fear disappears from my mind the moment I step into a new hotel in a new city and am barraged by my friends, welcoming me home.
Already, I have had so much support and love from those in the Harry Potter community and have felt so honored and humbled by it. I tell everyone I meet at the cons about what I will be doing for my senior project, and they are amazed at how open I am willing to be, to share something so personal and emotional with the world. I have had others who have experienced or are still experiencing bullying reach out to me to tell me their stories. I can’t help but cry, to know what my friends and family in the community have been through. We have found a place within the Harry Potter community where we can be ourselves without fear, and it empowers me to do more with my life and my story.
Being a part of Harry Potter community brings out the best in all of us. We love everyone and are completely accepting of others. If any one of us ever is stressed, depressed, worried, scared, there will always be someone there to help that person through the worst of it. We understand one another in ways that Muggle friends cannot grasp because we have Harry’s story to pull us together. Before they were friends in their first year, Ron unwittingly bullied Hermione for being who she was: a brilliant witch who wanted to learn all that she could. His words had a greater effect on her than he could understand, but Ron realized his error. When Hermione was later bullied by Draco and his cronies for her appearance and her status as a Muggleborn, Harry and Ron stood by her, as true friends should. It is our actions toward those in need that show who we truly are. Separate, we may break, but as a whole we are stronger than any force that could come against us.